Certainly, Appalachian State has played on bigger stages, in bigger games. The triumph over No. 5 Michigan in the Big House will go down in college football history as one of its biggest upsets.
The Mountaineers nearly pulled off another major upset on the road in the 2016 season opener at Tennessee, taking to overtime the No. 9 Vols before falling, 20-13.
But Saturday’s game with Miami is perhaps even bigger than those two games; and it hasn’t been played yet. What makes this game different? It’s going to be played on Appalachian State’s home field.
History will be made when the Canes visit The Rock (a.k.a. Kidd Brewer Stadium) at noon Eastern, a game televised nationally by ESPN. Miami will be the first Power Five opponent to ever visit The Rock.
It’s going to be the biggest sporting event ever played in Boone, N.C. An expected crowd of 35,000 is anticipated in the 23,150-seat Kidd-Brewer Stadium. Temporary bleachers and a hillside general admission have been added to accommodate the overflow.
The local attendance record of 31,528 will be broken for this, the biggest home game in Appalachian State history. The game sold out in hours when the remaining single-game tickets went on sale this summer.
It’ll be a big challenge for the Appalachian State football team and head coach Scott Satterfield but one they gladly accept, as reported by the Winston-Salem Journal.
“We’ve got that reputation of we’re not scared, we’ll play whoever, but that’s the way this program’s always been — we play with a chip on our shoulder,” Satterfield said. “We are not scared to play anybody; we want to compete with everybody we play against.”
But to take the program to the next level, Satterfield said he knows the Mountaineers must win games like one on Saturday. Between shocking Michigan and nearly pulling off another big upset of Tennessee in the 2016 season opener, the Mountaineers lost all six games against Power Five team by a minimum of four touchdowns.
“At some point in time, we have to get over the hump and win some of those games,” Satterfield said. “We won the ’07 (game), but it’s been a while since we’ve beaten a ‘Power Five’ like that. It’s a great challenge for us, but one that we welcome.”
Saturday’s game is critical to the Mountaineers program if it intends on getting over that hump. Appalachian State received votes after last week’s win over Old Dominion and are looking to crack the Top 25 for the first time in program history. Their 11 wins last season broke the FBS record for wins by a team in its first season of full-fledged FBS/1-A eligibility. Marshall held the old record with 10 wins in 1997.
Miami and head coach Mark Richt are well aware of what the Mountaineers are capable of as a football team and how hungry they are to make a statement on Saturday. One thing the Canes won’t do is take Appalachian State lightly.
“How can you take this team lightly?” Richt said. “How can anybody who knows football take this team lightly? We don’t even have to say that to our guys. They’ve seen the film. They watched them play against Tennessee. They know.”
Appalachian State is 77-15 in their last 92 home games.
Miami doesn’t want to become another victim of the Mountaineers.