After the storm: Western Kentucky faces App St in Boca Bowl

Boca Raton Bowl: Appalachian State (10-3) vs. Western Kentucky (8-5), Saturday, 11 a.m. Eastern (ESPN)

Line: Appalachian State by 4, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Appalachian State leads 4-1.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Western Kentucky QB Bailey Zappe has thrown for 5,545 yards and 56 touchdowns this season, putting him well within reach of the FBS records in both categories. Texas Tech’s B.J. Symons threw for 5,833 yards in 2003; LSU’s Joe Burrow passed for 60 touchdowns in 2019. Appalachian State is seeking to finish a seventh consecutive season with a bowl win. Since 2015, only Alabama — aided by the College Football Playoff — has more bowl wins (9) than the Mountaineers.

KEY MATCHUP

It’s very simple: Zappe vs. the Appalachian State secondary. Western Kentucky has thrown for more than 400 yards seven times this season and for at least 300 in 12 of its 13 games. Appalachian State hasn’t allowed any team to throw for more than 295 yards since 2019. The Mountaineers enter bowl season ranked 12th nationally in pass defense efficiency, while no team has thrown for more yards than Western Kentucky.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Appalachian State: QB Chase Brice has thrown for 3,020 yards this season, the fourth player in school history to break the 3,000-yard milestone.

Western Kentucky: WR Jerreth Sterns might be the best receiver that not enough people have heard of this season. His numbers are absurd: 137 catches, 1,718 yards, 14 touchdowns.

FACTS & FIGURES

Western Kentucky will be playing with its state in mind, after the deadly tornados that struck in recent days and claimed more than 60 lives. Appalachian State officials have also been contributing to the tornado recovery effort, leading food and monetary donation drives as a prequel to the bowl matchup. … Appalachian State is 6-0 all-time in bowl games. … Western Kentucky is in the Boca Bowl for the second time, after winning in 2016. … Expect points in this game. In the seven previous instances, the winning team has scored at least 32 points every time, at least 49 in five of the seven games. … The teams met five previous times, most recently a 17-14 win by Appalachian State in 2000 in what was then called the Division I-AA quarterfinals. … For those who like to play the who-beat-who game, good luck seeking a hint of who’ll win this one. Western Kentucky beat Tennessee-Martin, which beat Jacksonville State, which beat Florida State, which beat Miami, which beat Appalachian State. Meanwhile, Appalachian State beat Marshall, which beat North Texas, which beat UTSA, which beat Western Kentucky twice.

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