The Year of the Upset: What Gives an Underdog the Advantage?
College football never fails to thrill. Teams come and go, rivalries are born and rekindled, and fans use catch phrases to describe big moments similar to the NFL’s “the drive,” Doug Flutie’s “Hail Mary,” and teams like “The Cardiac Kids.” If there were one phrase to describe the topsy-turvy college football season of 2007, it would be this:
The Year of the Upset.
This year, an unranked or lower ranked team beat teams higher in the rankings a whopping 59 times. Twelve of those upsets were unranked teams beating a top 5 team. Apparently the 2-spot was cursed, since the team in the #2 position was beaten 7 times by a seemingly lesser opponent. It all started with the big upset from Appalachian State pulling a big victory out of their match up against the #2 Michigan Wolverines. The most recent were #9 Oklahoma topping #1 Missouri and the unranked team from Pitt pulling a out a “W” against #2 West Virginia.
What is going on? I have my theories, but the bottom line is that nothing is certain in the world of college football.
Regardless of whether it’s a regular season game or Bowl Week, I love to cheer for the underdog. Being an Irish fan, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to do that this year. It makes the game exciting and I’ll be honest, I was happy for Navy to get their first victory over the Irish in 43 years. Might as well happen this year, right?
What does it take for the team that is looked over as easy prey to beat a highly competitive team? There are several key components for them to pull out an unbelievable – and unpredictable – win.
When it’s all said and done, I guarantee you that on the whole, fans won’t be breaking down every play of the big bowl games except those that result in a huge upset. The games that will get the most attention are the shockers that no one really saw coming. They’ll get the longest highlight reels and the most blog coverage the next morning. The teams that everyone will stand up and notice will be the teams that had all the chips stacked against them still ended up on top of the heap as the victorious ones.
by Angela Moore
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