BOONE, N.C. — The college football season isn’t over, but Appalachian State already has guaranteed itself of a No. 1 national ranking in one defensive category.
By allowing just eight passing touchdowns during the 2018 season, the Mountaineers will finish in a first-place tie with Mississippi State. The Bulldogs had allowed only five entering their bowl game against Iowa on Tuesday, but the Hawkeyes had three touchdown passes in a 27-22 victory.
App State tied for the lowest mark in the last three FBS seasons, as Northwestern allowed only five in 2015 and eight led the country in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Notre Dame ranked third this season with 10 allowed.
For comparison’s sake, the Mountaineers intercepted 17 passes as a team, led by four apiece from cornerback Tae Hayes, safety Desmond Franklin and safety Josh Thomas.
The eight passing touchdowns allowed, coupled with 12 rushing touchdowns allowed, enabled App State to set a Sun Belt record with only 20 touchdowns allowed by its defense over the course of a full season. The previous low was 23 by North Texas in 2002.
No opponent had more than one passing touchdown against App State in 2018. It didn’t give up any against Charlotte, South Alabama, Arkansas State and Coastal Carolina or allow any in the Sun Belt Championship game victory against Louisiana.