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Sun Belt Championship Game Preview: App State vs. Troy

The Mountaineers will hit the road to clash with the Trojans for the Sun Belt title. Troy enters the game as a home favorite.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 09 Troy at Kansas State Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2023 Sun Belt Championship Game will take place this afternoon as the Appalachian State Mountaineers head down to Veterans Memorial Stadium to meet the Troy Trojans. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET and the game will air on ESPN.

Appalachian State (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt) No. 63 FPI, No. 48 SP+

Appalachian State technically finished second in the Sun Belt East, but got into today’s title game due to James Madison being ineligible. This is the program’s fourth appearance in the Sun Belt Championship Game and are back after missing it last year because of a disappointing 6-6 campaign.

The team got off to a shaky 3-4 start this season and some began to question the job security of head coach Shawn Clark. However, the Mountaineers began putting it together around Halloween and rattled off five straight victories to close the season. Their final two wins were especially gratifying as they knocked off JMU in overtime before stomping rival Georgia Souther 55-27 last weekend.

App. State enters today’s game with the 20th ranked offense in SP+, a unit that is led by quarterback Joey Aguilar. He threw for over 3,000 yards and led the Sun Belt with 33 passing touchdowns to just nine interceptions. Kaedin Robinson and Christan Horn were his top receivers and will be players to keep an eye out for in today’s game.

Troy (10-2, 7-1 Sun Belt) No. 45 FPI, No. 28 SP+

Troy is in the Sun Belt Championship game for a second year in a row and is seeking back-to-back titles for the first time since divisions were introduced in 2018.

Defending their league title from last season, the Trojans started the season 1-2 with an early loss at Kansas State preceding a 16-14 setback against James Madison to open conference play. That didn’t phase head coach Jon Sumrall’s team as they went on a tear with nine consecutive victories to close the season. That run was highlighted by their dominance on defense, as the Trojans would only allow 20+ twice during that stretch. With every other team in the Sun Belt West beating up on each other, Troy would have the division title wrapped up on Veterans Day.

Troy’s calling card under Sumrall has been its defense and it ended the regular season ranked 20th in defensive SP+. The unit yielded just 15.5 points per game, which was good for fifth in the nation in that category. Edge rusher Javon Solomon is a First Team All-American candidate as he’s tied for the nation’s lead in sacks with 14. Offensively, quarterback Gunnar Watson threw for over 3,000 yards while running back Kimani Vidal ran for over 1,300 yards.

Odds at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Troy -5
Total: 53
Moneyline: Troy -218, App. State +180


69 degrees, rain, 8 MPH winds SW

Don’t forget before you bet

  • Troy is 7-5 against the spread this season while App. State is 6-5-1.
  • Six of Troy’s seven victories in conference came by double digits.
  • App. State is 3-0-1 against the spread as an underdog this season.

Best bets for Sun Belt Championship Game

Troy -5

Troy is rightfully the home favorite here and have a chance to clinch a conference championship on its home turf for a second year in a row. The Trojan defense is ferocious and the projected rainy conditions may give them a hand in slowing down a productive App. State offense. I trust Sumrall’s crew to get the job done here and I think they’ll cover.