Why we love football: the upsets

Bobby Curran
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Friday - September 26, 2008
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When you come right down to it, what makes football so wildly popular in this country is the possibility of upsets - pulling one off against a favored opponent if you’re the underdog, avoiding the trap of overconfidence if you’re expected to win. The peaks and valleys for many teams create a certain tension and drama on game day that infects players and fans alike.

Take UCLA, for example: a terrific opening upset against Tennessee followed by a blowout loss at BYU, then another loss to Arizona. What will the Bruins be like when they host Fresno State this Saturday?

While we each may have an opinion, none of us really knows what will happen come game time. Already East Carolina has scored with a couple of upsets over Virginia Tech and West Virginia, then suffers one against N.C. State. UNLV dropped No. 15, Arizona State and Boise State knocked off No. 17 Oregon.


And that’s exactly what is so riveting about football. Even the NFL has its share of shockers.Who could’ve guessed that the lowly Miami Dolphins would whip New England 38-13? If it weren’t for upset possibilities you wouldn’t even bother to watch USC or Oklahoma games this season, but that’s why we pay attention every weekend.

Along with football season you get the seemingly endless advertisements by people trying to sell you “guaranteed winners” of football games.The pitch is always the same: They have inside information and they pick the winner 85 percent of the time. So call now and begin amassing your fortune immediately.

Now ask yourself this. If these guys really knew anything, would they be trying to shake you down for a couple hundred bucks for the information? Of course not. They’d be at the sports book in Vegas putting down every dollar they could beg, borrow or steal.


And I love this part: “If we’re wrong, you get the rest of the season absolutely free.” Oh, terrific! After having paid for a pick and then losing lots of money on it, I now want more picks from the people who were wrong in the first place? I don’t think so.

Here’s the only great tip you’ll ever get from me: Don’t bet on games that feature a ball that does-n’t bounce straight. Period.

It has long been held that a salary cap and a draft should guarantee parity in the NFL. But if you are to watch the St. Louis Rams or the Kansas City Chiefs, it is hard to believe that they’re given the same opportunities as everyone else. These are truly bad football teams. Neither looks capable of winning more than a couple of games apiece unless there is a huge improvement in their play. Meanwhile, on the other side, there are the teams in the NFC East, all of which are decent, and the top three - the Cowboys, Giants and Eagles - are really good. Look at the teams playing well, and invariably they’re strong at QB. You simply cannot win in the league without a solid signal caller.And just to be safe, you really should have two of them.

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