David Winning Not Such Big News Any More

Lyn Scarbrough

September 07, 2021 at 1:52 pm.

A lot has changed since the first weekend of September, 2007.

Things are happening now in this country and around the world that we would not have thought possible back in 2007. Unexpected things, illogical things, things that don’t make common sense.

College football is a prime example.

Back then, the Appalachian States of the college football world just didn’t beat the Michigan Wolverines of the college football world regardless of where they played, especially in the Big House in Ann Arbor.

So, when that happened the first weekend of September 14 years ago, it was big news. Shocking news. “Did I really hear that score correctly” news!

App State, the Mountaineers of the Sun Belt Conference, defeated Michigan of the Big Ten, 34-32. At that time, Michigan was still Michigan and was nationally ranked. Appalachian State was, well, App State. The win immediately became one of the biggest upsets in college football history.

David had beaten Goliath.

Michigan with all of the facilities and weapons and history. Appalachian with the little guys, some slingshots and stones.

When the final seconds ticked off the scoreboard clock, it was David, the Mountaineer, who was left standing.

Fast forward 14 years to the first weekend of September, 2021. Forget all this Week Zero nonsense. This was the first real weekend of college football after the long COVID-19 nightmare that generated a season full of inequity and asterisks.

Almost everybody was excited and glad that a real college football season was getting underway. After the results of the first weekend’s games, not everybody was still quite so excited.

Among those not excited … Washington, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Vanderbilt, Duke,  California and Washington State from the Power 5, plus Tulsa and Colorado State from the Group of 5. Those were the Goliaths in their games that were downed by the stone this past weekend.

Power 5 teams Oklahoma, Oregon and Mississippi State could have, maybe should have, been added to that list.

And that’s not mentioning teams that used to be perennially among the nation’s elite … Nebraska, Florida State, Tennessee and others … who weren’t even in the preseason Top 25 this year and haven’t been championship contenders in a long, long time.

Here’s a look at the David over Goliath games from this past weekend:

** Montana 13, Washington 7 – Nationally ranked Washington scored less than five minutes into the game against FCS Big Sky member Montana. The Huskies never scored again. The Grizzlies held Washington, which returned all five offensive line starters, to just 65 rushing yards. It was the first time in five seasons for an FCS team to beat a ranked FBS team. Next for Washington – It plays at Michigan on Saturday.

** Northern Illinois 22, Georgia Tech 21 – Georgia Tech, playing at Atlanta’s Grant Field, was a 19-point favorite over Northern Illinois of the Group of 5 Mid-American Conference. The betting line made no difference. The Huskies completed a two-point conversion pass with under a minute remaining to win, 22-21. The decision to go for two was easy. “We came here to win and we expected to win and that’s what we got done,” said Northern Illinois head coach Thomas Hammock.

** UTSA 37, Illinois 30 – A week ago, Illinois knocked off Nebraska in the nation’s biggest game and new head coach Bret Bielema was the toast of the town. On Saturday, his team was just toast. UTSA, which had never before played a Big Ten team, never trailed in the game. The Roadrunners top running back Sincere McCormick (one of my favorite names in college football) ran for 117 yards and quarterback Frank Harris threw for 280. Next for Illinois – It plays at Virginia on Saturday.

** East Tennessee 23, Vanderbilt 3 – Vanderbilt led 3-0 over FCS East Tennessee State. After seeing Saturday’s performance, you have to wonder if it will lead again in any other game. The Commodores were the first SEC team to lose to an FCS team since South Carolina lost to The Citadel in November, 2015. Vandy has now lost 11 consecutive games. The most recent win … against East Tennessee in November, 2019. Next for Vanderbilt – It plays at Colorado State on Saturday.

**South Dakota State 42, Colorado State 23 – Speaking of the Rams, that game in Fort Collins will pair two FBS teams that lost to FCS teams on Saturday. Led by quarterback Chris Oladokun (a transfer from Samford and USF), who threw two touchdown passes and ran for another, the Jackrabbits led 35-10 after three quarters and cruised.

** Charlotte 31, Duke 28 – Last season, Charlotte had nine games cancelled due to COVID-19. Last Saturday, it got it first win ever over a Power 5 team. Quarterback Chris Reynolds ran for one score and threw for three others, including an 11-yarder with 33 seconds remaining to seal the win. Blue Devils running back Mateo Durant rushed for 255 yards and three scores … but it wasn’t enough.

** Nevada 22, California 17 – Playing at home, the Golden Bears led Group of 5 member Nevada, 14-0, after one quarter. They trailed 22-14 after three. Wolf Pack quarterback Carson Strong threw for 312 yards and the team outgained Cal by almost 50 yards. Next for California – It plays at TCU on Saturday.

** Utah State 26, Washington State 23 – It was the FCS Mountain West on the road defeating the FBS Pac-12 again! Utah State had 25 first downs, outgained Washington State by over 80 yards and outscored the Cougars, 15-3, in the fourth quarter to win in Pullman.

** UC Davis 19, Tulsa 17 – UC Davis of the FCS Big Sky football conference goes by the nickname Aggies, but its mascot is Gunrock the Mustang. I have no idea how that works, but until this week, I didn’t even knew it had a football team. Most fans of Tulsa of the highly-regarded American Athletic Conference, which calls itself the Power 6 league, probably didn’t know it either … but they do now! Aggie quarterback Hunter Rodrigues threw for 311 yards and a touchdown and placekicker Isaiah Gomez kicked four field goals to defeat the Golden Hurricane (and its mascot Captain Cane), 19-17, scoring six unanswered points in the final quarter. Next for Tulsa – It plays at Oklahoma State.

And, the Goliaths that barely survived:

** Oklahoma 40, Tulane 35 – The No. 2 Sooners held on the defeat vagabond Tulane which had moved around the Southeast during the week due to Hurricane Ida. The Green Wave outscored Oklahoma in the second half, 21-3.

** Oregon 31, Fresno State 24 – Oregon, the prohibitive favorite to win the Pac-12 title, needed a touchdown run by quarterback Anthony Brown on fourth-and-2 with under three minutes in the game to pull out the win. Bulldog quarterback Jake Haener passed for 285 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score. After the Ducks led 21-6 in the second quarter, they trailed 24-21 late in the game before Brown’s heroics. Next for Oregon – It plays at Ohio State.

** Mississippi State 35, Louisiana Tech 34 – In this battle of Bulldogs, the ones visiting from Louisiana were every bit up to the task. After Mississippi State took a 14-0 lead, they were outscored 31-0 by the Group of 5 visitor from Conference USA. Despite being a 23-point favorite at kickoff (the line opened around 27 points), MSU lost four turnovers, had almost 100 penalty yards and held on to win only by blocking the potentially winning field goal attempt as time expired. Next for Mississippi State – It plays North Carolina State, winner over South Florida, 45-0.

For sure, it’s not 2007 anymore.

It’s hard to explain some things that are happening these days. We have the App States more often, and you have to wonder how many fans have really noticed.

But, Goliaths of college football, it would be smart for you to take notice. More and more Davids are confidently gathering stones.