Nothing really happens on the first weekend of the college football season. Sure, there are a few good, BCS-significant games (see Cal vs Tennessee or Georgia vs Oklahoma State), but for the most part, it's the big boys getting their jollies against the runts of the litter (see Penn State over Florida International 59-0 and Louisville over Murray State 73-10).
Then this happens. Out of nowhere, the Mountaineers begin their hard charge towards a national championship in 2007 with a win over the No. 5 Michigan Wolverines.
No, I'm not talking about West Virginia, but rather the "other" Mountaineers, from Appalachian State, of the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA).
I'll get the bad stuff out of the way first, because I'd rather discuss the good things. There were certainly a lot of questions about Michigan's defense coming into this season. However, allowing 388 yards of offense (226 passing, 162 rushing) to a second tier school is inexcusable, even if they are that second tier's champion each of the last two years.
UM coach Lloyd Carr was already on the burner because of his three consecutive losses against Ohio State, and this merely provides more fuel to that fire. Carr will now likely have to run the table to have even a shot at the BCS, and will have to beat Ohio State to retain his job (whether that is justified or not).
Michigan's offense played well, racking up almost 500 yards, but they stalled out in the red zone right before halftime and had two field goals blocked, including one that could have won the game with six seconds left.
This is the second year in a row that Michigan has led off the season with a head scratcher, maybe they'll rebound this year as well, maybe they won't, but it is obvious that their offense is the only area that doesn't have problems.
With that out of the way, how about the Appalachian State team? This win is absolutely huge for them. They already entered this season as back-to-back FCS champions, although (much like every other team in the subdivision) they hadn't even come close to winning any games against FBS opponents. Big blowouts at the hands of teams like NC State (who finished 3-9 last year) showed that Appalachian State was a good second-tier team, but a second-tier team nonetheless.
Now, they start the season by being the first FCS team ever (since the distinction between I-A and AA was first made in 1978) to beat an FBS team ranked in the AP poll, and a top five team at that. This is a big win for the program, showing that they continue to make large strides (they finished 6-5 as recently as 2004). There is no doubt that this could give them a huge boost in recruiting ability, and maybe even an opportunity to make the jump up a level if they run the table this season (which shouldn't be hard, since they just won their hardest game).
What makes the win even more impressive is the players who did it. ASU's starting quarterback, Armanti Edwards, was making the first start of his sophomore season, and with today's performance (17-23, 226 yards, 3TD, 2 INT, plus 57 yards and 1 TD rushing) he probably put his name on the 2009 draft radar. He managed 3,300 total yards and completed 61% of his passes last season, and after today's game (a sophomore leading his team to a win on the road against a top 5 I-A team) he'll probably make a national name for himself with a repeat of those numbers.
On top of that, the game winning field goal was kicked by Julian Rauch, who had played in exactly zero collegiate games prior to today. Nailing two of three field goals, including a late game-winner, says a lot about his ability to handle pressure and bodes well for his future.
Appalachian State gets to take a crack at much lesser opponents heading forward, including Lenoir-Rhyne College, Elon, Wofford, and Gardner-Webb — while Michigan will try and figure out the kinks real fast so they don't get embarrassed by Oregon, Notre Dame, or Penn State.
Don't ever let me say the opening weekend of the season is boring.Powered by Sidelines