[Note: I had this big multi-category weekend preview post planned, and then I woke up Thursday with the dreaded "Flu-like symptoms." Apologies for any fever-induced factual errors.]
Growing up in Oklahoma may not have made me a cowgirl, but it did make me a huge college football fan. Recent thefts of NBA franchises aside, college football is professional sports in Oklahoma (insert NCAA violations jokes here; it’s okay, I can take it). As long as it’s not my Sooners, however, nothing delights me more than a big time football program losing to a tiny I-AA (or FCS, as it’s now known) school. You know, like this:
This couldn’t possibly happen again, right? Surely, all of the Top 25 teams playing FCS (nope, still not used to it) will have spent the last week being warned by their coaches about underestimating their opponent, right?
Let’s examine the possibilities:
University of Tennessee-Chattanooga
Playing: No. 4 Oklahoma
Pros: Oklahoma isn’t always sharp in early home games (see: TCU, 2005). Last year, Chattanooga played a close game against Arkansas, trailing by single digits entering the fourth quarter and holding McFadden to his lowest rushing total of the season.
Cons: OU is Chattanooga’s first FBS (I-A) top 5 opponnent since 1951; Chattanooga has gone 0-10 against all FBS opponnents over the last decade. Also, in the “weirdly specific stat” category, Chattanooga hasn’t won a game west of the Mississippi since beating Boise State in 1992.
Upset Potential: As a Sooner fan, I don’t want to jinx it, but … I think this cupcake will remain delicious and easily digestible.
Playing: No. 2 Ohio State
Pros: Has played Ohio State before, including last year, when they held OSU to 147 yards rushing. OSU coach Jim Tressel moved to his current job after 15 years at Youngstown State; they might have some additional insider knowledge (though I suppose that could work both ways).
Cons: Did not score a touchdown in last year’s 38-6 loss. Last win against an FBS (I HATE THESE ACRONYMS!) school was in 2000. Against Kent State.
Verdict: The familiarity might help returning Penguins feel less intimidated by the Buckeyes (there’s a mental image for you), but Ohio State is no Kent State even on a bad day.
Playing: No. 1 Georgia
Pros: Ranked 17th in the FCS, has played Georgia four times previously.
Cons: Last game against the Bulldogs was in 2004, before the current coaching staff and most of the young Eagles team (22 true and redshirt freshmen). Has never faced a No.1 ranked FBS team before.
Verdict: No. Not happening. Georgia may not win all their games, but they aren’t losing this one.
As an interesting note, both Georgia Southern and Chattanooga play in the Southern Conference with Appalachian State; in fact the Eagles and Mocs play each other at Chattanooga on Oct. 4. At least one of them will have to win that game.
As for Appalachian State itself, the Mountaineers play at Louisiana State this weekend. Can they repeat last year’s victory now that their name strikes fear into the heart of FBS head coaches everywhere? Les Miles haters everywhere (many of them from my own family) are hoping they can.