Wednesday, September 12, 2007

First, you've gotta believe

Appalachian State set the bar high for the little guy when it upset Michigan in The Big House two weeks ago. It also gave all Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) hope when they play up against the Bowl Subdivision teams.

Jacksonville State has had some --- not much --- success playing up. But to have any chance at all, the Gamecocks have to think big, just like App State did when it went to play the Wolverines.

"You’ve got to believe you’re going to win," JSU head coach Jack Crowe said. "You’ve got to be prepared to win. Not prepared to play good. Not prepared to hope and wish. But you’ve got to have a plan to win that is a sound plan that includes all the fundamentals of the game … When you believe you can win and the other team gives you opportunities, it won’t be the last time (it happens)."

For the record, the Gamecocks are 3-9 against the upper division. They have beaten two FBS-level teams in the Crowe era --- UL-Lafayette (28-14) and Arkansas State (31-28) --- but they’ve lost their last four, including one-sided affairs with Kansas (41-6) and Mississippi State (twice, 51-13 and 35-3).

In these matchups, the smaller school has to take advantage of every chance it gets to steal momentum. That’s what App State did against Michigan. Because you know when the big school gets the lead, they’ll keep piling it on.

The OVC is full of cases in point. Within the league already this year, Louisville buried Murray State (72-10), Cincinnati crushed Southeast Missouri (59-3), Kentucky killed Eastern Kentucky (50-10) and Purdue pummeled Eastern Illinois (52-6).

"There does have to be, in a game like this, a certain degree of opportunity --- your preparation, then opportunity," Crowe said. "That’s an old-timey way of saying luck, but luck’s when preparation meets opportunity. I guess you do have to be lucky, but it’s not that much opportunity that has to be realized, to be honest with you.

"That left wing at Michigan (on the kicking team) is not going to step out ever again (after getting two kicks blocked). The Citadel deal (when Crowe lost at Arkansas), they never crossed our 50; the ball hits the ground, hits (his player) in the chest going full speed by accident, (otherwise) they don’t score in a month of Sundays. Those are what you call opportunities, and there are opportunities in every ball game."

The Gamecocks had one last year at Mississippi State when linebacker Drew Robinson got hit in the chest with a pass, but couldn’t hold on. He held on twice last week against Chattanooga, and turned one of them into a touchdown.

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