2007. Opening Day. Ann Arbor, Michigan. FCS member and largely unheard of against the fifth ranked powerhouse Wolverines. The game began with hope and anticipation for a championship season for Michigan and ended with the biggest upset in college football history. That game changed the trajectory of both programs, mostly for the Mountaineers.
Fast forward. 2014. Opening Day. Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Wolverines propose a rematch and App State accepts – a PR move for the home team, and a money maker for the visitors. While few expected App State to provide the amount of terror that it did seven years prior, it’s difficult to eradicate the memory of a day that transformed the landscape of college sports. With the tremendous growth in talent nation wide, this game reminded all fans that upsets are always a possibility and any team is susceptible.
Even though Michigan was expected to win the 2014 version convincingly, the residue that the rematch kicked up clearly had some folks apprehensive to automatically carve a notch in the win column. However, any lingering concerns didn’t stop the atmosphere in Ann Arbor from being electric. The band’s emergence from Keeler Hall and subsequent march toward Michigan Stadium grabbed the attention of tailgaters and passers-by as crowds swelled to catch a glimpse. The sound of “Hail to the Victors” and “Let’s Go Blue” seemed to turn the attention away from that horrific memory and more towards the hope and excitement that is ushered in with a new season. “Football season is finally here,” one fan uttered with an exasperation of relief. It was, and it would only be moments after the traditional entrance of Michigan’s football team underneath the “Let’s Go Blue” sign that the Wolverines would find the endzone. Michigan continued to pile on the points all afternoon squelching any last wisps of anxiety floating amongst the 106,000+ in attendance.
The game was an utter blow out and as I sat among the Appalachian State contingent, I couldn’t help but get the sense that they were proud of their team for accepting this rematch. After all, there was much to be proud of for the Mountaineers as this game marked their first as an official FBS member. Even though Michigan looked astounding in the 52-14 victory, the fans from Boone, North Carolina know that the 2007 rendition will never be forgotten as it permanently vaulted Appalachian State into college football’s national attention.