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App State vs. Miami-Ohio: Picks, best bets for Cure Bowl in Orlando on Saturday

The Mountaineers and RedHawks meet in Orlando for the Cure Bowl.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 10 Coastal Carolina at Appalachian State Photo by David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Appalachian State Mountaineers face the Miami (OH) RedHawks in the Cure Bowl on Saturday, December 16. The game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET from FBC Motrtgage Stadium on the campus of the University of Central Florida.

App State (8-5, 6-3 SBC) finished second in the Sun Belt East, but qualified to play in the conference title game due to James Madison’s postseason ineligibility. They fell to Troy in the SBC Championship. The Mountaineers’ biggest win of the year came over none other than James Madison, and they also notched wins over Marshall and East Carolina. They took North Carolina to overtime but ultimately lost. They ranked 15th in the nation in yards per game and 21st in passing yards per game. Quarterback Joey Aguilar led the impressive offense, and finished the season with over 3,500 passing yards, 33 touchdowns, and nine interceptions.

Miami (11-2, 7-1 MAC) won the MAC this season, defeating Toledo in the conference championship 23-14 to claim the title. Their only conference loss came against Toledo earlier in the season, and they also had a loss to Miami (FL) on their resume. After quarterback Brett Gabbert suffered a season-ending injury in October, Aveon Smith took over at QB to finish out the season. The RedHawks’ defense was their strong point, allowing the fifth-fewest points to opponents in the nation (15.8 ppg).

Here’s everything you need to know and a pick for the bowl.

SP+ Rankings

App State: 55 overall, 24 offense, 102 defense
Miami (OH): 52 overall, 107 offense, 14 defense

List of injuries and players opting out of game

App State

WR Milan Tucker - In portal but will play (305 yards, 1 TD)
LB Nathan Kimbabe - Out (Transfer portal)
RB Nate Noel - Out (Transfer portal, 834 yards, 5 TDs)
WR Dashaun Davis - Out (Transfer portal, 381 yards, 3 TDs)
WR Coen Sutton - Out (Transfer portal)

Miami (Ohio)

QB Brett Gabbert - Out (Injury)
QB Aveon Smith - Out (Transfer portal, 638 yards, 2 TDs)
QB Henry Hesson - Bowl starter (0 pass attempts in 2023)
WR Joe Wilkins - Not on bowl depth chart (343 yards, 1 TD)

ATS/Total

Against The Spread in 2023

App State: 6-6-1 ATS
Miami (OH): 10-3 ATS

Total in 2023

App State: Over 7-6
Miami (OH): Over 5-8

Team Pace

App State: 25.3 seconds per play
Miami (OH): 30.8 seconds per play

Odds at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: App State -6.5
Total: 41.5
Moneyline: App State -230, Miami (Ohio) +190

Weather

66 degrees, heavy rain, 10 MPH winds with 27 MPH wind gusts

Our Best Bet for the Cure Bowl

App State -6.5

This will come down to a battle between the Miami defense and the App State offense, and I think the App State offense can win. Miami is going to struggle to put points on the board with their third-string quarterback starting. App State is losing their top running back to the portal, but quarterback Joey Aguilar is sticking around. The Mountaineers will pull away as the RedHawks struggle to find the end zone.