Sam Burnham, Curator
Conference Championship Weekend has quite the history of upsets and crazy happenings. We go into this weekend every season with expectations of what will happen and who the four playoff teams will be. But it seems like every year that something happens.
What happens is due to one of my favorite factors of the sport. This is the thing that makes college football the greatest sport on Earth.
Go back to October 20th of last season. The undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes roll into West Lafayette, Indiana for what should have been a routine drubbing of the Purdue Boilermakers. What happened instead was an entire campus, inspired by a terminally ill student and Purdue super fan, Tyler Trent, encircled the Buckeyes and best then in every aspect of the game. On paper, Purdue wouldn’t have beaten the Buckeyes one time out of ten. On that night though, there was nothing the Buckeyes could have done differently. No matter what, they were going to lose that game.
Intangibles are the building blocks of upsets. You never know when a favorite is going to show up flat, when an underdog is going to play like a champion, when a particular defensive scheme is going to foil a particular offense. This game has a depth that goes beyond talent, size, strength, and speed. It’s a magical thing when we look back at Flutie’s “Hail Mary” or Joe Pa’s Nittany Lions shutting down Miami to win the national championship. There’s that Statue of Liberty that Boise State used to stun the Sooners and Cal’s unlikely kick return with some help from the Stanford marching band.
Do not dismiss the underdogs this week. Expect the unexpected. Something crazy will happen. It will impact the playoff. When it happens homers will cheer or cry and the rest of us will smile, Shake our heads, and thank the Lord above for giving us this greatest of all games. These are the moments we long for. This is why we love this game.
The Curator and other knowledgeable voices...mostly Southerners... on the subject