On Sept. 1, 2007, Appalachian State established itself not only as an FCS power, but a team that could hang with anyone in college football. The Mountaineers would go on to win the FCS title that year -- their third-straight crown -- but beating No. 5 Michigan in the Big House put on the program on the map.
Nine years later, Scott Satterfield, a former ASU quarterback and an assistant on Jerry Moore's staff for that legendary upset, led the Mountaineers into another modern day coliseum on opening weekend to take on a top-10 team. Tennessee was pushed to the limit in its season opener, trailing for nearly 45 minutes of game time before finally pulling even with Appalachian State on a 67-yard Josh Malone touchdown and forcing overtime.
The Mountaineers overpowered the Vols' offensive line all night, scored a touchdown off of a muffed punt and prevented one with a red zone interception. They also got a tremendous performance from All-Sun Belt running back Marcus Cox. Appalachian State won 11 games last year and is a favorite to win its league, but no one expected this Tennessee team to struggle on Thursday night.
This Tennessee team, which was ranked No. 9 in the polls and picked to win the SEC East, was ineffective on offense and presented almost no downfield threat with its passing game. Josh Dobbs was far from the Heisman dark horse that some were hoping to see, and the aforementioned 67-yard touchdown was as much a credit to Malone's physicality as Dobbs' arm.
Luckily the power run game showed up in overtime to help the Vols avoid the same fate that bit Michigan nine years ago. When the field got smaller, the Vols got stronger but they still needed a bit of luck to secure the victory.
On third down in the first possession of overtime, Jalen Hurd provided the game-winning touchdown play by recovering Josh Dobbs' fumble into the end zone.
Concern moving forward for Tennessee
Tennessee didn't play well.
The Vols were sloppy early, lost composure when things didn't go their way and needed the oddest of circumstances to find the end zone. How is that offensive front going to play against Virginia Tech at Bristol next Saturday?
Butch Jones hopes that this game helps his team improve. After the game, he was focusing on the old sports adage that good teams "find ways to win."
"Never going to apologize for a victory," Butch Jones told SEC Network after the game. "That's a very good football team that we played and I'm hoping that this will compel us to grow up a little bit as we continue to move forward."
Excitement for Appalachian State (and concern for Miami)
Scott Satterfield leaves Knoxville knowing that he not only has one of the best teams in the Sun Belt, but one of the most competitive teams in the country. Tennessee's self-inflicted wounds played a big role in this game being close, but the Mountaineers ability to execute their gameplan up front shows they can stand with anyone at the FBS level.
That includes Miami, which visits Boone on Sept. 17. The Rock will be rocking, and the team earned confidence that it needs to be a winner in these games against power conference opponents.