UNT-App State prediction

North Texas will face Appalachian State in the Myrtle Beach Bowl on Monday at Brooks Stadium in Conway, South Carolina.

North Texas vs. Appalachian State

When: 1:30 p.m. Monday

Where: Brooks Stadium, Conway, South Carolina

Records: UNT 4-5, App State 8-3

Last game: UNT 45, UTEP 43; App State 34, Georgia Southern 26

Last meeting: First meeting

TV: ESPN

What’s on the line?

A win over App State in the Myrtle Beach Bowl would be a milestone for UNT, which hasn't enjoyed a whole lot of postseason success. The Mean Green are 3-8 in bowl games in their history and haven't won one since Dan McCarney guided UNT to a 36-14 victory over UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl at the end of the 2013 season.

Current UNT coach Seth Littrell mentioned shortly after taking over at UNT heading into the 2016 campaign that the Mean Green's goal would be to win a bowl game.

It was an ambitious statement at the time after UNT had suffered consecutive losing seasons. Monday's game will be UNT's fourth bowl game in Littrell's five years at the school.

The Mean Green have yet to win one. Upsetting App State would be a big boost for Littrell and his program.

App State is essentially where UNT wants to be. The Mountaineers have won bowl games in each of the last five seasons. 

App State had won four straight Sun Belt Conference titles before its streak was snapped this year. Beating UNT to extend its bowl winning streak would be a nice consolation prize for the Mountaineers.

When UNT has the ball

UNT has been solid all season offensively, which is no surprise. Littrell is an offensive-minded coach and has had the Mean Green rolling the last few years.

UNT is averaging 35.1 points per game heading into its bowl game. The question is if the Mean Green can continue to excel against a stout Appalachian State defense without one of their key players.

Wide receiver Jaelon Darden declared for the NFL draft after UNT's regular season finale and won't play against the Mountaineers. Darden was by far UNT's biggest threat offensively and set a school record with 19 touchdown catches this season.

App State is allowing just 19.3 points per game and has 14 interceptions on the season. The Mountaineers didn't allow more than 17 points in four straight games in the middle of the season.

When Appalachian State has the ball

UNT has allowed at least 42 points in three straight games and is surrendering 41.3 points per game.

The Mean Green have struggled to contain opponents' running games throughout the season and are coming off a game in which they allowed 301 rushing yards to UTEP.

App State will certainly try to take advantage of UNT's weakness when it comes to defending the run. The Mountaineers are averaging 243.5 rushing yards per game, a total that ranks ninth nationally.

App State has four players who are averaging at least 57 rushing yards per game. Sophomore running back Camerun Peoples is averaging 80.7 yards on the ground per game.

App State has a quick and athletic offensive line. None of the players on its depth chart check in at 300 pounds.

Prediction

Nothing about the way this game shapes up on paper bodes well for UNT.

The Mean Green will be without their best player in Darden and are facing the best team they have seen since being blown out by SMU.

The way the teams' strengths match up also favor App State.

The Mean Green have struggled against the run all season. App State has one of the best running games in the country. UNT's biggest strengths is its offense that won't look nearly as intimidating with Darden out of the lineup. App State's defense held nationally ranked Louisiana to 24 points earlier this month. 

It's hard to imagine UNT putting up the numbers it has all season offensively against the Mountaineers.

Considering what UNT has faced this year, just getting to a bowl game is an accomplishment. The chances of UNT picking up the first bowl win of the Littrell era seem slim.

Prediction:  App State 35, UNT 24

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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