Doc Five: College football’s best Cinderella stories – No. 2, Appalachian State wins at the Big House

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.



Technically, Appalachian State over Michigan wasn't even the biggest upset of the 2007 college football season.

The Mountaineers were unofficially 33-point underdogs, a number that comes from (via Las Vegas sports books generally don't post lines on FBS vs. FCS games. Later that season, Stanford won at USC as 41-point underdogs. That's the largest underdog, by known point spread history, to win a college football game outright.

That hardly matters. Appalachian State is still the most widely remembered and mythologized upset of the last 30 years in college football. The 1983 N.C. State team was only a 7.5- or 8.5-point underdog to Houston. Technically, if Oregon beats Louisville this week in the NCAA tournament it would be a bigger upset. Nobody would make documentaries about an Oregon Sweet 16 win over Louisville in 30 years.

So no offense to Stanford, whose upset was tremendous (and a sign of things to come). But say the name Appalachian State to a college football fan years from now, and odds are they'll remember that 2007 win at Michigan.

What Appalachian State did on Sept. 1 that year had never been seen before. A FCS team had never beaten a ranked FBS team. Not only that, but Michigan wasn't a team barely in the poll. The Wolverines were No. 5.

The next week they were out of the poll entirely, the biggest drop in poll history.

The legend has grown over the years. Appalachian State used just 27 players in the game, or probably the amount of former high school stars on Michigan's bench who never saw any action that afternoon. The Mountaineers almost blew that game by its clock management. It kicked the go-ahead field goal but left 26 seconds on the clock, giving Michigan enough time to drive downfield and try a field goal for the win as people scrambled to find the Big Ten Network on their televisions (it was the first game broadcast by the network). Corey Lynch, who has carved out a solid career as a NFL safety, saved the day for the Mountaineers by blocking the field goal, leading to an all-time great radio call:

Appalachian State was, and is, a strong FCS program. The win at Mchigan came during a run of three straight FCS titles. Appalachian State just announced this week it will join the FBS. Did the win over Michigan lead to that invitation? That afternoon, and the enduring name recognition that comes from it, surely couldn't have hurt.

Appalachian State is going to play at Michigan in the 2014 season opener. It's surprising the Wolverines would schedule that game, considering the nostalgia that week won't be very enjoyable for Michigan. No matter what happens in that game in 2014, it won't change the legacy of the 2007 game. Like we'll always remember the 2013 NCAA tournament when Florida Gulf Coast is brought up from now on, we'll remember Appalachian State for that great win at Michigan.

James Madison did the same trick and beat ranked Virginia Tech in 2010, and every year FCS teams get their shot at pulling a major FBS upset, but it will be hard to top Appalachian State's upset. There was something special about it.

Previously on the Doc Five:
No. 5: Utah over Alabama
No. 4: Wisconsin, Northwestern crash Rose Bowl
No. 3: Johnny Manziel wins the Heisman

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