A Sun Belt East title and a trip to the conference’s inaugural championship game is on the line Saturday in Boone, NC, as Appalachian State hosts Troy in a massive regular-season finale at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
The game is scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. ET. While it won’t be broadcast nationally on television anywhere in the US, you can still watch a live stream of the game on your computer, phone or streaming device via ESPN+, the new digital streaming service from ESPN that has coverage of Sun Belt football games during the 2018 season.
You can sign up for a free 7-day trial of ESPN+ right here, and you can then watch a live stream of the game on your computer via ESPN.com, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN app.
If you can’t watch live, all games–including Troy vs Appalachian State–that are streamed on ESPN+ are also available to be watched on-demand via ESPN.com or the ESPN app.
While the teams in the Sun Belt’s West division have spent most of the season beating each other up, Troy and Appalachian have cruised through the year to set up this monumental battle for the conference’s very first East crown.
Outside of a big loss to Boise State and a weird loss at Liberty, Troy has been flawless this season. That includes a 24-19 victory at Nebraska in September, and an undefeated record in seven Sun Belt games.
Appalachian State, which very nearly began the season with a massive win at Penn State, climbed to No. 25 in the AP poll for the first time in school history before dropping their lone game in conference play at Georgia Southern. They’ve been locked in since that defeat, though, winning three straight by an average margin of 25.0 points per game to set up this winner-take-all matchup against the Trojans.
“This is the week,” Troy quarterback Sawyer Smith said. “This is what we work for 364 days out of the year. This is what it comes to.”
When the ball finally kicks on Saturday, it will be a battle of high-level defenses. Troy ranks 28th nationally in yards per play allowed and 42nd in the S&P defensive ratings, while Appalachian State is 12th and 17th in those same stats, respectively.
While the Mountaineers’ defense grades out better statistically, and the home-field advantage has them set as sizable 10.5-point favorites, Troy’s offense may be able to challenge them better than the 12 points they scored last week against Texas State would suggest.
Sophomore QB Sawyer Smith has been a model of efficiency as of late. In his last four games, he has completed 65.6 percent of his throws for 9.04 yards per attempt and a 5/1 TD/INT ratio. Additionally, wide receivers Deondre Douglas and Damion Willis, who have combined for 81 receptions, 1,143 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns, are both expected to play after missing time recently with injuries.
On the other side of the field, though, Zac Thomas has been on fire for the Mountaineers, throwing for 529 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions in his last two games after missing the contest against Coastal Carolina. If he continues to play like that, it’s hard to imagine Appalachian State being beaten.
Ultimately, no matter who comes out on top, if this one even closely resembles the last two head-to-head matchups between these teams, we’re in for a highly entertaining game. In 2015, Appalachian State escaped with a 44-41 thrilling victory in triple-overtime at home, and in 2016, Troy got revenge with a 28-24 victory in another nail-biter. Last year, they didn’t play and ended up sharing the Sun Belt title, so this battle has essentially been two years in the making.
This is one you aren’t going to want to miss.
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