Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:48 AM

Louisiana vs. Appalachian State Predictions, Odds

  • December 4, 2020
  • By Joe Nelson

The late season Sun Belt schedule presents a heavyweight contest between teams that have played in the past two Conference Championship games.

Louisiana will be back in the title game against Coastal Carolina on Dec. 19, looking to maintain its top 25 ranking. Appalachian State has two games remaining, looking to finish strong and maintain a perfect run in this series.


Louisiana-Appalachian State Betting Odds

Line Movements

  • Spread: App State -2.5
  • Money-Line: Louisiana +112 App State -136
  • Total: 51.5

Odds Subject to Change

How to Handicap Louisiana vs Appalachian State

The Sun Belt is one of the few conferences to play a full season schedule in 2020, while also mixing in a few non-conference games. Louisiana made waves in September, winning in Ames 31-14 vs. Iowa State. The win featured two special teams return touchdowns, as the Ragin’ Cajuns won with only 272 total yards. It's a win that continued to grow in value with the Cyclones leading the Big XII this season.

Louisiana is 8-1, including 6-1 in Sun Belt play as the only West team with a winning record. They have already clinched a spot in the conference championship game in two weeks. This is the last regular season game for Louisiana, and it's a rematch of the 2019 and 2018 Conference Championship games.

The only loss for Louisiana was a 30-27 final, hosting the now 9-0 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers who Louisiana will play in two weeks. That was an even game statistically, with the Chanticleers hitting a 40-yard field goal in the final seconds to win. A late third quarter interception set up a Coastal Carolina touchdown that proved to be the biggest play of the game. A redemptive opportunity is ahead in two weeks, but this game is an opportunity to avenge last season’s close title game and a 0-8 S/U mark in this series since 2014.

The title game format is only in its third season, wiith consecutive wins for Appalachian State over Louisiana in Boone. The Mountaineers won 30-19 in 2018 and last season 45-38, while also winning the regular season meetings in this series as well. Appalachian State had a share of the Sun Belt title in 2017 and 2016, while Louisiana has never won an outright Sun Belt title (though shared the best record in 2013 and 2005).

Appalachian State quarterback Zac Thomas hopes to lead his Mountaineers to a victory against Louisiana. (AP Images)

Billy Napier is in his third season, and now is 26-11 at Louisiana. His name is being brought up as a possible candidate for higher profile openings this winter. The former Furman quarterback has ties to the states of Tennessee and South Carolina, and has solid credentials with assistant roles at Clemson and Alabama. He was a successful offensive coordinator at Arizona State in 2017, under Todd Graham, before being hired in Lafayette.

Appalachian State is in its second straight season with a coaching change, as Scott Satterfield left for Louisville after the 2018 season. Eliah Drinkwitz left for Missouri after last season. Shawn Clark has been with the program since 2016 and is now 8-2, leading last season’s New Orleans Bowl win over UAB while compiling a 7-2 mark this season.

Appalachian State came up short two weeks ago in the de-facto East title game at Coastal Carolina. The Mountaineers led 17-9 at halftime and went up 23-21 in the fourth quarter, but surrendered two late touchdowns to lose 34-23.

The Mountaineers had a 415-369 production edge, but saw three turnovers and a defensive score late to seal the outcome. The other loss this season came early at Marshall, 17-7, as the two losses for Appalachian State this season are against teams with a combined 16-0 record.

Betting Analysis – Louisiana Ragin Cajuns

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • 2020: 8-1 SU, 4-5 ATS, 3-6 O/U

It isn’t a surprise that Louisiana is having a successful season, following up a 11-3 2019 campaign that included a bowl win. The only losses came in a competitive opener with Mississippi State, and then a pair of games both home and away vs. Appalachian State. Louisiana was +150 in Sun Belt scoring last season, finishing the season by averaging nearly 38 points per game.

Levi Lewis is a senior quarterback that has now played in games in four different seasons, though 2019 was his first season as a full-time starter. He had 26 touchdowns and only four interceptions last season, while throwing for over 3,000 yards. His pace this year hasn’t been quite as successful, but he remains a top quarterback in the conference and provides mobility.

