In college football, more than any other sport, the planets often mis-align at the wrong time.
This morning, I had an epiphany
In the wake of Washington’s surreal 33-21 Lazarus-act in Seattle Saturday night, I recalled old Chuck Schultz.
You remember The Peanuts old “Lucy with the Football” running gag. Lucy would snatch the ball from Charlie Brown’s eager an earnest attempt, time and again sending him hurtling end over end like, well, a kicked football.
The epiphany: Lucy was related to the College Football Gods
In every other sport, you can look at circumstances, sense the inevitable, and say, “ball game. This one’s over." The Montana-era 49ers up 21 at the end of three? Let's go to the park before it gets too dark. Roger Federer up 2 sets to love? Time to do some homework.
I never reached that point last night. I know this animal all too well.
With Arizona up 33-21 with about 4 minutes left, I texted the following to my good friend Curtis:
“If we keep them out of the end zone before the 2 minute warning, it’s a wrap.” Big mistake.
It was akin to the kids in the horror movie forest who speak of the old legend and laugh it off, before they get devoured.
Consider the evidence of famous last words.
v Orange Bowl, 1984-“Miami Hurricanes lose at home? Up 42-3? To Maryland? Impossible!”
v Tiger Stadium, Oregon State at LSU, 2004- Alexis Serna can’t possibly miss two chip shot field goals AND 3 PATs
v Faurot Field, Colorado v. Missouri, 1990-“That idiot spiked the ball on fourth down. We won!”
These are all “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” losses. They leave you silent, mouth agape. They can’t be explained by “well, if we would have done this, this wouldn’t have happened.” The coaches are not to blame. The best secondary in the conference got beat on consecutive floaters, first on the TD, and subsequently on a later 2pt conversion. Those plays sandwiched DelaShaun Dean’s hacky-sacking the ball into Mason Foster’s hands, on what was a perfect call to get a first down. His feet join Matt Davison’s of Nebraska in 1997.
Some teams seem to be on the wrong side of serendipity. Just Thursday, Missouri hit their third snake-eyes courtesy of football’s cosmic crapshoot. On the other end, LSU has rolled 7 and 11 three times this decade (Kentucky in 2002, Oregon State in 2004, Arizona State in 2005). If college football weirdness is Calvinist, then Arizona fans are in the loser line (see Miami, 1992; Cal in 1996; New Mexico and Wisconsin in 2007).
So, I would admonish Wildcat fans not to drive themselves apoplectic with second-guessing. The lost points in the Red Zone, irrelevant. The late play calls, immaterial. Just charge it up to this game that continues to amaze and surprise us.
Even when it puts us on our backs.