UGA Football

Have oddsmakers overreacted to App State's Michigan, Tennessee games?

Appalachian State quarterback Taylor Lamb hands the ball off to running back Jalin Moore in a 2016 game against Tennessee.
Appalachian State quarterback Taylor Lamb hands the ball off to running back Jalin Moore in a 2016 game against Tennessee. AP

Ten years ago, it was presumed a fifth-ranked Michigan squad would obliterate Appalachian State.

Forget the fact the Mountaineers were dominating the FCS subdivision at the time. Michigan entered the year No. 5 and held national championship aspirations. It also had future first-overall pick Jake Long on its offensive line.

With the talent level quite uneven between the teams, oddsmakers in Las Vegas didn't even set a betting line for the game.

Of course, what transpired is arguably the greatest upset in college football history and certainly ranks among the greatest upsets in all of sports.

Georgia hosts Appalachian State Saturday, just a day after the 10-year anniversary of the Mountaineers' historic upset over Michigan. And this betting line is quite different.

Georgia is only considered a 14.5-point favorite over Appalachian State, a team that began its transition to the FBS in 2013. The football program from Boone, North Carolina, has certainly earned respect nationally. Even analyst Phil Steele, appearing on radio station WJOX in Birmingham, Alabama, said that Appalachian State will take Georgia "right to the wire."

The Mountaineers, however, haven't had much success against Power 5 programs since that win over Michigan. Since the 34-32 victory over Michigan, here is how Appalachian State has fared against Power 5 teams:

  • 2008: Loss vs. No. 7 LSU 41-13
  • 2010: Loss vs. Florida 48-10
  • 2011: Loss vs. No. 13 Virginia Tech 66-13
  • 2013: Loss vs. Georgia 45-6
  • 2014: Loss vs. Michigan 52-14
  • 2015: Loss vs. No. 12 Clemson 41-10
  • 2016: Loss vs. No. 9 Tennessee 20-13 in overtime
  • 2016: Loss vs. No. 25 Miami 45-10

Judging by recent point spreads, Appalachian State's plus-14.5 line against Georgia isn't out of the ordinary. In 2015, Clemson entered the game as a 17-point favorite. Tennessee was a 20.5-point favorite in last year's close overtime win over the Mountaineers.

Miami was only a 3.5-point favorite before blowing out Appalachian State just a couple of weeks later. Obviously, the performance against Tennessee had a lot to do with this line.

When Georgia and Appalachian State played in 2013, the Bulldogs were only 11-point favorites. It seems evident that the oddsmakers in Las Vegas have respected Appalachian State a lot more since the Michigan win. But in totality, the Mountaineers have lost its last eight games against Power 5 opponents by an average of 34 points.

When it comes to Georgia, however, it isn't like the Bulldogs have been dominant against Group of 5 or FCS opponents in recent meetings. Here is how Georgia's last five games against these opponents have gone:

  • 2015: Win vs. Louisiana-Monroe 51-14
  • 2015: Win vs. Southern 48-6
  • 2015: Win vs. Georgia Southern 24-17 in overtime
  • 2016: Win vs. Nicholls 26-24
  • 2016: Win vs. Louisiana-Lafayette 35-21

It's worth noting that Georgia held only a 20-6 lead over Southern at the half. It's also worth noting Georgia held a 35-7 lead against Louisiana-Lafayette before putting in the backups.

But in the three games it played against Georgia Southern, Nicholls and Lousiana-Lafayette, Georgia's average margin of victory was only eight points. So this could be another factor into why the oddsmakers have Georgia as only a 14.5-point favorite over a Sun Belt opponent.

While Appalachian State isn't usually competitive against Power 5 programs, it does have two high-profile games, including a win, it can point to. And that alone can cause someone such as Georgia head coach Kirby Smart to worry.

"I know the players are excited. They respect Appalachian State, the history of the program, the teams they played last year they played really well and they do a tremendous job," Smart said. "The Sun Belt Conference as a whole, to me, has gotten better and better each year and these guys are leaders of that conference."

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