Elijah Mitchell also looks likely to fall short of last season’s rushing production, but has improved his average to 6.0 yards per carry this season. Louisiana is likely to eclipse 2,000 rushing yards as a team this week, and has posted a strong 5.8 yards per carry average which is seventh nationally.

While Appalachian State has a stronger defensive reputation than Louisiana, these teams both allowed exactly 131 points in eight Sun Belt games last season. In one less game, the Mountaineers have allowed 59 fewer points than the Ragin’ Cajuns in league play this season. Louisiana is slightly ahead of Appalachian State in allowing 4.7 yards per play compared to 4.8, both top 25 marks nationally.


Betting Analysis - Appalachian State Mountaineers

  • 2020: 7-2 S/U, 2-7 ATS, 3-6 O/U

Appalachian State has been one of the nation’s top rushing teams for several seasons in a row. This year isn’t far behind Louisiana posting 5.4 yards per attempt for a top 20 rate nationally, while averaging 238 yards per game on the ground. The Mountaineers run the ball over 60% of its plays, third most in the Sun Belt.

Senior quarterback Zac Thomas is a third-year starter, and while he has his best completion percentage season going by a significant margin, he will also have the most interceptions of his career. That number is eight, after posting just six a piece the past two seasons with more attempts.

Thomas is a bit taller than Lewis, but they have similar skill sets with both quarterbacks also rushing for over 200 yards this season. Three interceptions for Thomas came in the loss to Coastal Carolina, a game where he was a question mark ahead of kickoff after going to the hospital while leaving the previous game.

With two mobile quarterbacks and run-heavy offenses in place for this contest, the run defense numbers are likely to be important to consider. Appalachian State is allowing 37 fewer yards per game on the ground, but these teams have identical 4.3 yards per carry rates against them.

Both teams have been a bit better than that of late, allowing just 4.0 yards per carry the past three games. That figure that stands stronger for the Mountaineers with a recent game with Coastal Carolina included. The Chanticleers had a larger rushing total vs. Louisiana, but a stronger average vs. Appalachian State in comparing those two games.

Historically Speaking


Appalachian State joined the Sun Belt just in 2014, and these teams have met eight times since then. This includes four games the past two seasons, as there is great familiarity for this matchup.

Appalachian State is 8-0 S/U and 5-3 ATS in those games, but since a blowout win in 2017 for the Mountaineers, the meetings the past two seasons have been decided by 10, 11, 10, and 7 points. Three of those four games were played in Boone.

After a low-scoring 17-7 game last October in Lafayette, these teams provided a shootout final score of 45-38 in the championship game. It wasn't a close game however. A pick-six in the third quarter put the Mountaineers up 42-17, before Louisiana provided late production. 14 points and 140 yards for Louisiana came on two late scoring drives to make the final result closer. This gave the Ragin’ Cajuns a 513-416 production edge despite never being a threat to win.

Last Week

Following a tough loss in a big game with Coastal Carolina, Appalachian State did not have a letdown at all. They delivered a convincing 47-10 win over Troy on the road. It was 21-0 eight minutes into the game, with a defensive touchdown included. The Mountaineers posted a dominant 554-231 edge in yards. Appalachian State didn’t score in the fourth quarter and Troy had a third of its yardage on its final drive. The result could have been even more convincing with the Mountaineers averaging 7.2 yards per carry.

Louisiana had a rivalry game last week on the road, but had no trouble dispatching winless Louisiana-Monroe. It was 49-14 by halftime with a defensive score, and the Ragin’ Cajuns wound up with 70 points. They scored twice in the final seven minutes of the game to pour it on. The production edge was 511-257, while gaining an outrageous 8.2 yards per rush.

Notable Betting Trends

-- Under Napier since 2018, Louisiana is 8-4 ATS as an underdog, winning S/U in the only instance this season at Iowa State.

-- Louisiana is 11-6 S/U and 11-6 ATS on the road since 2018, though just 1-2 ATS in SBC road games this season.

-- Appalachian State is 35-6 S/U at home since 2014 but just 17-22-2 ATS including going 1-3 ATS at home this season.

-- Appalachian State is 8-4 ATS since 2015 as a single-digit favorite including 3-0 at home in that span at that price range.

Louisiana-Appalachian State Predictions

  • Score Prediction: Appalachian State 28 Louisiana 27
  • Best Bet: OVER

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