MORGANTOWN, W. Va. -- On Sept. 1, 2007, The Big House belonged to the little guys.
David felled Goliath. It was the shrimpy kid finally mustering enough nerve to wallop the bully in the lip; it was all the cliches you could come up with playing out on a 100-yard green parcel.
Two years and one day ago, Division I-AA Appalachian State pulled off one of the most stunning upsets in college football history, going to Michigan and beating the then-No. 5 Wolverines in an opening-week matchup, 34-32.
After the game, Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore said of the win against one of the biggest boys from the Big Ten: "Someone said it might be one of the big victories in college football. It may be the biggest."
That splendid, sunny Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor -- for Appalachian State fans, at least -- served as the lone time a Division I-AA opponent knocked off a ranked I-A team since the divisions were created in 1978.
It did a lot more. It woke up big school coaches to the fact that such a loss could happen. On that day in Michigan, Appalachian State went home with a win, a $400,000 paycheck and forced bigger schools to change their approach to entertaining a lower-division opponent.
Famously, former Steelers announcer Myron Cope -- who was a prolific sports writer before his career behind a microphone -- used to call such opponents "rent-a-victims."
Appalachian State changed that that day in Ann Arbor.
West Virginia plays Division I-AA Liberty at noon Saturday in Morgantown, and Mountaineers head coach Bill Stewart understands what could happen with a lapse in effort or focus.
Last week, Stewart was asked what ripples the Appalachian State victory still has through college football and, in particular, his program. He was direct with an answer that could well be an edict to his team.
"I'm glad you brought that up, thanks for bringing that up, it is a great question," Stewart said, seriously.
"I tell our guys all the time, 'You better respect all and fear none, you better respect all and fear none.'
"And if we don't respect Liberty, the exact same thing will happen to us, and they will do it to us without blinking an eye."
Truth be told, this Liberty team is not that 2007 Appalachian State team on several levels. Appalachian State went into that Michigan game the two-time defending Division I-AA national champion and winner of 14 consecutive games.
Liberty is good, but not that good; the Flames went 10-2 last year, have won two consecutive Big South Conference titles and have realized a resurgence in the past four years under coach Danny Rocco, going 24-10.
That said, Liberty was not ranked in either of the widely recognized Division I-AA preseason polls, coming in No. 26 in one, 27th in the other.
None of that matters to West Virginia offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen. He understands Liberty knows what it is up against -- the Flames have played a Division I-A opponent nine of the past 10 years and are one of the I-AA schools that earned a rare win against such competition, beating Eastern Michigan in 1989.
"We know we have a formidable opponent," Mullen said.
"And that's regardless of how many 'A's' are behind their 'one' when people talk about what classification they are. We just got to go play it the same as any other game. ... We are going to need to be ready to play."
The way Rocco sees it, just about everyone outside of his program will count him out Saturday. But, for a guy in his situation, where there's a will -- and the memory of Appalachian State -- there's a way.
"I think there is probably some legitimate value in that Appalachian State game for a team like us," Rocco said. "You think back to that game, and one of the main things I think about is that it was the opening week. Because of that, there are unknowns, and I think that had a lot to do with Appalachian State winning.
"It is my feeling that the greatest chance for a team in our division to defeat a I-A opponent is the first week because, like I said, there are so many unknowns going into that first game.
"We need to at least play nearly perfect to win, I know that much. And then we could be in position to do something huge."
Just like Appalachian State, perhaps.