Mountaineers play at Western Carolina
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
After seven games, Speir has plenty of work ahead of him. Western Carolina (1-7, 0-6 SoCon) has not won a SoCon football game since a 24-13 victory over The Citadel in October of 2010. Since that game, the Catamounts have lost 20 straight SoCon games, including two to Appalachian State.
The teams renew their rivalry Saturday at E.J. Whitmire Stadium in Cullowhee.
Western Carolina goes into the game on a seven-game losing streak after beating Division II Mars Hill the first weekend of the season. Western has been outscored by an average of 42-23 since that win, and has not beaten a Division I team in its last 23 tries.
Upsetting Appalachian State (5-3, 3-2 SoCon) would give the Catamounts a huge lift going into their final two games of the season, and for recruiting once the season is over.
“What a win would mean to the seniors and the players who are here and for us going into the offseason and players buying in to what we’re doing would be big,” Speir said. “We’re 1-7 now and we’re not going to let up on what we’re doing to build this football team. There’s a lot riding on this ballgame.”
For both teams, possession of the Old Mountain Jug is at stake. Appalachian State has dominated the series by winning 25 of the last 27 games involving the Jug. Western Carolina has not won the Jug since beating Appalachian State 30-27 in 2004.
Appalachian State kept possession of the Jug by beating the Catamounts 46-14 in 2011. Appalachian State has won the last seven games with Western Carolina by an average score of 40-14.
As far as the postseason goes, there’s much more riding for Appalachian State. The Mountaineers, who lost a key 38-28 showdown to Wofford last Saturday, needs to win a minimum of two out of their next three games to have a chance at the FCS playoffs.
After facing Western Carolina, Appalachian State plays at No. 2 Georgia Southern and hosts Furman.
“In all probability, a conference championship is out,” Mountaineers coach Jerry Moore said. “We don’t want to go into the next three games thinking somebody’s got to beat somebody. We’ve got to beat Western then next week (beat) Georgia Southern and then Furman. It’s a three-game season, so we’ve got to play one at a time. We have the type of team that can do that.”
Scoring points isn’t a big problem for the Catamounts, who average 25.8 points per game. Western Carolina averages 365.8 yards per game.