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Coastal vs App a Sun Belt Showcase

By BJ Bennett
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Coastal Carolina vs Appalachian State isn't just a big game in in those markets, it's big game, period.

The spotlight is on Conway, South Carolina.

It's there where two of college football's best stories will continue to be told. One, having reached the national peak three times, is tenured and well-established; the other, crashing into the polls like waves on the shore, have a powerful energy and momentum. Coastal Carolina, 7-0 and ranked 15th overall, has quickly become part of the national narrative. Appalachian State, winners of at least a share of the Sun Belt championship for four consecutive seasons, is already a Group of Five fixture. Another step forward, for one, awaits.

College football is captivated by the Chanticleers -- and for good reason. With its home on the Grand Strand, Coastal Carolina's backyard looks like how spring break feels. Revamped Brooks Stadium is home to Benton Field, which is proudly and properly teal. The mascot is a fierce rooster from Canterbury Tales. Beyond all that, the Chanticleers are undefeated, boast wins over Georgia Southern and Louisiana, have scored at least 28 points in every game but one, have allowed only 20 in their last three and are the highest-ranked Sun Belt team ever.

Appalachian State, nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge, with the highest elevation of any school east of the Mississippi, is a known name nationwide. The Mountaineers became the first modern Division I team to win three-consecutive national titles from 2005-2007, making history and the cover of Sports Illustrated with their famed win over Michigan along the way. Since moving up to the FBS level, Appalachian State has made five bowl games and has won all five. The Mountaineers have won 25 of their last 27 outings going back roughy two years.

Soon, these two contenders, 7-0 and 6-1, will meet on a fitting stage. A spotlight for the Sun Belt, It may be the league's biggest, most high-profile conference game ever. The pairing represents the overall growth of a young league that is clearly on an upward trajectory and has big picture appeal. This weekend's winner will likely advance to, and perhaps host, the Sun Belt Conference Championship Game and will be in position to play in a famed New Year's Six bowl game.

Coastal Carolina has already defeated Kansas two seasons in a row and has a victory over nationally-ranked Louisiana on the resume for this fall. Appalachian State beat both North Carolina and South Carolina a year ago, topped the Ragin' Cajuns for the second straight year in the Sun Belt Conference Championship Game, and was a field goal away from potentially going undefeated. Both the Chanticleers and Mountaineers have often been at their best in recent big games.

More than just a national showcase for Coastal Carolina and Appalachian State, this is a chance to make a national statement as well.

The Chanticleers and Mountaineers are one-two in the Sun Belt in total defense and second and third in total offense. They are a combined 13-1 overall and 9-0 in league play. They have won a combined 12 games in a row. Last season's contest came with 93 total points. This year's matchup comes with regional and national implications. The matchup, speaking of Chauncey and Yosef, even features two of the premier mascots in the game.

Something, Saturday, has to give.

Coastal Carolina vs Appalachian State isn't just a big game in in those markets, it's big game, period. Two uniquely proud programs and similarly talented teams will be on display. The product is one the Sun Belt and all of college football should be excited about.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: / Twitter: @BJBennettSports