Louisiana vs. Appalachian State Odds, Predictions and Picks: Bet Mountaineers to Win Sun Belt Championship on Saturday (Dec. 4)

Louisiana vs. Appalachian State Odds, Predictions and Picks: Bet Mountaineers to Win Sun Belt Championship on Saturday (Dec. 4) article feature image

Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Nick Hampton (31) and Ryan Huff (21).

  • The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns (11-1) host the visiting Appalachian State Mountaineers (10-2) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET in the 2021 Sun Belt Conference Championship Game.
  • Louisiana crushed App State, 41-13, when these teams met on Oct. 12. But, our college football betting analyst explains why this rematch might go very differently.
  • Below, Collin Wilson previews Saturday's Sun Belt Championship matchup, including updated odds, picks and predictions for Louisiana vs. Appalachian State.

Louisiana vs. Appalachian State Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
3:30 p.m. ET
Louisiana Odds
-110o / -110u
Appalachian State Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Since 2005, the Sun Belt has been won a combined seven times by Appalachian State and Louisiana.

A closer look at that number reveals that App State head coach Shawn Clark did not win in his inaugural season last year and that Billy Napier shares a co-title with Coastal Carolina after the Sun Belt Championship game was canceled due to COVID-19 in 2020.

Even after further inspection, Louisiana has never won the Sun Belt outright in sharing the title in 2005, 2013 and 2020. Either Clark or Napier will claim their first-ever outright conference title on Saturday.

The Mountaineers dominated Napier and the Ragin' Cajuns with eight consecutive victories after joining the Sun Belt. Clark has yet to beat Napier head-to-head, losing last December and again this past October.

Through this two-game losing streak over the past 12 months, Appalachian State has committed seven turnovers.

While Napier is busy building a coaching and recruiting staff during non-work hours for when he takes over at Florida, Clark is aiming for ball protections and his first-ever Sun Belt Championship to match predecessors Eli Drinkwitz and Scott Satterfield.

App State Mountaineers

The Mountaineers have just two blemishes on the season record, both on the road — one in Lafayette on Oct. 12 and Week 2 against the Miami Hurricanes.

Turnovers were key in both events, as an early Chase Brice interception led to a quick score by the Hurricanes in an eventual two-point loss. The issues with Brice struck again against Louisiana, as he threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.

These events have been rare occurrences for a Mountaineers team that ranks 15th in Havoc Allowed. Of the 16 fumbles on the season, 11 have been lost to the opposition for a rank of 116th in fumbles lost percentage.

That's the 16th TD catch of Malik Williams' career and 21st TD pass of the season by Chase Brice.

Watch on ESPN+https://t.co/XCI1MlWMztpic.twitter.com/iOnM7DXk6N

— App State Football (@AppState_FB) November 27, 2021

The Mountaineers are a balanced offense out of the 11 formations, but for the 38% of snaps run out of a two-tight end set, the Mountaineers are run-based.

This Appalachian State squad has come down in Rushing Success Rate and Line Yards with the move to Brice over Zac Thomas, but when Brice is allowed to pass, there have been productive results.

The former Clemson and Duke quarterback was a reclamation project for Appalachian State that ended successfully with 26 big-time throws to just 12 turnover-worthy plays.

The dip in production is specifically linked to pressure, as Brice's adjusted completion percentage falls 18% with a crowded pocket.

Louisiana does not have the defensive line to cause Havoc, ranking 64th in pass rush while generating zero quarterback hurries during the Oct. 12 game.

D'Marco Jackson's fifth sack of the season came after T.D. Roof's bulldozing pressure …

Watch on ESPN+https://t.co/XAAtBnr7KBpic.twitter.com/wie8lEtkt8

— App State Football (@AppState_FB) November 6, 2021

D'Marco Jackson leads a defense that has been lights out in 2021. The Mountaineers are the top Defensive Havoc team in the nation, backed up by a rank of second in Line Yards and a top-10 mark in Defensive Finishing Drives.

