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2017/Georgia Preview: If Not Now, When?

#GiveEmHell
 
If not now, when?
 

There’s no Troy on the schedule. And the Trojans would be a threat ​to App State ​– they have a shot to knock off “Group of Five” power Boise State on Saturday afternoon, then do some damage in the Sun Belt #FunBelt.

/Hates self SO MUCH for using ‘Group of Five,’ as if a collection of powerless entities that does not use its (limited) heft to give it any collective sway can be a ‘Group.’ It’s an utterly laughable and fictional term./

And the App State Mountaineers once again – and to what should be the chagrin of serious App fans who want to see and beat the best each season – won’t see League Office darling Arkansas State.

There is Saturday’s *wink* not-a-check game *wink* at No. 15 Georgia (*-more on that below). There’s the tremendous Sept. 23 blood feud at The Rock against those hated Wake Forest Demon Deacons. And there’s the usual Rivalry Hate Week tilt against Georgia Southern #TheStink in early November.

(Watch this and try – TRY! – to not get hyped for Saturday evening and this season. You. Can’t. Do. It.)

/Slams head into wall. Regrets it. Still hype AF doe…/

Those are the schedule’s highlights – and each one should be fun, especially the Mountaineers and Deacons renewing the Highway 421 Rivalry. From there…it’s a collection of programs the college football world either forgot (those Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns), cast aside (UMass) or never knew existed (Georgia State).

It’s never too early for a Charlie Cobb burn, folks.

The parts of App’s schedule that AD Doug Gillin could control are solid. The rest was created by the #FunBelt Powers That Be. Can’t blame the AD for the rest. But, let’s be frank, fam, Wake represents the bottom of the ACC (read: Clemson, Florida State & Friends). And #Stink is rebuilding – still.

The Mountaineers should have their way – eventually, after GSU’s Hate Week adrenaline wears off – with those hated Eagles. Wake is a winnable game, especially since it’s in Title Town – in fact, your correspondent columnist blogger only-guy-they-could-get-to-do-this hasn’t ruled out dubbing it a must-win for the App State program and laying some serious ca$h on the ‘Neers. (** – More on that in a few weeks…)

Murderers’ Row this schedule of Sun Belt misfits, FCS also-rans and MAC castoffs ain’t. But, again, Gillin did what he could – and scheduling, like pimpin’, just ain’t easy, folks.

But facts are facts: The 2017 slate includes most of the 2016 Sun Belt’s flavorless muffin top of utterly dull .500 and below teams and occupants of the conference’s putrid, uh, cellar.

So for a team led by a polished and poised (and dreamy!) senior quarterback and a stingy and talented defense, the path is clear for a run to the program’s first outright FBS conference title.

Outright.

If not now, when?

**

* – About those Georgia Bulldogs and Saturday’s 6​:15 p.m. SEC-Sun Belt Invitational…

/Cha-ching/

…We’ve had this debate a million times, haven’t we? These games are essential for programs of our ilk. $1 million is $1 million, after all. And some luxury items, even with donations from our drunken cherished alumni and corporate partners, don’t pay for themselves.

Your blogger has preached enough on this since he was lucky enough to inherit this space. To review: The national media and App fan base should let Michigan fade from their App expectations, but #NeverForget that magical day in Ann Arbor – and never stop celebrating it nor rubbing it in the smug faces of any Michigan grads/fans we might know… But to expect a repeat every season is merely setting oneself up for failure and sets the bar too high for the current players, some who were still in single digit ages at the time.

But…

…This AppFan is (temporarily) changing his tune given these current players. What they did last season at Tennessee was truly impressive. It still stings that we let ‘em off the hook. Hot Take No. 1 of the 2017 season: This game is winnable. Tough, but winnable. If the right things happen…

…But the ‘Neers will have to be balanced. Georgia is ready for what they see as a SEC-caliber RB in “The Franchise” Jalin Moore. So Lamb and what seems an ever-changing cast of WRs will have to move the ball early and often to open up the running game for Moore.

And that Mountaineer defense will have to clamp down on Bulldog beast RB Nick Chubb and backfield sidekick Sony Michel. The Dawgs’ running game was inconsistent during a 2016 decline, and there are questions aplenty about Georgia’s OL. That means the App State D-Line, one of the best in the Group of Five, has a chance to keep this one close. Shut down big plays up top, and ASU can hang around for sure.

Bottom Line: The Mountaineers get a big, fat, beautiful paycheck, as POTUS might put it. They put on a quality showing in a state that is key to its recruiting efforts. And they give the Dawgs a major scare. But Georgia has too many athletes and too much depth. The SEC-Sun Belt chasm will show itself, but not until late: Dawgs win it and pull away late, 31-21. But the Mountaineers will blow up the 14.5-point spread, for those into that kind of thing. Give ‘Em Hell, boys.

–Appstradamus

Follow your favorite barely tolerated blogger DURING the game on Twitter @APPstradamus for analysis, snark and third-down bell emojis (!!).

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