App State Faces Eagles in Battle of Sun Belt Unbeatens (2018-10-25 11:29:52)

BOONE, N.C. — As FCS powerhouses, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern competed against each other for Southern Conference titles and national championships.

Thursday night, in the middle of their fifth FBS seasons, the stakes are high in an elevated and different way.
Four days after receiving the first AP Top 25 ranking in program history, No. 25 App State (5-1) faces Georgia Southern (6-1) in an ESPNU showdown of longtime rivals with unbeaten Sun Belt Conference records. Heading into the 7:30 p.m. kickoff, the Mountaineers and Eagles are both 3-0 in the league, looking to join Troy at 4-0 atop the East Division with a Dec. 1 championship game appearance in someone's future.
App State has played Georgia Southern annually since 1993, when the Eagles joined the Mountaineers in the Southern Conference, and Thursday will be the first time since 2000 that they meet with both teams possessing at least a 3-0 conference record. 
"You don't have to have any talks for motivation in games like this, and you can throw the records out," App State head coach Scott Satterfield said. "It's just a fun game to be a part of."
Before moving to the FBS level in 2014, App State and Georgia Southern combined for nine national championships and 22 Southern Conference titles. The Eagles finished first in the Sun Belt in 2014, when the Mountaineers bounced back from a difficult start to win their final six games, and Appalachian is currently seeking a third straight Sun Belt championship.
Since starting 0-2 in Sun Belt play in 2014, the Mountaineers are 30-3 against league foes and 14-2 in conference road games. This trip to Statesboro, Ga., pits an App State team coached by Satterfield, who was the Mountaineers' starting quarterback when the rivalry took off in 1993, against a Georgia Southern team coached by former App State assistant Chad Lunsford.
After Lunsford married his wife, Tippy, they actually lived in the Satterfield family's basement during the 2002 season. There is other common ground, as Scot Sloan is the Eagles' first-year defensive coordinator following an eight-year stint on the Mountaineers' coaching staff.
On the field, it will be a matchup to two prolific, run-first offenses and a pair of athletic defenses that use similar 3-4 schemes.
The Mountaineers lead the Sun Belt by allowing just 15.7 points and 294.8 yards per game. Georgia Southern is second at 19.3 points per game.
App State leads the league in scoring offense (44.8) and total offense (476.0) while possessing a rushing attack that ranks second at 265.0 yards per game. Executing the option from a pistol formation, Georgia Southern is first at 275.6.
The first AP Top 25 ranking has brought national attention to Appalachian State, but the Mountaineers need to keep winning and remain in contention for another Sun Belt championship in order to prolong their run as a ranked team.
"It's a great recognition, but that's not going to beat Georgia Southern," Satterfield said. "All of our focus and everything that we're doing, it's a quick week, so you start getting ready, and that's what we've been doing."