2018 New Orleans Bowl Free Pick - Middle Tennessee vs. Appalachian State

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D.S. Williamson

December 12th, 2018

One of the toughest bowl games to figure out on the opening day of the bowl games features Middle Tennessee and Appalachian State, two of the betting darlings from the regular season. Determining who to side as the go-to 2018 New Orleans Bowl free pick isn't as straightforward as you might believe, even with the Mountaineers favored by a touchdown.

App State won the Sun Belt Conference after taking down rival Louisiana 30-19. The Mountaineers have become one of the top non-Power Five Conference programs in the nation. Every year they seem to battle a team hard, win the Sun Belt, and go head to head with another top Non-Power Five Conference squad in the New Orleans Bowl. It's become a holiday tradition.

Like Appalachian State, Middle Tennessee also look to end their successful season with a bowl game victory. The Blue Raiders finished first in Conference-USA during the regular season, but lost to Alabama-Birmingham in the C-USA Championship. They believe they have what it takes to upset favored App State in the Big Easy on December 15.

Will the Mountaineers lift the trophy on Saturday? Or, will the Blue Raiders do enough to head into the 2019 as bowl winners?

NEW ORLEANS BOWL FOOTBALL BETTING Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders vs Appalachian State Mountaineers Saturday, December 15th – Mercedes-Benz Superdome – 9:00pm ET Odds: App State -7 (50.5)

Blue Raiders Hope to Regain Best Form

Two of Middle Tennessee’s first couple of games this season were against SEC squads Vanderbilt and Georgia. The Blue Raiders had no shot against either one of those teams, but Middle Tennessee did show up later on in the season in a game against the Kentucky Wildcats. The Blue Raiders lost 23-34 on the road to cover as a +16.5 dog.

The Conference-USA runner ups will look to display the same spirit they had in the loss to the Wildcats when they hit the field at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Dec. 15. Even though 3 of their 5 losses were to SEC teams, Middle Tennessee lost their other game to Florida International and one to UAB.

They head into this game after losing to Alabama-Birmingham. The Mountaineers are a formidable bunch, but if the Blue Raiders can rediscover the form they had before the loss in the C-USA Championship, they can challenge the Mountaineers.

App State Looks to Continue Winning Bowl Games

Up until 1955 Appalachian State played in Division 1 Bowl Games. Led by coaches Kidd Brewer and E.C. Duggins, the Mountaineers went 3-6 in their 9 bowl games from 1937 to 1955.

App State wouldn’t play in another Division 1 Bowl Game until 2015 under Scott Satterfield. With Satterfield calling the shots, the Mountaineers beat Ohio 31-29 in the Camellia Bowl. Satterfield led Appalachian State to 3 straight bowl game appearances and victories. After they beat Ohio in 2015, the Mountaineers took down Toledo twice, in the Camellia Bowl in 2016 and last year in the Dollar General Bowl.

Coach Satterfield and the Appalachian State Mountaineers will try for a fourth straight bowl game victory on Saturday. If past history is any indication, the Mountaineers should have no trouble accomplishing that.

The real question is whether Appalachian State can cover the 7-point spread. They only beat Ohio by 2 in 2015, and Toledo by 3 in 2016. Will the 2018 New Orleans Bowl be more like App State’s 34-0 win over Toledo in the Dollar General Bowl, or will it resemble App State’s bowl wins in 2015 and 2016?

2018 New Orleans Bowl Betting Analysis

Most feel the Mountaineers cover the spread. Appalachian State brings a 10-2 SU and 8-4 ATS record into the New Orleans Bowl.

The Mountaineers are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 overall, 8-3 ATS in their last 11 on field turf and 7-3 ATS versus a team with a winning record. Hot trends follow the Blue Raiders into this game as well, though. Middle Tennessee State is 5-1 ATS in their last 6, 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 versus the Sun Belt and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 following an ATS loss.

App State’s a good covering team, but Middle Tennessee gets the points in what should be a tight matchup. The Blue Raiders get my backing.

2018 New Orleans Bowl Free Pick: Middle Tennessee +7