Appalachian State is third in the nation in tackles for loss, a sign that it should find some success in stopping the Cajuns' potent rush attack.

The Mountaineers have dominated opposing offenses in the red zone, allowing the ninth-best touchdown rate in the nation.

For Clark, this game is about keeping his squad from taking itself out of the game with mistakes. In the October loss to Louisiana, the Mountaineers spotted three touchdown drives with starting field position in Appalachian State territory.

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Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns

The Sun Belt Championship game was first played in 2018, with Napier winning a spot in all four seasons. The first two were losses to Appalachian State, while the pandemic shut down the title game against Coastal Carolina last season.

Louisiana is looking for the program's first ever solo championship before Napier takes a U-Haul down Interstate 10 for the last time.

After an opening loss to Texas, the Ragin' Cajuns have won 11 consecutive games thanks to the skills of southpaw quarterback Levi Lewis.

Levi Lewis rolls left and the lefty finds Kyren Lacy for Six! pic.twitter.com/UuxGj9ySPt

— The Transfer Portal CFB (@TPortalCFB) October 13, 2021

Much like Appalachian State, the Cajuns run a mix of 11 and 12 personnel with a heavy run tendency in the two-tight end set.

The battle against Appalachian State will be in the trench, where Louisiana has a rank of 10th in Offensive Stuff Rate. Despite beating the Mountaineers by 28 points earlier this season, the Cajuns were stuffed on 14-of-43 rushing attempts to exceed the national average.

Defensive coordinator Patrick Toney has had glitches in the 3-3-5 scheme, ranking outside the top 100 against the explosive pass and in tackling grade.

Opponents have been able to move the ball with success on the ground against a stop unit that is 108th in Line Yards.

Similar to Appalachian State, the Cajuns field one of the best defenses in the nation once an offense crosses the 40-yard line, allowing just 2.8 points per trip to opponents.

Opposite of the Mountaineers is fumble luck, with the ULL defense recovering 11-of-16 fumbles.

Louisiana vs. Appalachian State Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Appalachian State and Louisiana match up statistically:

Appalachian State Offense vs. Louisiana Defense
Rush Success5749
Line Yards53108
Pass Success1815
Pass Blocking**6764
Big Play12049
Finishing Drives1511
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Louisiana Offense vs. Appalachian State Defense
Rush Success308
Line Yards432
Pass Success8129
Pass Blocking**2453
Big Play4926
Finishing Drives349
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling10107
Middle 83672
SP+ Special Teams1576
Plays per Minute8274
Rush Rate58.5% (37)58.2% (38)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

Louisiana vs. Appalachian State Betting Pick

One of the toughest handicaps in the nation comes against Louisiana. Napier is a gambling coach, going for it on fourth down on 33 occasions this season.

Also in the Cajuns' corner is fumble luck, not only generating seven turnovers from Appalachian State in the last two meetings but 10 turnovers in the last three regular-season games.

Napier may carry a record of 11-1, but this Cajuns team is also 123rd in second-order win total. Regression is coming when comparing Louisiana's post-game win expectancies from its full resume.

There are advantages for Appalachian State in this game, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The Mountaineers have been deadly in passing downs with a Success Rate rank of seventh.

App State's top-three Stuff Rate will help limit the Cajuns' ground game, and the top Defensive Havoc rate in the nation will give Lewis issues in and out of the pocket.

There is also a gap in Special Teams SP+, as this game with a spread of three may come down to the kicking game. Louisiana is near dead last in field goal efficiency.

Our Action Network projection sets the line at Appalachian State -4.5 in this road conference championship game.

Napier is sure to roll the dice until his last chip has been spent with a direct ticket to Gainesville in his back pocket. If Brice and the Mountaineers offense can limit fumbles, Clark will win his first-ever Sun Belt Championship.

Pick: Appalachian State -3 or Better

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