Summer is officially here which means only a few more months until football games so what better way to celebrate this than to have a couple of Would You Rather? questions to ponder regarding college football.
Would you rather lose in a blowout or in the final seconds?
For me, I would rather lose in a blowout than lose a very evenly matched game in the final seconds. When you’re down by a significant margin, the sting of defeat is much easier to come to terms with and accept because you have no shot at winning. Yes, it’s completely embarrassing for any program to lose by over 30 points and the level of respect your opponents and onlookers have for you drops but in the grand scheme of everything, people often forget about those blowouts. The games are often forgettable letdowns as there is little to no drama, competition or excitement. For example, in the 2014 Big Ten championship, Wisconsin, who was favored by 4.5 points and I predicted would win, was dismantled by Ohio State 59-0. Yes, the painful memory still lingers but to be honest, I often forget about that loss since it was over before it even started. I was able to get over it much easier than one particular game that took place in 2011 for my beloved Badgers.
Wisconsin (No. 6 BCS, No. 4 AP) invaded East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans (No. 16, No. 15) for a Saturday primetime matchup on October 22nd and it was a tense, back-and-forth contest with multiple lead changes. In the fourth quarter, Michigan State’s lead ballooned to 31-17 but with 1:26 remaining, Badgers quarterback Russell Wilson tied the game 31-31 with a two-yard touchdown pass to running back Montee Ball. It appeared the game would head to overtime but on a last-second Hail Mary pass, Spartan quarterback Kirk Cousin’s desperation heave deflected off receiver B.J. Cunningham’s helmet and into the hands of Keith Nichol, who lunged forward, fighting off two defenders just enough to cross the goal-line for the game-winning score. The reason this one was so painful was the fact that Wisconsin was ranked so high and whispers of a national championship run were being floated around. Now, the game was tied and was headed into overtime so we still could’ve lost but to have those title aspirations erased that suddenly was mind-numbing.
The problem with losing in the final seconds is there is this tremendous amount of hope that your team can pull it out and the agony of having that hope ripped away in such a dramatic, mind-blowing matter is much more devastating. Just the thought of these athletes putting everything on the line and getting all the way to the finish line only to fall just short is the epitome of heartbreak and these losses are much harder to forget.
Would you rather attend a college or NFL football game?
It’s the age-old question that nearly every football fan must answer at some point in their lifetime but for me, I would rather attend a college football game than an NFL game. The first reason is that nothing can replace the lore, pageantry, and tradition that so many college programs have that distinguish them from their competitors. Tailgating at The Grove at Ole Miss, the Ohio State marching band forming its famous “Script Ohio” formation, the War Eagle taking flight at Auburn, the Sooner Schooner at Oklahoma or Clemson players touching Howard’s Rock as they enter. These are things you don’t see happen anywhere else. In addition to the special traditions, think about all the unique and historic venues these programs play in from the Big House, the Swamp, the Horseshoe, the two Death Valleys and the Coliseum. Most of the NFL stadiums are rather bland, corporate, and ordinary. Also, I can’t think of any NFL rivalry that can compare with how passionate and emotional college football’s premier rivalries are such as Michigan-Ohio State, Alabama-Auburn, Texas-Oklahoma.
Second, there’s something for everyone. You can see dozens of different offenses and formations like the triple option, spread, pro-style, wishbones, and flexbones whereas the NFL mostly runs variations of the West Coast offense. You can also witness players being utilized like Swiss Army knives, playing multiple positions.
College football has better rules such as players needing only one foot down inbounds to complete a catch and having pass interference be a consistent 15-yard penalty. My favorite is overtime actually gives each team an equal opportunity to possess the ball whereas the team that wins the coin toss in the NFL has a huge advantage and usually wins the game as we saw in this past year’s Super Bowl with the Patriots.
Finally, the NFL boasts that it has more parity than college and any team can win on any given Sunday, adding an element of unpredictability but a balanced league means a dearth of underdogs and few epic David overcoming Goliath storylines. It also means there is no chance for the elation that comes with an odds-defying win, the type of thrill that leads thousands to storm the field and celebrate together. When a team scores a game-winning touchdown on a Hail Mary, it’s even more exciting than when the same thing happens in the pros because there are fewer games in college, four times as many teams and losing even one game can completely ruin a season. That means that every play carries more weight than they do in the pros.
These are just a few reasons why I prefer college over pros and I’m sure you can definitely think of more. Summer is great but Saturdays aren’t the same without football.