The 2019 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl will pit the Sun Belt Conference against Conference USA this season. No. 20 Appalachian State will face UAB on Dec. 21 (9 p.m. ET, ESPN). Here is the 2019 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl preview. Rankings from The Associated Press Top 25.
No. 20 Appalachian State (12-1)
The Mountaineers are playing in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl for the second straight season (beat Middle Tennessee 45-13 in 2018). They once again will have a new coach after Eli Drinkwitz left to take the Missouri job. Assistant Shawn Clark is now the man in charge, and looking to guide Appalachian State to its first 13-win campaign since 2007 – while still in the FCS.
Appalachian State’s lone blemish in 2019 came against Georgia Southern on Halloween. However, it’s bounced back to win five in a row. The Mountaineers are led by Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year running back Darrynton Evans (1,323 rushing yards, 17 touchdowns) and the league’s defensive player of the year in linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither (95 tackles, 14 tackles for loss).
Winners at North Carolina and South Carolina this season, the Mountaineers are aiming to go 5-0 in bowl games on the FBS level.
UAB will be looking to win back-to-back bowl games, but also must move on from being routed 49-6 by Florida Atlantic in the Conference USA Championship Game. It was the most points the Blazers allowed in a game in 2019, and somewhat of a sour way to head into bowl season.
Still, UAB is a talented squad and should be lauded for winning nine games and a division title despite losing 30 seniors from last season’s 11-win group. Austin Watkins (47 receptions, 933 yards and five touchdowns) is certainly someone to keep an eye on.
Defensively, linebacker Kris Moll (96 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, nine sacks) and tackle Garrett Marino (12.5 1/2 tackles for loss, six sacks) lead a unit that prior to the league title game, allowed an average of 18.5 points.
This is a quality early bowl-season matchup. The Mountaineers made some noise as a potential Group of Five representative this season, and is worthy of its ranking. UAB continues to be a good story while making a bowl for a third straight year, but Appalachian State might be too much to handle.
Appalachian State 44, UAB 17
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