Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Appalachian State Proves They're No Joke

The Frat Boy News Daily Sports Page

College Football (compiled by IHT)

There used to be a running joke in North Carolina that the best college football team in the state couldn't be found at any of those esteemed campuses with basketball traditions in Chapel Hill, Durham or Raleigh. You had to go to a small resort town in the Blue Ridge Mountains named after Daniel Boone to find North Carolina's top program.

But as Appalachian State proved Saturday, when it pulled off one of the biggest upsets in college football history with a 34-32 victory at fifth-ranked Michigan, it isn't a joke anymore. The Mountaineers, a mostly unknown collection of players who would probably never show up on Michigan's recruiting radar, showed up at Michigan Stadium and proved they belonged.

"Hopefully the whole world knows," quarterback Armanti Edwards said at a news conference at Appalachian State.

It was a stunning upset by any measure, like a second-division soccer team beating Manchester United. But, oddly, it was not as great a shock to those who have followed Appalachian State. As Michigan's powerhouse of a team rolled through college football's Division I-A, the Mountaineers were winning the last two championships in Division I-AA, the equivalent of a grouping of top minor leagues.

The Mountaineers were not the creampuff opponent that Michigan fans might have envisioned, even if they do play in the Southern Conference against opponents like Wofford and Elon. In fact, a university official said the team has had difficulty scheduling nonconference teams in its own state, like North Carolina and Wake Forest, which apparently want no part of Appalachian State. They know better.

Appalachian State is 27-4 since the start of the 2005 season and has a 15-game winning streak. Jerry Moore, in his 19th season at Appalachian State, was named coach of the year the past two seasons by the American Football Coaches Association.

"I feel like everybody here who starts or even backs up can play for a Division I school anywhere in the country," receiver Dexter Jackson, who had three catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns, said during a news conference at Appalachian State on Sunday. "Coach Moore told us to play like we had a chip on our shoulder and show these boys."

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