Appalachian State Mountaineers at Michigan Wolverines Preview


The Appalachian State Mountaineers will start their 2014 campaign in a familiar sounding way, going to Ann Arbor, Michigan to play the storied Michigan Wolverines. This is no repeat of 2007, when the App State Mountaineers birthed the Big Ten Network with the most impressive upset in college football history. There is no Jerry Moore or Armanti Edwards. Instead there will be Scott Satterfield and Kameron Bryant. App State is also no longer a lowly FCS team added at the last minute to make schedules work. They are now a FBS member of the Sun Belt Conference.

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Date: August 30

Time: Noon

Venue: Michigan Stadium “The Big House” (Ann Arbor, MI)


Last Time: 2007; Mountaineers 34 Wolverines 32

The only other meeting between Appalachian State and Michigan was the storied upset in 2007. Michigan came into the game ranked #5 in the preseason poll with a number of offensive weapons like quarterback Chad Henne, running back Mike Hart, and left tackle Jake Long. NFL receiver Mario Manningham was also on that team.

It was the Michigan defense that had trouble dealing with the spread offense of defending FCS national champion App State led by quarterback Armanti Edwards. Edwards found receiver Dexter Jackson and other holes in order to take the Mountaineers into the lead by halftime. The back and forth continued in the second half until Michigan finally had a chance to win the game with one final field goal. That field goal was blocked by safety Corey Lynch and the upset sealed.

Opponent: Michigan Wolverines

Fast forward seven years and Michigan is now under Coach Brady Hoke. Like Lloyd Carr in 2007, Hoke is in a ‘prove it’ year at Michigan. That task did not get easier when rival Ohio State lost quarterback Braxton Miller for the season. No doubt Hoke knows that a victory over the Mountaineers might have more healing effects on the psyche of the program than the rankings might indicate.

Apr 5, 2014; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner (98) before the Spring Game at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan’s chief weapon is quarterback Devin Gardner. Gardner was all everything for the Wolverines last year, not always the best thing when one is running a pro-style offense. Gardner threw for almost 3,000 yards and 21 touchdowns last year in the air. His lack of protection caused him to run into the same problems that Philip Rivers ran into in 2012. He sometimes tried to make plays where there were no plays to make.

Gardner was also the leading rusher for Michigan last season with 750 yards and 11 touchdowns. Strange to say, but the less Gardner does, the better Michigan will be later in the season.

Michigan’s defense has recovered from its down period at the end of the RichRod era and is starting to look competent again under defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. Michigan fans are looking forward to the return of middle linebacker Jake Ryan to the mix. Ryan was consistently the best defender for the Wolverines when healthy.

Prediction: 28-10 Wolverines
ONJ Season Record So Far (Just the Wake Forest game): 1-0

Despite Hoke’s late game coaching issues, and despite Michigan giving Akron and Indiana chances late to beat them last year, this game should belong to Michigan. The 2014 Appalachian State Mountaineers do not have the makeup of the 2007 team, just the name. The talent gap should be evident this time. However, the name of App State tells us never to rule anything out.

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