NCAA Football: Appalachian State at Wyoming

Miami (Ohio) and Appalachian State will meet for the first time on the gridiron Saturday, which sparks great intrigue for the Cure Bowl as two conference championship finalists square off in Orlando. 

Of the two, Miami was the one to claim a conference title earlier this month. A great effort from the always-stout RedHawks defense and some huge special teams plays highlighted a 23-13 win against Toledo in the MAC Championship Game. It was the 17th MAC championship in Miami program history and second for coach Chuck Martin. 

App State was less fortunate, falling to Troy in the Sun Belt Championship Game after a furious late-season charge into the conference title picture. The Mountaineers closed the regular season on a five-game winning streak, including an overtime win on the road at James Madison, to claim the Sun Belt East title. 

This highly anticipated matchup comes with a focus of the strength-on-strength aspect when App State's offense will face Miami's defense. Mountaineers quarterback Joey Aguilar has thrown for a school-record 3,545 yards this season, which ranks ninth in the FBS. He's also thrown a program-record 33 touchdowns, which is tied with Michael Penix Jr. for third nationally. Miami's defense, on the other hand, ranked first in the MAC in scoring (10.8), total defense (272.5) and sacks (27) and produced the conference's Defensive Player of the Year in linebacker Matt Salopek

How to watch Cure Bowl live

Date: Saturday, Dec. 16 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: FBC Mortgage Stadium -- Orlando, Florida
TV: ABC | Live stream: Fubo (Try for free)
For a limited time, new subscribers can save $20 on Fubo's Pro, Elite and Premier plans.

Miami (Ohio) vs. Appalachian State: Need to know

App State's bowl success since jumping from FCS: Appalachian State won its first six bowl games as an FBS program, making the postseason every year it was eligible from 2015-21. The Mountaineers have won the Cameilia Bowl twice (2015-16), the New Orleans Bowl twice (2018-19) with victories in the Dollar General Bowl (2017) and Myrtle Beach Bowl (2020) as well. It took until 2021 for App State to suffer its first bowl loss as an FBS program, falling to Western Kentucky in the Boca Raton Bowl. This will be the Mountaineers first chance to get back to their winning ways after the 2022 squad went 6-6 but was not selected for a bowl game. 

Miami (Ohio) reaching deep on the depth chart at quarterback: Starter Brett Gabbert suffered a season-ending injury during the season. Then backup Avion Smith, who helped lead the team to a MAC championship, entered the transfer portal and won't play in the bowl game. So who plays quarterback for the RedHawks? Miami will turn to Henry Hesson and Maddox Kopp for the quarterbacking duties. Hesson has completed two passes for 17 yards across three career games while Kopp is on his third school after starting his career at Houston and transferring to Colorado (one start, one touchdown) before arriving at Miami in 2023. 

A season for the record books at Miami: Last time Miami won 11 games in a season, Ben Roethlisberger was taking snaps for the RedHawks during a 13-1 campaign in 2003. A win would give Miami 12 victories on the season, the second-most in program history. Also, Martin has 56 wins at Miami, second-most in program history and only three behind Randy Walker (59). 

Cure Bowl prediction, picks

Miami's defense has been elite all season, but I don't know how many offenses it's faced that have the high-end potential of Appalachian State. The 450.0 yards per game the Mountaineers averaged this year would be best in the MAC, as would App State's passing averages on the season. If the RedHawks can keep it low-scoring, they've got a chance to win it outright. Ultimately, I like App State to have more firepower when it counts the most. Pick: App State -6.5 

Which college football picks can you make with confidence during bowl season? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned well over $2,000 in profit over the past seven-plus seasons -- and find out.