Raycom Media Camellia Bowl: Ohio Bobcats vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers
Date: Dec. 19, 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Location: Montgomery, Alabama | Cramton Bowl
Best moment: The Bobcats enjoyed a Senior Night romp over Ball State in a 48-31 win. Their 607 yards of offense were the most by the program since 1997 and those were the most points Ohio had scored since 2013.
Lowest moment: Ohio entered its Oct. 17 home game against Western Michigan at 5-1, with its only loss coming by three points at Minnesota. Things couldn’t have gone much worse as the Bobcats allowed 430 rushing yards in a 49-14 humbling.
Key player: Linebacker Quentin Poling has been a disruptive playmaker. He is tied for the team lead in interceptions (three) and sacks (four) and has forced two fumbles in 10 games this year.
Motivation level: High. The Bobcats ended the year on a high note, winning three straight and beating MAC power Northern Illinois in the finale. Ohio finished 6-6 last year but did not earn a bowl invitation, so it will be plenty motivated to prove it belongs in the postseason. -- Brian Bennett
Best moment: A dominant victory over Georgia Southern – the Eagles’ first defeat in Sun Belt Conference play – clinched Appalachian State’s first bowl appearance as an FBS program, but arguably the most exciting game was its overtime victory over Troy. Stephen Burns, Kennan Gilchrist and Doug Middleton snuffed out a fake field-goal attempt in the third overtime period, allowing Zach Matics’ 24-yard field goal to clinch the Mountaineers’ 44-41 victory.
Lowest moment: The Mountaineers carried a 10-game Sun Belt winning streak into their Nov. 5 game against Arkansas State. However, the Red Wolves generated 517 yards of offense (309 on the ground) against a previously effective Mountaineers defense. Arkansas State trailed early, but used two key takeaways to keep the game close before their offense took over, eventually winning 40-27 and handing the Mountaineers their second loss of the season.
Key player: Several players deserve a mention – including cornerback Latrell Gibbs, defensive lineman Ronald Blair and 1,000-yard rusher Marcus Cox – but quarterback Taylor Lamb earns top billing. The sophomore has again been effective as both a passer and runner while operating the Mountaineers’ spread offense. Lamb was named Sun Belt Freshman of the Year last fall with 2,381 passing yards (plus 483 rushing) and 17 touchdowns, and he could surpass all of his 2014 numbers by season’s end.
Motivation level: High. This is the Mountaineers’ first chance to play in a bowl game after making the leap from FCS powerhouse to fledgling FBS program. It has been a foregone conclusion since mid-October that Appalachian State would make a postseason appearance. Still, excitement will be high, as a bowl win would rank among the biggest hurdles the program has cleared since joining the FBS. -- David Ching