College Football and Feeling the Pain of a Late-Season Loss

Isaac LuberSenior Analyst INovember 11, 2008

Over the past few years, college football has changed. There are no longer those "unbeatable" teams that crush every team in their way on the way to a 12-0 season and a national championship game against another "unbeatable" team. Those days are over.

For some reason, whether it be scholarship limits or recognition of smaller schools, the powerhouses have basically disappeared. In the past two seasons, dozens of upsets have broken the hearts of many fans.

Upsets such as Pitt over West Virginia, Appalachian State over Michigan, Iowa over Penn State, Oregon State over USC, and so on. The small schools, for some reason, are now able to upset the traditional powerhouses. The fan bases of these powerhouses have their hearts broken every year because they lose a game that they should have won.

Some of these upsets aren't so bad. When LSU lost twice last year, the Tigers still got into the national championship because they didn't lose very late in the season. USC's loss this year to Oregon State isn't so bad because USC still has a shot at the title. Florida's loss to Ole Miss earlier in the season doesn't hurt anymore, now that Florida is No. 3 and has a great shot at the national title.

For me, personally, two losses have crushed me in my life. One of those was Michigan over Penn State in 2005, and the other was Iowa over Penn State last weekend. These two games ended perfect seasons and a shot at the national championship.

The Michigan one was controversial, and many bad calls led to the last second (which was also controversial) touchdown. However, I am not here to talk about how Michigan "cheated" us. I am here to describe the pain that I have felt, and that I'm sure many of my fellow college football fans have felt.

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The Michigan loss was very painful, it put us at 6-1, and we went on to win the rest of our games and the Orange Bowl over Bobby Bowden and the Seminoles.

The Iowa loss, however, was much more painful. Penn State passed its biggest stretch of games, which were games against Purdue on the road, Wisconsin on the road, Michigan at home, and Ohio State on the road. We also crushed a very talented Oregon State team at the beginning of the season.

The only games we had left were against a mediocre, but scrappy Iowa team, a bad Indiana team, and a decent Michigan State team. After a bye week, I expected Penn State to come out strong and crush Iowa, especially after they didn't move up to No. 2 in the polls.

Penn State looked good in the second and third quarters, but was really unable to get its offense going. The defense was great until the fourth quarter, where Iowa scored 10 unanswered points, including a last second field goal, to pull off the upset.

Penn State had the easiest road to go undefeated out of the top three teams, and it blew it. Texas Tech still has Oklahoma and the Big 12 Championship to play, and Alabama, after escaping LSU in overtime, still has the SEC championship to play.

The Lions seemed like they were a lock to go undefeated and would most likely be in the championship game, but upsets mess up everything. They break peoples' hearts, and this one broke my heart.

After the loss, I will admit that I was crying. I dropped to my knees, and then went face-first into my hardwood floor. I just laid there, sobbing, trying to pretend that it didn't happen.

After I got up, I went on a rampage. I took pillows and slammed them against the couch, I dented my dad's home office door, I went into the basement and threw childhood toys against the wall until they broke, and then I started denting wooden doors and walls with a hockey stick. I also took a piece of metal and smashed my bedroom door. My heart was broken and I couldn't control myself.

The pain that I felt was worse than any pain I have felt in my life.  It was a gut-wrenching pain that made me choke and nearly vomit countless times. It was a heartbreaking pain that made my insides sore and my outsides hot with anger and frustration. It was pain that put water in my eyes and a bullet through my heart.

My life was over. Penn State lost. It was unbearable, unthinkable. I had to punch and pinch myself just to make sure that it wasn't all a horrible nightmare. The pain of a loss, especially an upset, is just awful.

The pain that I felt from this loss was destroying me, just knowing that a loss this late in the season meant that my team had virtually no shot at a national title, while just a few hours before they were basically a lock for the game.

I'm sure that West Virginia fans, Missouri fans, and all other fans who have had their teams upset in recent years felt the way I did. The way I still do. I'm not sure if I can ever recover from this loss, especially when its a loss to an inferior team late in the season, a loss that should never have been a loss.

The pain wouldn't have been so bad if we had lost earlier in the season. That way, we could have climbed back up the rankings and still had the national championship game in our sights. That way, the loss wouldn't be so painful because we would not have gotten past all of our major tests, and I would not have known how good this team really is.

Late season losses, especially in college football, may be the most painful times in all of sports. If you lose in the national championship, you can understand that because you're playing against a very good team, and you both want to win that game.

Losing in any other sport isn't as bad. In college basketball, you can have like 15 losses and still get into the Final Four tournament. In the NFL, you can have six or seven losses and still make the playoffs. In the NHL and the NBA, you can have a ton of losses and still get into the playoffs.

In college football, one loss can cost you the chance to go to the national championship game. College football losses are the most dramatic, most severe, and most painful losses in all of sports, and are probably the most painful losses in peoples' sports lives.

I have felt this pain and I feel it now, and I'm sure all of you have felt it as well. The pain of a college football loss, of an upset loss, of a late-season loss, of a late season upset loss, is too painful for any die-hard fan to handle. I'm feeling this pain, and nothing anyone says or does can make it better or worse.

Unless...of course...Penn State makes it to the national championship and wins it. Then, I can finally go to the title game and storm the field when the team wins, I can finally be cured, I can finally stop hurting. I'm almost positive that many of you have felt the same way.

This article is expressing and trying to explain the pain that I, and many other college football fans, suffer from a late-season upset loss. If you would like, you can comment on times your team has been upset and how you felt when it happened, and how you felt for the rest of the season.

If you want to express yourself, that is great, but the one thing that will be the same in every case is that late season losses hurt, and they hurt a lot.

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