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Appalachian State can weather Miami Hurricanes

Three-time Football Championship Subdivision national champion Appalachian State is best known for its upset of blueblood Michigan at the Big House in 2007.

More recently, the Mountaineers went toe-to-toe in the trenches with Tennessee in both teams’ season opener two weeks ago before falling to the Volunteers 20-13 in overtime.

Now in its third season as a Football Bowl Subdivision member, Appalachian State gets the rare opportunity of hosting a major power, as Miami travels to Boone, North Carolina, on Saturday to battle the Mountaineers.

Upon arriving from Missouri, Appalachian State athletic director Doug Gillin started contacting some of the nation’s top football programs, gauging their interest in a home-and-home series. Most declined, but the Hurricanes ultimately accepted, and coach Mark Richt might regret it.

Kidd Brewer Stadium, dubbed “The Rock,” typically holds 24,050 fans. On Saturday, school officials are expecting to accommodate closer to 35,000. Students will be admitted free and stand on a big hill.

His comments almost seem tongue in cheek considering the programs’ histories, but Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield was not performing standup when asked about the matchup.

“We are fine with giving up a little size,” he said, “but we are going to be able to make up for it in speed.”

Take the 3½ points with Appalachian State in the biggest home game in the program’s brief FBS existence.

Five more plays (home team in CAPS):

Boston College (+6) over VIRGINIA TECH — The Hokies have a new coach (Justin Fuente) and a first-year quarterback (Jerod Evans). The Eagles still boast one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s top defenses. Boston College coach Steve Addazio is 5-1 against the spread as a conference road underdog, and Virginia Tech has failed miserably as home chalk in recent years, going 14-30 ATS since 2011.

Michigan State (+7½) over NOTRE DAME — Michigan State has won 11 or more games in four of the past five seasons, but that streak is clearly in jeopardy considering its personnel losses. Spartans coach Mark Dantonio seems to always outperform expectations, as evidenced by Michigan State’s 7-3 ATS record in its past 10 games as an away ’dog versus a ranked opponent.

Texas A&M-AUBURN (Under 54½) — The Tigers are still searching for a quarterback and an offensive identity. NFL scouts, meanwhile, are salivating at the thought of getting a shot at either A&M’s Myles Garrett or Auburn’s Carl Lawson, two of the top defensive ends in college football.

OKLAHOMA (+1½) over Ohio State — Oklahoma was last a home underdog in 2000, when top-ranked Nebraska made a visit to Norman. The Sooners handled the Cornhuskers 31-14. Ohio State has looked strong in two season-opening wins against outclassed opposition, but the Buckeyes had a record-setting nine players selected in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft and will start feeling those losses Saturday.

CALIFORNIA (+7) over Texas — Texas has quickly (and perhaps prematurely) ascended to the fringe of The Associated Press’ top 10 after posting a signature double-overtime victory over Notre Dame, then making easy work of outmanned Texas-El Paso. We will see just how good the Longhorns are in their next three games.

Last week: 1-4 against the spread

Season: 4-6

Paul Stone of VegasSportsAuthority.com is providing college football analysis for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Follow on Twitter: @paulstonesports

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