In 2007, the fifth-ranked Michigan Wolverines opened their season against a formidably easy opponent, FCS team Appalachian State. What happened next was something that no one will ever forget.
The highly ranked Wolverines lost at the Big House to Appalachian State 34-32. Michigan is the first ranked team to lose to an FCS team and due to the huge loss, they dropped out of the top 25 all together. It is still arguably the worst lost in Michigan football history.
Michigan lost that game because of two reasons. The first reason being three and outs. Every punt that Michigan had that game, all three of them, were three and outs. If they could have gotten a first down on those three possessions, they could have cut the Mountaineers time of possession and instantly changed the game. The Mountaineers ended up with 31:12 minutes of possession and Michigan ended with 28:48.
The second reason they lost was due to their two failed fourth down conversions. The first one was right before halftime and was at the Mountaineer 35 yard line. Their failed conversion led to a Mountaineer field goal with 23 seconds left. The second failed conversion was at the Mountaineer 33 yard line in the fourth quarter. If they had either elected to go for field goals or make the conversions and end up getting touchdowns, things could have been so much different that day in Ann Arbor.
This upcoming season, the Wolverines start off the season against Appalachian State, again, at the Big House. Although the Mountaineers are now apart of the FBS, specifically in the Sunbelt Conference, this is still one of the most anticipated rematches that people have been waiting for since they announced the rematch in 2011. This could easily be one of the biggest games of the year for the team. Michigan needs to start off the year strong against the non-conference opponents. Last year, they struggled hard against teams that many of the experts, and myself, thought should have been easy wins but in the end were very far from easy. Only beating Akron, a MAC school, by 4 points and beating Connecticut by 3 are not impressive wins for the history that Michigan has had.
Michigan has to do what they failed to do the first time they played this team. They need to win the time game. Even though Appalachian State only had three more minutes of offense than Michigan, three minutes can mean another scoring opportunity. Three minutes can determine the outcome of any game. If Michigan can do this, than this upcoming rematch will be an easy win.
The over/under for this game will probably be around 20 for Michigan to win and honestly, they need to win by more than that. They need to have a blowout victory and start off the year the same way they did last season against Central Michigan. This team needs confidence. With all the talent that they have, they need to have some confidence, which is something that they didn’t really have last season.
If Michigan starts off the season playing Appalachian State the way they did against Akron or Uconn, not only will the team be in trouble, but so will Coach Hoke’s job. If Michigan struggles against Appalachian State, don’t expect them to go to South Bend the following week and beat the Irish. This is why this is perhaps the biggest game of the year for the Wolverines this upcoming football season. Starting the season strong against non-conference teams is vital to the Wolverines having a successful turnaround season.