Sept. 2, 2009

By Adam Caparell

You can probably file this one under unofficial.

This weekend will see what’s believed to be a record number of FBS schools playing host to FCS schools as the college football season kicks off Thursday night.

Thirty-eight games over the course of three days will feature an inter-divisional matchup with maybe the most notable being Appalachian State visiting East Carolina Saturday at noon.

And with Appalachian State’s monumental upset of Michigan still weighing on the minds of many in college football, ECU head coach Skip Holtz doesn’t have to worry about his team not taking the Mountaineers seriously.

"They have enough accolades behind their name that we're not going to have to sell them very hard,” Holtz said.

Saturday’s matchup will mark the first time the ECU and Appalachian State have met since 1979. The two schools used to meet annually and Appalachian State holds the all-time series lead at 19-10.

“There’s a lot of people who have been pointing toward and looking forward to his ball game for a while,” Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore said.

There will be another first Saturday when Jackson State takes on Mississippi State in Starkville.

Never before have the SWAC and SEC met for a regular season matchup and the significance of the game, featuring probably the country’s most well-known historically black conference, is lost of few.

“We are very proud to be a part of this historical game that features the first time an SEC school has faced a SWAC school in football,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. “I know the guys on the team are excited; a lot of these guys grew up playing against each other in high school.”

Will He Or Won’t He? Aside from seeing whether the Mountaineers can knock off an FBS opponent for the second time in three years Saturday, keep an eye on whether ASU will trot out QB Armanti Edwards.

Edwards has been sidelined for several weeks after cutting his foot in a lawnmower accident in early August that kept him out of practice until Monday. Appalachian State is officially listing Edwards as questionable for the game, but ECU is ready for whoever the Mountaineers throw their way.

“Everybody wants to make the biggest issue about their quarterback, Armanti Edwards, and if he's going to play. At this point, I don't know if he's going to play or not,” Hotlz said. “We're not getting ourselves tied up into whether he will play because I think this football team is much more than just Edwards. He is a great player who has had great success. When you watch him on film, he has done some incredible things.”

While he’s officially listed as questionable, Moore said Edwards would more appropriately be labeled doubtful. Edwards can throw the ball without issue right now, but his conditioning is lacking and the injury itself is not completely healed. Edwards, according to Moore, needed 35 stitches to sure up the wound to his right foot. 

“I’d really be worried about him playing with it right now,” Moore said.

“But I can assure you everyone in Boone will make sure he’ll never have to mow another lawn,” Moore joked.

Edwards missed one game last year against Western Carolina. His backup, DeAndre Presley, accounted for 314 yards of offense and 4 TDs in that game. Presley, the assumed starter if Edwards does not go, got plenty of reps during the preseason so Moore isn’t worried about him taking over in Edwards absence.

Holtz, however, is.

“When you look at NFL rosters, the skill position players come from all over the country and all different size schools. App. State is no different,” Holtz said.

In Memory: Steve McNair did some pretty incredible things during his days at Alcorn State in the early 1990s and in the wake of his surprising July 4 death the SWAC will honor the former quarterback.

Southwestern Athletic Conference Commissioner Duer Sharp announced earlier in the week that every team in the conference will don a commemorative No. 9 decal on their helmets to pay homage to McNair and his many accomplishments during his college career.

In 1994, McNair finished an astounding third in the Heisman Trophy voting as a senior, losing out to Colorado’s Rashaan Salaam. That season, McNair racked up almost 6,000 yards of total offense and accounted for 53 touchdowns as he picked up the Walter Payton Award. The Houston Oilers made him the third pick in the 1994 NFL Draft as he left behind a legacy at Alcorn State that includes many national offensive records that still stand.

New Name, Same Award: It doesn’t get a ton of pub, but one of the most prestigious awards in college football was rebranded this week. The Vincent dePaul Draddy Trophy has been renamed in honor of William V. Campbell, the chairman of Intuit, former player and head coach at Columbia University.

The Campbell Award, given annually to the senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility that owns a GPA of at least 3.2 and has outstanding football ability as a first team player while demonstrating strong leadership and citizenship. If you haven’t heard of it, become familiar because it has some notable winners.

Peyton Manning and Chad Pennington are among 19 recipients of the award as players in every division are eligible, although no player from an I-AA or FCS school has ever won the award. The Campbell Award will be handed out at the 2009 National Football Foundation Awards dinner in New York this December.

Week 1’s Best Matchups:

UNI at Iowa – Sat., 12:05 PM ET
The Panthers head to Iowa City where one of the Big Ten’s better teams waits.

Southern Illinois at Marshall – Sat., 4:30 PM ET
The Salukis take on an improved Thundering Herd.

Richmond at Duke – Sat., 7:00 PM ET
The defending national champs take a crack at what is expected to be a much better Blue Devil team.