By David Coulson
College Sports Journal
Colors of orange and red from the maple and oak trees enveloping my yard were showing off brilliant tones and it looked like a great day for a football game between two of the biggest rivals in the Football Championship Subdivision, Georgia Southern and Appalachian State.
But like they say up here in the Appalachian Mountains, if you don't like the weather (or, even if you do), wait five minutes and it will change.
About three hours later when I pulled into town, the weather had indeed changed. Snow flurries are falling on Kidd Brewer Stadium on a cold day that will prove challenging for players and fans alike.
It might also put a damper on what was expected to be a record crowd of over 32,000. We will see how hearty the fans from ASU and GSU are on this day.
Game-time temperatures were suppose to be in the low 40s, but then the rain and snow were suppose to have been gone hours ago, too.
Ironically, this is the third straight time that I have visited Kidd Brewer Stadium with snow in the mix. I covered last year's ASU-Western Illinois second-round playoff game where about a foot of snow fell and I attended the ASU-Villanova quarterfinal contest a week later when the Wildcats escaped town with a win and just before another blizzard hit.
Some folks around here think I am somewhat of a weather jinx these days.
Visitors in the press box told me when they left Savannah, GA. on Friday, it was nearly 70 degrees.
Whatever the weather, I am expecting another classic game in what has been an iconic FCS series. Since Georgia Southern and Appalachian State began playing in the I-AA/FCS era, few rivalries have produced such good football.
Georgia Southern just has to be happy that the weather isn't like it was when Erk Russell brought his team up for the modern renewal of the series in 1987.
The two-time national champion Eagles encountered one of the coldest days for football in Kidd Brewer Stadium history, with wind chills hovering near and below zero as the two teams battled snow and ice.
Steam literally billowed off Russell's trademark bald head as he directed his team from the sideline.
The combination of App State's defense and the icy conditions made it almost impossible for Russell's triple option to function that day and ASU ended the Eagles' reign as national champions with a 19-0 quarterfinal-round playoff victory.
A week later, the top-seeded Mountaineers were stunned at home by Marshall 24-10 in the semifinals — a Thundering Herd team that ASU had beaten 17-10 in Huntington, W.V. on its way to its first Southern Conference title.
Marshall dropped a one-point thriller to QB Stan Humphries and Northeast Louisiana (now Louisiana-Monroe) in the NCAA Division I championship game a week after that.
Since 1993, ASU and GSU have done battle as Southern Conference opponents and also on the national scene and the rivalry has only intensified.
Twice, teams have come into this game ranked No. 1 in the country and left as losers (Georgia Southern falling 17-16 in 1999 in Boone and Appalachian State stumbling 21-14 in overtime last year in Statesboro, GA.).
With Georgia Southern undefeated at 7-0 overall and 5-0 in the SoCon and ranked No. 1 and facing an ASU squad (5-2, 3-1) that is ranked fifth nationally, the chance of that happening again is one of the draws of this game.