The 2021 Boca Raton Bowl features the 8-5 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers against the 10-3 Appalachian State Mountaineers. Here is the 2021 Boca Raton Bowl Preview.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (8-5)
The Hilltoppers were able to win eight games and make it to the C-USA Championship Game. Although they lost to UTSA in that game, they were able to defeat three bowl-eligible teams during the regular season. Their only loss to a non-bowl eligible team came at the hands of Indiana.
Western Kentucky has one of the best offenses in the country, which scores 43.1 points per game, ranking second. They pass for 434.6 yards (ranked first) and rush for 91.5 yards per game (ranked 125th).
Bailey Zappe has quarterbacked the air raid offense for the Hilltoppers. He has led the FBS with 5,545 passing yards, 56 touchdowns and also had 11 interceptions on 69.2 percent completion. Western Kentucky has four receivers with at least 690 yards. Two of their receivers have over 1,000 yards. Jerreth Sterns has a whopping 137 receptions for 1,718 yards and 14 touchdowns. Behind him, the Hilltoppers have Mitchell Tinsley who has 80 receptions for 1,299 yards and 12 touchdowns.
They don’t run the ball too often, but three running backs have over 200 yards on the ground. Noah Whittington has 94 carries for 467 yards and one touchdown. Adam Cofield leads the team in rushing touchdowns with four and also has 372 rushing yards. Kyle Robichaux helps out with 265 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
The defense allows 28.7 points per game, ranking 89th in the FBS. They give up 157.8 rushing yards (ranked 80th) and 261.2 passing yards per game (ranked 113th). Defensive back Antoine Kincade leads the team with 90 tackles. Their star player on defense is DeAngelo Malone, who has led the team with eight sacks. He has also forced four fumbles.
Appalachian State Mountaineers (10-3)
Appalachian State has made their sixth straight bowl games since becoming eligible at the FBS level with a 10-win season. They have defeated four bowl-eligible teams on the season and have only lost to teams that are going to a bowl game.
The offense scores 34.5 points per game, which ranks them at 24th in the country. They rush for 187.7 yards (ranked 37th) and pass for 240.7 yards per game (ranked 59th).
Former Clemson and Duke quarterback Chase Brice has been under center for the Mountaineers. He has played decently this season with 3,020 passing yards, 23 touchdowns, 10 interceptions on 61.9 percent completion. They have a trio of receivers who have at least 700 receiving yards on the season. Corey Xavier Sutton leads the team with 61 receptions for 904 yards and seven touchdowns. Malik Williams and Thomas Hennigan each have over 700 receiving yards and six touchdown catches apiece.
Their defense allows 19.3 points per game, ranking them 16th in the country. They concede 118.8 rushing yards (ranked 19th) and 206.6 passing yards per game (ranked 31st). D’Marco Jackson has 114 tackles on the season to lead the team. They have a star corner in Shaun Jolly who has five passes defended for the year.
Western Kentucky’s passing attack will put Appalachian State’s defense to the test. Zappe has been methodical with his passing all season long. The Hilltoppers will score points and Appalachian State won’t be able to keep up.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 35 Appalachian State Mountaineers 29
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