Coming off a 6-6 season that began with excitement and ended without a bowl appearance, Appalachian State is looking to bounce back and start 2023 with a home win over Gardner-Webb. The Mountaineers finished fifth in the Sun Belt last year, while the Bulldogs won the Big South (FCS).
The Mountaineers and Bulldogs last met five years ago, with App State rolling to a 65-point win. That Mountaineers team finished 11-3, while the Runnin’ Bulldogs wound up just 3-8 — so this matchup likely won’t be such a walk in the park for App.
Gardner-Webb at Appalachian State
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN+
App State: 6-6 (3-5 Sun Belt) in 2022
Gardner Webb: 7-6 (5-0 Big South) in 2022
App State 3-0 all-time, including a 72-7 home win in 2018
Players to Watch
App State quarterback Ryan Burger: After a lengthy quarterback competition in camp, the redshirt freshman will get his first real shot at proving he has what it takes to succeed former quarterback Chase Brice. Last season, Burger played 26 snaps against Robert Morris, completing 4-of-6 passes for 40 yards and rushing twice for 23 yards.
SC State quarterback Narii Gaither: Gaither was one of 35 FCS players named to the Walter Payton Award Preseason Watch List. The redshirt senior earned first-team all-conference honors in 2022 and is primed for another big year. He is fifth on the Bulldogs’ all-time rushing list, and he will be an early test for App coach Shawn Clark’s run defense.