Tuesday, September 04, 2007

You Got No Fear of The Underdog...

...that's why you will not survive!

I've been listening to the song The Underdog off of Spoon's latest album for about 2 months now. During the past 3 days, that lyric has seemed all the more sweet.

For those who may check this blog out on a semi-regular basis (which would also generously describe how often I write on it) that don't already know - I am an alumnus of THE Appalachian State University!

Needless to say, the last few days have been the most enjoyable of my life as a sports fan. There is truly nothing that could compare.

Being a I-AA/FCS fan is a lonely existence. You get strange looks from people when you answer "Appalachian State" to their question "Who do you root for?". The idea of picking your team based on where you went to school seems a foreign concept to them. That all has gone away, if only temporarily, after Saturday's stunning occurrence.

For that day, to anyone who knew me outside of App, I was the person to call. To my friends and acquaintances, I was THE Appalachian guy - and they knew that because I never made excuses for my love of The Mountaineers.

It's one of the feelings people who go to big schools, unless distantly transplanted from their Alma Mater, can't experience. Yet, here I was, only a 4 1/2 hour drive from my school, being bombarded with phone calls and text messages. It felt like a tremendous reward for my loyalty to the Black and Gold.

I can't say much that hasn't already been said from an analysis standpoint, but I will highlight two things:

A) This game was very quickly compared to some of the great upsets of all time - Chaminade over Virginia, US Hockey over the Soviet Union, etc. As mentioned by Kevin Hench of FoxSports, though, the most amazing thing about this upset is that the Mountaineers did it on the road. Most of the "Greatest Upsets Ever" took place at a neutral site, or in a de facto home location, like Lake Placid. That is something truly amazing and unique. This is like Leonidas and his 300 defeating the Persians at Thermopylae!

Although, now that I think about it - Thermopylae is pretty close to Sparta.

B) If you had only heard about this game, you would have assumed that App State must have played the perfect game, a la Villanova vs. Georgetown in the 1985 Final Four.

You would be wrong.

Despite a practically flawless start by Armanti Edwards (he of the now household name), he still finished the game with 2 interceptions, and 1 fumble. The 2nd interception coming when ASU was trailing late - leading most to think this game was over.

The Mountaineers also egregiously missed a chance to make the game 35-20 early in the 3rd Quarter when a wide open Brian Quick, a true freshman WR, dropped a sure TD in the end zone. (Hard to blame a True Frosh in that situation) This forced App to settle for a Field Goal and a 31-20 lead. They would also later miss another field goal that would have made it 34-20 midway through the third.

That miss, ironically, seemed to help seal Michigan's fate as they haplessly botched two 2 pt. conversions later in the game. Quick would also redeem himself later by blocking the first of Michigan's two 4th Quarter FG tries.

We can also forget about safety Corey Lynch leaving Mario Manningham 1-on-1 with Justin Woazeah on the penultimate play of the game - the 46 yard completion that set up Michigan's 2nd blocked FG attempt.

That's because - when the Mountaineers needed a miracle - the man who might one day be Billy Graham's grandson-in-law delivered one.

I, like most App fans, will bask in this for quite a while. Nonetheless, I hope the team is the thinking the same thing I am right now. The shoe is on the other foot this Saturday, and really for the rest of the season. This Saturday, Division II Lenoir-Rhyne comes to town with hopes of taking down a 2-Time National Champion/Media Darling, and having their highlights on ESPN.

If we've learned one thing from this Saturday...it's that anything is possible in college football.

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