Thomas on the run

App State quarterback Zac Thomas leads the Mountaineers into the 2020 season.

BOONE — Two matchups against Power Five Conference opponents with 2019 bowl appearances and a pair of nationally televised Sun Belt Conference games separated by seven days are among the highlights on a 2020 football schedule that includes two home games apiece for App State in September, October and November.

Moving forward from a historic 13-1 season that ended with a top-20 national ranking and a bowl victory for Shawn Clark in his head coaching debut, the Mountaineers have six regular season home games with visits to Kidd Brewer Stadium from Morgan State (Sept. 5 season opener, Hall of Fame Weekend), Massachusetts (Sept. 26, Family Weekend), Louisiana (Oct. 7 for a Wednesday night showdown on ESPN2), Arkansas State (Oct. 24, Homecoming), Georgia State (Nov. 14) and Troy (Nov. 28, Senior Day for the regular season finale).

The road games begin with back-to-back September visits to Wake Forest (Sept. 11 for a Friday night game in Winston-Salem) and Wisconsin (Sept. 19). After two home games, a Wednesday night trip to Georgia Southern for an ESPN2 game on Oct. 14 occurs a week after the Sun Belt opener against Louisiana. The Mountaineers have back-to-back road games against ULM (Oct. 31) and Texas State (Nov. 7) before playing their final road game of the regular season at Coastal Carolina on Nov. 21.

The Saturday home games in September and October will begin at 3:30 p.m. The two Saturday home games in November will start at 2:30 p.m.

The 2020 Sun Belt Championship Game between East and West Division winners will be held Dec. 5 at an on-campus location of the division winner with the best league record. Louisiana traveled to Boone to play App State in each of the first two Sun Belt title games, so the Ragin’ Cajuns’ visit on Oct. 7 will be their fifth appearance in Kidd Brewer Stadium since December 2017.

South Alabama is the lone member of the 10-team Sun Belt not on App State’s eight-game conference schedule in 2020, and the Mountaineers will be playing Arkansas State in Boone for the first time since 2015. The App State-Georgia Southern game will be a midweek nationally televised matchup for the seventh straight year, but this will be their first FBS meeting in which App State doesn’t play five days before facing the Eagles on a short week.

The series with Wake Forest resumes, as the 2017 meeting in Boone was the 23rd game in series history, and the trip to Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., will be App State’s first-ever meeting with the Badgers. Wake Forest went 8-5 in 2019, and Wisconsin finished No. 11 in the final AP Top 25 with a 10-4 record.

All told, App State will play six teams that made bowl appearances in 2019: Wake Forest, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Georgia Southern, Arkansas State and Georgia State. The Mountaineers are facing Morgan State (FCS) for the first time and UMass for the third time, with their first FBS matchup occurring in 2017. App State beat the Minutemen in the 2006 FCS national championship game.

App State returns eight of its primary offensive starters, five of its primary defensive starters and every primary specialist aside from the leading kick returner from the 13-1 team that won a fourth consecutive Sun Belt title, captured a fifth straight bowl game, finished with the highest national rankings (No. 18 Coaches, No. 19 AP) ever by a Sun Belt team and posted the best final ranking by a North Carolina-based school since 2015. There are 12 returning offensive players and 13 returning defensive players who started at least one game in 2019, plus four scholarship players who spent time at running back last season and combined for 1,217 rushing yards while averaging 6.1 yards per carry.

2020 App State Football Schedule

Sat., Sept. 5 vs. Morgan State (Hall of Fame), 3:30 p.m.

Fri., Sept. 11 at Wake Forest

Sat., Sept. 19 at Wisconsin

Sat., Sept. 26 vs. Massachusetts (Family Weekend), 3:30 p.m.

Wed., Oct. 7 vs. Louisiana[ESPN2]

Wed., Oct. 14 at Georgia Southern[ESPN2]

Sat., Oct. 24 vs. Arkansas State(Homecoming), 3:30 p.m.

Sat., Oct. 31 at ULM

Sat., Nov. 7 at Texas State

Sat., Nov. 14 vs. Georgia State, 2:30 p.m.

Sat., Nov. 21 at Coastal Carolina

Sat., Nov. 28 vs. Troy(Senior Day), 2:30 p.m.

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