Appalachian State will come to Lawrence as a heavy underdog Sept. 10 because NCAA Division I-AA teams rarely are expected to be able to compete against bigger and stronger I-A programs.
The Mountaineers have heard that all before, though, and each year they continue to schedule big-name opponents with the objective of pulling off a stunner.
Appy State has been there, done that. In 2000, the Mountaineers spilled Wake Forest, 20-16 - the sixth victory they have posted over I-A competition since 1983.
One reason for the success is that Appy State is a haven for I-A transfers and has evolved into a I-AA power. A 6-5 record in 2004 is overshadowed by 12 playoff appearances in 19 years.
This fall, the Mountaineers will ride the right arm of Richie Williams, an experienced senior quarterback who passed for 3,109 yards and 24 touchdowns while rushing for 284 more yards last year.
Williams had a hand in 32 of ASU's 48 offensive touchdowns last year and was tapped a preseason I-AA All-American by The Sports Network this summer.
ASU's trip to Kansas University will be the first the program ever has made to Big 12 Conference country, but it won't be the only I-A game on the slate. On Nov. 5, the Mountaineers will face national power LSU in Baton Rouge, La..
The Sept. 10 game in Lawrence came about out of near desperation by both schools. KU was unable to find a I-A opponent for a home game, and Appalachian State needed a D-I opponent after Northwestern (La.) State backed out of a scheduled clash.
"The loss of the Northwestern State game was unfortunate, especially this late in the year," interim AD Linda Robinson said. "Our efforts to replace that game with another I-AA opponent were far-reaching."