Nate Noel breaking free (copy)

App State running back Nate Noel currently leads the Sun Belt in rushing and will be a key player for the Mountaineers against Troy on Nov. 20.

TROY, Al. — Currently sitting in the top spot of the Sun Belt Conference’s East Division, the Appalachian State Mountaineers can secure the division title and a spot in the conference championship on Saturday, Nov. 20, when they take on Troy.

The Mountaineers (8-2, 5-1) have reeled off four straight wins and have only lost to West Division titans Louisiana in conference play this season. With a ground-and-pound offense spearheaded by Nate Noel and Camerun Peoples — first and second, respectively, in the conference rushing yards per game standings — the Mountaineers have been playing hard-nosed football as they try to get back to the top of the mountain.

Meanwhile, the Trojans (5-5, 3-3) have had an up-and-down season, but carry the conference’s third-ranked defense, allowing 20.9 points per game. They will play their third straight home game when the Mountaineers come to town, but lost their previous outing 35-21 to Louisiana.

While the Trojans have allowed 30 or more points in two of their last three games, they specialize in not letting teams into the endzone. However, if Troy’s defense can slow down App’s offense, the Mountaineers proved in their 31-7 win over South Alabama that the defense is capable of stepping up to secure a win.

The Mountaineers have held their opponents under 20 points on five occasions this season. This has been thanks to a suffocating run defense that has not allowed 100 yards rushing in five games this season and a defensive backfield that has not given up 250 passing yards since the Oct. 20 win over Coastal Carolina.

Should the Mountaineers win and clinch a spot in the conference title game, it will give them a shot to rematch the No. 22 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns — the only team to beat them in conference play this year. Alternatively, losses for Coastal (against Texas State) or Georgia State (against Arkansas State) would secure the Mountaineers’ division title.

If Troy defends their house while Coastal and the Panthers win, the Mountaineers will have to beat Georgia Southern in their regular season finale to secure the divisional crown.

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