Appalachian State, one of the nation’s best Group of 5 teams, get an intriguing early-season test when the Mountaineers welcome in-state foe Charlotte to Kidd Brewer Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The game (3:30 p.m. ET start time) won’t be on regular TV anywhere, but you can watch it right here on ESPN+, the digital streaming service from ESPN that has exclusive coverage of most Appalachian State and Sun Belt football games every week, other college football and live sports, all the 30-for-30 documentaries and additional original content (both video and written) all for $4.99 per month.
You can sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you can then watch Charlotte vs App State live on your computer via ESPN.com, or on your phone (Android and iPhone compatible), tablet, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or other streaming device via the ESPN app.
Charlotte vs Appalachian State Preview
Long one of the best FCS schools in the country–they won three consecutive national championships between 2005 and ’07–Appalachian State have thrived since returning to FBS football in 2014. They’re 49-16 overall during that stretch, they have three double-digit win seasons, they’re 4-0 in bowl games and they reached the AP Top 25 last season.
New Charlotte head coach Will Healy, who has both played and coached as an assistant against Appalachian State, knows that the ultimate goal is to replicate what the Mountaineers have done.
“I don’t know what else we could ask for, playing a meaningful game at App State, at least it’s meaningful for us,” he said. “We want what App has. And they don’t want us to have it.”
Accomplishing that goal starts with recruiting. And because Appalachian State and Charlotte compete for a lot of the same recruits–they are just over 100 miles away from each–Saturday’s matchup has importance that goes beyond a win or a loss.
“I can tell it’s important, based on the regional matchup, based on the state (matchup),” said new Appalachian State head coach Eliah Drinkwitz. “Based on the energy they put on it, owning that part of the state, and based on the energy we put into it. Recruiting (the Charlotte area) is an important place for us. And we’ve got a lot of great fans down there.”
The 49ers have won just 12 games in four seasons since joining the FBS in 2015, but the Healy Era is off to a strong start after Charlotte disposed of Gardner-Webb, 49-28, in their opener last week.
Obviously it wasn’t exactly the highest level of competition, but the 49 points were the most the 49ers have scored in their FBS Era, a sign of what this offense is capable of producing under their 34-year-old former-quarterback head coach.
Of course, Appalachian State is plenty potent offensively, too, as they showed during a 42-7 win over East Tennessee State last week. Darkhorse Heisman candidate Zac Thomas wasn’t at his best, but he still tallied 150 passing yards, 32 rushing yards and three total scores, while Darrynton Evans, Daetrich Harrington and Marcus Williams Jr. combined for 188 rushing yards on 27 carries.
“I don’t feel like we’re comfortable, but I don’t feel like we’re not comfortable,” Evans said about the team’s offensive progression under new head coach Eli Drinkwitz. “It’s really knowing what you’ve got to do, and that’s really on every man and not the whole team.”
When these in-state rivals met last year at Richardson Stadium, Appalachian State cruised to a 45-9 victory. Thomas was a perfect 14-of-14 for 295 yards and four total touchdowns, while Corey Sutton–who will miss Saturday’s game due to suspension–had 155 receiving yards and two scores.
The Mountaineers are favored by 22 in this one.
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