Date: Dec. 17, 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Location: Cramton Bowl | Montgomery, Alabama
Best moment: The best moment was almost an upset of No. 9 Tennessee. Appalachian State was a field goal away. But it wasn’t meant to be. Instead, it was probably the Mountaineers’ 42-17 win over Louisiana-Monroe earlier this month because that was the game that Marcus Cox became the school’s all-time leader in rushing yards.
Lowest moment: This could also be the Tennessee game, but the loss to Troy cost Appalachian State an undefeated conference record and an outright Sun Belt title. The Mountaineers took the lead with 3:29 left, but Troy responded, going 85 yards and punching in the winning touchdown with a minute left in the game.
Key player: Cox might be the school’s rushing leader, but it’s fellow running back Jalin Moore who leads the team with 1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season. When Moore went over 100 yards in a game, the Mountaineers were 8-0. When he failed to reach the century mark, they were just 1-3.
Motivation level: Considering it will be only the second bowl game in school history, there should be plenty of motivation. In last year’s Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, Appalachian State made a furious fourth-quarter comeback and kicked a field goal as time expired to knock off Ohio, 31-29. What will the Mountaineers do for an encore? -- Greg Ostendorf
Best moment: Toledo trailed Northern Illinois, 14-3, on the road at halftime but rallied for a 31-24 victory. Kareem Hunt scored the game-winning touchdown with 1 minute, 15 seconds left to keep the Rockets in contention in the MAC West Division. Before the comeback win, Toledo had lost six straight games to the Huskies.
Lowest moment: After a 6-1 start, the Rockets lost at home to Ohio, 31-26. It was the Bobcats’ first win in Toledo since 1967 and first win in the series since 1988. Ohio went on to win the MAC East, but it was still a surprising upset and one in which Toledo squandered multiple opportunities.
Key player: In his first season as a starter, quarterback Logan Woodside has thrown for 3,882 yards and 43 touchdowns with nine interceptions while completing 69.1 percent of his throws. He ranks No. 4 in the FBS in passing yards and No. 2 nationally in passer efficiency rating, behind only Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.
Motivation level: High. There was no shame in finishing second in the MAC West behind Western Michigan, which had a magical year. MAC teams are usually fired up to play before a national audience in the postseason, and the Rockets should be poised to put on a show with their exciting offense under first-year head coach Jason Candle.
-- Brian Bennett