Troy, Appalachian State set for pivotal Sun Belt showdown

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) Troy and Appalachian State are set for a pivotal Sun Belt Conference showdown one season after waging a three-overtime contest.

The two teams play Saturday at Troy in only the third meeting this deep into the season between Sun Belt teams with unbeaten league marks.

''It's going to be a great college football game,'' Mountaineers coach Scott Satterfield said. ''You've got two of the better teams in the league that are battling, especially this late in the season with everything on the line. This is why you play the game. When you coach the game, you play the game, this is what it's for. It's exciting and it's fun to be a part of this game.''

Troy (7-1, 4-0) hasn't been involved in such a meaningful Sun Belt game since the program's string of five straight league titles ended in 2010. The Trojans have been getting votes in the Associated Press poll for the first time.

The Mountaineers (7-2, 5-0), who won last season's marathon game 44-41, are more familiar with this position having become the only other Sun Belt team to start 7-1 last season.

Both teams are riding six-game winning streaks. Arkansas State (4-4, 4-0) also hasn't lost a league game. Troy hosts the Red Wolves in a Thursday night game next week, while Appalachian State doesn't play them this season.

''People are excited and rightfully so,'' Trojans coach Neal Brown said. ''I am excited about the energy on campus and in our community. Our community support is higher than it has been in the six years I have been a part of the program.''

Troy, whose only loss came 30-24 to No. 3 Clemson, has fallen behind by two touchdowns each of its past two games before rallying.

This is a matchup that's intriguing for more than the stakes. Troy leads the league in scoring offense and Appalachian State is second; that pecking order is reversed for scoring and total defense.

The Mountaineers have run for 218.6 yards per game and a league-best 18 touchdowns behind the Sun Belt's only 1,000-yard rusher, Jalin Moore. Troy has allowed only five rushing touchdowns and 97.8 yards per game. Plus Appalachian State leads the nation in interceptions and Troy is tops nationally in picks per game.

The Trojans also sport the league's No. 2 rusher Jordan Chunn and second-leading passer Brandon Silvers.

''What they did to get to us last year is what they're doing every game this year,'' Satterfield said. ''Last year they were still trying to find themselves early on in the season, and when they played us it was clicking on all cylinders.''

The 36-year-old Brown doesn't want his players getting too swept up in the magnitude of the game.

''Any time you play a game that is perceived as a big game to the outside world and people are going to be talking more about this game, they have to understand, you don't have to play a perfect game to win,'' the second-year head coach and former offensive coordinator said. ''We just have to play really sound. The same thing goes for Appalachian State.''

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More AP college football at www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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