This lazy angle is brought out whenever Appalachian State plays on television, or whenever there’s a big upset brewing: “Hey, let’s show that time in 2007 when App State beat Michigan in Ann Arbor.” Yeah, yeah, people who follow college football know all about it. It was history-making. It was transformative for the App State program.
It was also 12 years ago. It’s time to Let. It. Go.
Because the Mountaineers who defeated South Carolina in Columbia 20-15 on Saturday night were in grade school — maybe middle school — when that game kicked off the 2007 season. Those kids now form the heart of a legitimate FBS program, which is perhaps the best candidate to represent the Group of 5 in a New Year’s Day 6 bowl this season.
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They’re making their own history after a second victory over a Power 5 program this year and the third for the program all time. The Mountaineers won at North Carolina in September.
App State (8-1) went into Williams-Brice Stadium and manhandled the Gamecocks (4-6) most of the night, in particular its defensive line against South Carolina’s offensive line. ASU held the Gamecocks to 21 net yards rushing, sacked freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski three times and forced him into a lot of bad throws. Nicholas Ross’ pick-six on a tipped ball gave the Mountaineers the lead for good in the first half.
The defense made one final stop to end the game, with the help of an errant Hilinski throw, after South Carolina had a first-and-goal at the Mountaineers’ 8.
Since moving up to FBS from the Southern Conference in 2014, Appalachian State is 56-17. It will play in a fifth consecutive bowl game and is in line for a fourth season of 10 or more wins. It’s also poised to win at least a share of the Sun Belt Conference for a fourth consecutive time.
In other words, this was not your ordinary team going on the road for an early November nonconference game.
The Mountaineers’ main competition for a New Year’s Day 6 game looks to be Boise State, Cincinnati, Louisiana Tech, San Diego State and SMU. The main knock on App State is that it lost to 5-4 Georgia Southern at home. On the other hand, the argument can be made that the Mountaineers, with wins at North Carolina and South Carolina, are better qualified than the Broncos and the others to play a Michigan in December or January.
Should App State make a New Year’s bowl, it will be an accomplishment worthy of celebration — one where fans won’t need to be reminded of what happened at Michigan all those years ago.