In 2007, Appalachian State went into the Big House and shocked Michigan in the biggest upset in college football history
Even though some teams have formidable opponents this weekend, this particular Saturday is considered to be one of college football’s “cupcake weekends.” You know what I’m talking about: those weekends where major programs take a break from FBS play and pay an FCS school several hundred thousand dollars (or more) to play a game they will most likely lose. All things considered, it is a win-win for both teams.
However, there are occasions where those small schools take the big-time program’s money and then derail its season. I have to imagine the eight FBS programs playing FCS schools this week are all mindful that these types of upsets are happening more frequently. Especially since there have been 10 such victories already this season, including these two that just missed the cut:
Eastern Washington 45, Washington State 42
Sept. 3, 2016 – Pullman, Wash.
At 8-2, the Cougars still control their own destiny in winning the Pac-12 North. If it were not for Eastern Washington, they would have a much stronger case at this point for making the College Football Playoff.
North Dakota State 23, Iowa 21
Sept. 17, 2016 – Iowa City, Iowa
The five-time defending national champion Bison have now won six straight against FBS teams, with their biggest victory coming on a last-second field goal against then-No. 13 Iowa.
Now here are the five biggest FCS over FBS upsets in college football history:
5. The Citadel 10, Arkansas 3
Sept. 5, 1992 – Fayetteville, Ark.
Arkansas expected to begin its first year of SEC play with an easy win over The Citadel. Instead, the Razorbacks found themselves in a scoreless game going into the fourth quarter. Then defensive end Judson Boehmer scooped up a fumble by Arkansas running back E.D. Jackson and ran into the end zone. The Bulldogs then kicked a field goal to ice the game. The loss prompted Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles to fire head coach Jack Crowe.
4. Jacksonville State 49, Ole Miss 48 (2OT)
Sept. 4, 2010 – Oxford, Miss.
The drama going into the game that week was around whether quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who had been dismissed by Oregon, would be approved by the NCAA to play for Ole Miss. That decision came the day before the Jacksonville State game, but it and Masoli’s presence would quickly be overshadowed. The Gamecocks – who were also coached by Jack Crowe – overcame a 31-10 third quarter deficit to send the game into overtime. After the teams traded touchdowns in the first two overtime periods, Crowe decided to go for two. Jacksonville State quarterback Coty Blanchard threw a pass to Calvin Middleton, who leapt into a sea of Rebel defenders to catch it. At the postgame press conference, Crowe choked back tears.
3. Georgia Southern 26, Florida 20
Nov. 23, 2013 – Gainesville, Fla.
Florida had never lost to an FCS team, but was in the midst of a seven-game losing streak. Georgia Southern was 6-4 and playing its last game as an FCS school. The Eagles did not complete a pass, but they made up for it by rushing for 429 yards and Jerick McKinnon scored with about three minutes left to put them ahead 26-20. Georgia Southern missed the extra point, but no matter, as the Eagles stopped Florida on downs to secure the win in the Swamp and guarantee the Gators’ their first losing season since 1979.
2. James Madison 21, Virginia Tech 16
Sept. 11, 2010 – Blacksburg, Va.
The Hokies had lost in heartbreaking fashion to No. 3 Boise State in the final minutes in Landover, Md., just six days earlier so they may have been sleepwalking through this game. Either way, the Dukes beat them in workmanlike fashion, shutting down Virginia Tech’s high-powered attack and keeping them off the field with ball-control offense. The Hokies won the rest of their regular season games and the ACC title to become the only Power Five conference champion to lose to an FCS school.
1. Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32
Sept. 1, 2007 – Ann Arbor, Mich.
The Mountaineers – then in the FCS – kicked a 24-yard field goal with 26 seconds left to take a 34-32 lead over the fifth-ranked Wolverines. Michigan got the ball back and was in position to kick a game-winning field goal thanks to a 46-yard pass from Chad Henne to Mario Manningham. Wolverine kicker Jason Gingell lined up to kick a 37-yard field goal, but Appalachian State’s Corey Lynch blocked it and the Mountaineers scored the greatest upset in college football history. Appalachian State has since moved up to FBS, but the significance of this win at the time is still monumental.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.
(Photos courtesy of Getty Images)