The underdog is catching up. There's never been a better time to root for the little guy, and at the rate things are going, the word underdog may soon become obsolete.
The small schools down the road from the big dogs haven’t quite caught up to their BCS counterparts yet, but the talent gap has never been closer.
The recent rash of upsets or near upsets began three years ago when Appalachian State stunned the then No. 4-ranked Michigan Wolverines. It was a game that shocked the nation, but little did we know, that would only be the beginning.
Let’s fast forward to 2010. This past weekend Jacksonville State, a Football Championship Subdivision team from the Ohio Valley Conference, trailed 31-10 at halftime but outscored Ole Miss 21-3 in the fourth quarter to force overtime.
On the final crazy play of a crazy game, Jacksonville State running back Calvin Middleton found himself in the middle of a mass of bodies as quarterback Coty Blanchard lofted a shovel pass for a 2-point conversion toward the end zone.
“Without a doubt, it’s the worst loss of my career,” Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said.
It’s the first time Jacksonville State has beaten a Football Bowl Subdivision team since Sept. 27, 2001, when the Gamecocks beat Arkansas State. The 21-point deficit was the largest Jacksonville State has overcome in school history.
Jeremiah Masoli made his much-anticipated debut for Mississippi after being cleared by the NCAA on Friday. He completed 7 of 10 passes for 109 yards and one interception and led the Rebels on both of their touchdown drives in overtime. Masoli was clearly a difference in the game. Without him, I am not so sure Jacksonville State would have had to make a comeback effort like they did.
All this proves is that the underdog is catching up. It was bound to happen. These BCS schools that consistently schedule FCS schools or seemingly inferior opponents from mid-major conferences would eventually pay for it.
There is of course, nothing to be gained for a BCS school blowing out a FCS school, but there is so much to lose. I also suspect that there will be more upsets before the year is over. Around the nation more so-called underdogs are hovering beneath the radar while their BCS counterparts lick their chops.
The logic behind this is fairly simple. The FCS schools are less likely to have most of it's players leave early to go play in the NFL. So the FCS schools have more mature men playing versus some talented young adults. This may not seem like much but most 22 and 23 year olds are stronger, faster, and play much smarter than 18 and 19 year olds.
The way I see it, one day, a mid-major school will play for the national title. Don't laugh, it will happen. Whether in the current BCS format, or when a playoff system is finally implemented, it will happen. Maybe then, the underdog will be respected.