Preview: 2016 Raycom Media Camellia Bowl

The Appalachian State Mountaineers will take on the Toledo Rockets in the third annual Raycom Media Camellia Bowl

Matchup: Appalachian State  (9-3) vs. Toledo (9-3)

When: December 17, 2016

Time (TV): 5:30 pm Eastern (ESPN)

Where: Montgomery, Alabama (Crampton Bowl)

This will be the first meeting between these two teams and it should be a good one. Toledo’s offense is one of the best in the nation at throwing it around and Appalachian State has one of the better defenses in the country. Whichever team gets a spark from their weaker side of the ball will gain a huge advantage.

Appalachian State (10-3, 7-1 Sun Belt)

Despite the 45 point outburst by Miami, the Appalachian State defense has been strong this season, allowing only 17 points per game (No. 7 in the nation). The Mountaineers rely heavily on their running game and have two rushers that have combined for over 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns. They won the title of Sun Belt champions with their only conference loss coming to a very good Troy team that finished third in the conference.

  • Bowl History: 1-0

Key Players: This defense is ran by their two linebackers, Eric Boggs and Keenan Gilchrist. They have combined for over 170 tackles, 15 TFL’s, and three interceptions. Freshman cornerback, Clifton Duck, leads the team with five interceptions to go along with his 54 tackles. Sophomore running back, Jalin Moore, rushed for over 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns.

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Best Game(s): Although the Mountaineers lost the first game of the season to Tennessee, in overtime,  they competed very well and showed that they have some true talent. Their best game of the season might have just came the very next week when they beat Old Dominion in dominating fashion. They had two rushers over 100 yards and controlled the time of possession the whole game.

Worst Game(s): Going into the third week of the season, the Mountaineers were viewed as a team that could possibly give the Miami Hurricanes a good game, much like they did with Tennessee. However, Appalachian State came out flat and got steamed rolled 45-10. The opening play was an 80 yard touchdown run by Miami, and they never looked back.

Keys To Winning: Defense will be key in this one for the Mountaineers and slowing down the dynamic passing attack by the Rockets. They will need to run the ball well and keep their defense and that Toledo offense off the field as much as possible.

Toledo (9-3, 6-2 MAC)

The Rockets have one of the nation’s best passing offenses lead by Logan Woodside. The wide receiving core is full of explosive receivers that can extend plays and take the top off. Toledo’s defense might be something to worry about, but it helps that Appalachian State doesn’t have the most explosive offense. The Rockets are going into their third consecutive bowl game after beating Arkansas State and Temple the previous two seasons.

  • Bowl History: 10-5

Key Players: Logan Woodside will be there difference maker in this game. He has an outstanding 69.1 percent completion percentage, 43 touchdowns, nearly 4,000 yards, and only nine interceptions. Ja’Wuan Woodley and John Stepec lead this defense with a combined 25.5 TFL’s, nearly 140 total tackles, and seven sacks.

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Best Game(s):  The Rockets started off the year hot with a great win at Arkansas State. They dominated from the opening kickoff against a very good team with a good defense.

Worst Game(s): Toledo’s three losses are all pretty respectable. They lost to an 8-4 BYU team, Ohio (No. 1 in MAC – East), and Western Michigan (undefeated). However, they were demolished by Western Michigan. Despite a huge game from Kareem Hunt, the passing game stalled and the defense couldn’t get a stop.

Keys To Winning: This team will only play as well as Logan Woodside plays. The passing game will be key against a tough defense, but if it can get going, it will be a long day for Appalachian State.

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Prediction: This is one of the harder games to predict, but I’ll take Toledo 30-24.

Camellia Bowl History

Dec. 19, 2015 Appalachian State 31 Ohio 29

Dec. 20, 2014 Bowling Green 33 South Alabama 28

Gifts: Gift suite; Fossil watch; coin; hat; beanie; Ogio duffel bag; Big Game autograph football

For more bowl season talk, follow Dru Smith on Twitter @DruSmith8

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