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FCS Playoffs: Appalachian State faces S.C. State today

Associated PressSouth Carolina State gets to play the same team at the same time at the same place to open this year’s Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. Coach Buddy Pough figures the best way to make sure it doesn’t happen again is to beat Appalachian State this time.
“Our big chore now is to win a football game so that we gain some respect and maybe not have to deal with these situations in the future,” Pough said.
The Bulldogs and Mountaineers meet Saturday at noon in Boone, with the winner advancing to play the winner of Richmond and Elon.
It’s a rematch from last season, when the Mountaineers won the playoff opener 37-21 in a game that was a lot closer than a lot of people expected. Appalachian State would lose the next week, ending its pursuit for a fourth straight national title.
Both teams come into the game on a roll. The Bulldogs only loss this year came to Football Bowl Subdivision member South Carolina. They have trailed less than 15 minutes total all season against FCS teams and won 19 games in a row in the MEAC.
The Mountaineers have won nine in a row after opening the season with losses to FBC member East Carolina and fellow FCS playoff team McNeese State. They are on a 20-game Southern Conference winning streak.
“They’re probably like us. They are probably a little bit better football team this year than they were last year,” Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore said.
The difference in last season’s playoff game was Mountaineers quarterback Armanti Edwards, who threw for 433 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another score.
Pough said Edwards was likely the best player in the history of the FCS, adding that watching film of Appalachian State hasn’t given him any good answers on how to stop the senior quarterback.
“I don’t know what the best thing to do against this guy is,” Pough said. “I think you’ve got to mix it up. I think you’ve got to have more than one plan, I guarantee you that.”
The Bulldogs are scoring 34 points a game against FCS teams. Their defense is fifth in all of FCS, allowing 251 yards a game.
Most importantly is South Carolina State now has playoff experience, which Moore said is more important than being familiar with his Mountaineers from last season’s playoff game.
“I think it’s an advantage just that you’ve just been in the playoffs,” Moore said. “I don’t know if it is any advantage coming back here.”
The Mountaineers have the second best offense in the FCS at 479 yards a game. But the defense is allowing 319 yards a game, ranking just 30 in the subdivision.
This is Appalachian State’s 16th trip to the playoffs, compared to just the fourth trip for South Carolina State and just the second since 1982.
The Bulldogs also play in what has been a much weaker league in the playoffs. A MEAC team hasn’t won a playoff game since 1999.

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