Sports Column

Before the season begins, you are regarded as one of the top five teams in the whole country and many experts pick you to get to the national title game.You have your three star offensive players (QB Chad Henne, RB Mike Hart and OL Jake Long) returning so they could contend for the championship, instead of showing off their talents in the NFL.

And your first game is at home against Appalachian State University, a lower division school on your schedule that is often referred to as a “cupcake opponent” despite winning two consecutive D-1AA titles.

This should be just another stroll in the park, right?

Well, when you schedule a team like that the same week Louisville and Ohio State get to play club football teams (I’m sorry), Cinderella is only a glass slipper and 60 minutes away from pulling off the greatest upset in the history of the sport.

On the first Saturday afternoon of September, the small school from Boone, North Carolina used its mobile Quarterback Armanti Edwards to exploit an inexperienced Michigan defense and defeated the fifth-ranked Wolverines 34-32 in front of 110,000 at the Big House. And, after Michigan completed a long pass play to get into field goal range with only six seconds left, Appalachian State blocked the game-winning field goal attempt. Now that is how you finish off a team.

The whole scenario was unpredictable: Appalachian looked like just as good a team as most Division-I programs; the Michigan defense could not handle the speed of the Mountaineer receivers; and most importantly, the D-1AA team completely outperformed Michigan.

What happens to Michigan now?

They took a complete freefall out of the Top 25, the most spots a team has ever dropped in the rankings. Their season is obviously over, and dreams of a national title or even a Big Ten championship have been thrown out the window.

Goodbye BCS, hello bottom of the cellar.

I feel really bad for senior running back and Heisman trophy candidate Mike Hart, who practically carried Michigan on his back throughout the game with 188 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

While Michigan is continually criticized for its poor showing, it is finally time to show some love for Appalachian State. This team is not just ranked first in the D-1AA polls, but also received votes in the major polls and is only eight spots from the top 25. I think they will be extremely tough to beat in the lower division and have a great chance to three-peat.

How does this win truly change the landscape of college football?

Boise State’s exciting Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma last season and Appalachian State’s upset win both are great examples of why college football needs a playoff system instead of pointless bowl games. The sport has run into problems in past seasons with multiple undefeated teams at season’s end (USC, Oklahoma, Auburn, Utah and Boise State in 2004) and debates about which two of three teams should be playing in the championship game (USC, LSU and Oklahoma in ’03, and Ohio State, Michigan and Florida last season).

An eight- or 16-team playoff would prevent controversy and allow top teams in the smaller conferences, like a Boise State or Hawaii or even Appalachian State, to have the same opportunity as the major conference programs at playing for the national championship.

The game will obviously be replayed over and over again and Appalachian State will become “America’s favorite team.” The same can not be said for Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, who is without question in his final season at that school. Carr has not gotten the job done the past three seasons, and with the way his team played against Appalachian and in a blowout loss to Oregon, Michigan needs to find themselves a new head coach and get rid of their personnel.

Michigan and Notre Dame will both enter Saturday’s meeting at 0-2, marking the first time these historic programs were winless heading into the rivalry game.

Bold Prediction of the Week: Nebraska provides us with another shocker and beats top ranked USC in Lincoln, 27-24.

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