Shortly after Marshall delivered the first shocking result of the 2022 college football season, Appalachian State followed suit with its own massive upset.
The 19-point underdog Mountaineers stunned No. 6 Texas A&M, 17-14, in an atrocious game for the Aggies. App State was by far the better team throughout the course of the game as the Aggies struggled to get any type of offense going when it had the ball.
And App State made sure Texas A&M had as little of the ball as possible. The Mountaineers held onto the ball for over 40 minutes and forced the Aggies to take advantage of their limited chances with the ball.
"That was part of our keys to victory we had to make sure we got them off the field on third down on defense, we had to run the ball on offense and our kids believed," App State coach Shawn Clark said after the game.
And A&M didn’t take advantage of its chances with the ball. The Aggies had just 186 total yards of offense and threw for just 97 yards. A&M was also 2-of-8 on third down while Appalachian State faced 20 third downs itself. The Mountaineers had more third-down conversions (nine) than A&M had attempts.
The Aggies went nearly 16 minutes between offensive plays in the second half. App State took a 14-7 lead after a TD drive that took over six minutes off the clock. A&M’s Devon Achane then returned the kick for a game-tying TD and the Mountaineers followed that up with a go-ahead drive that took over nine minutes and culminated with what turned out to be a game-winning field goal by Michael Hughes.
After last running a play with 9:03 left in the third quarter, A&M didn’t get the ball back until there was 8:05 left in the game. And at that point the Aggies had run just two plays in App State territory.
A flimsy roughing the passer call gave A&M life on the drive and the Aggies crossed midfield quickly after the penalty. But the drive stalled at the App State 30 with less than four minutes to go and Caden Davis’ game-tying 47-yard field goal attempt didn’t come anywhere close to the uprights.
Appalachian State’s Camerun Peoples then closed the game out with 2:12 to go on a critical third-down conversion and gained 48 yards on his next carry to end any chance of an A&M comeback.
A huge loss for A&M
The Aggies entered the 2022 season as the prime contenders to Alabama in the SEC West after being the only team to beat the Tide in the regular season. It’s hard to see how A&M can hang with Alabama now, especially if it doesn’t get better quarterback play.
Haynes King was again unimpressive. He was 13-of-20 passing for 97 yards. The Aggies didn’t have a pass play of over 20 yards.
King started the 2021 season as the starter but was injured in the team’s second game of the season. After Zach Calzada transferred to Auburn and Max Johnson transferred from LSU to A&M, King beat out Johnson for the starting job in 2022.
Unless coach Jimbo Fisher wants to make a change at quarterback after just two games, King will get another chance in Week 3 against his toughest opponent yet in No. 15 Miami. The Hurricanes come to College Station in a game that suddenly looks much more like a toss-up than it did on Friday.
A&M’s inability to stop App State from grinding out the clock is also a concern. The Mountaineers converted three of their five fourth-down attempts too. If you had no idea which team was which entering the game, you’d have been convinced that App State was the ranked team and A&M was the underdog.
That’s a big deal for a team like A&M that’s used its vast financial resources through Jimbo Fisher’s massive contract and big NIL deals for players in an attempt to contend in the SEC West. Sure, upsets happen, but top-10 teams shouldn’t be losing to Group of Five programs at home. Even to teams as good as Appalachian State.
A bounce back for App State
The victory comes 15 years and nine days after App State pulled off one of the biggest upsets of all-time when it beat No. 5 Michigan, 34-32, in 2007. And the win is a huge rebound for the Mountaineers after they came so close to beating North Carolina at home in Week 1. The Tar Heels won that game, 63-61, after App State missed on a go-ahead two-point conversion late in the game and scored 40 points in the fourth quarter.
Sun Belt play begins next week for the Mountaineers with a home game against Troy. After winning 10 or more games in five of the last eight seasons, App State should be near the top of a feisty Sun Belt again in 2022.