I can't take credit for the title. A friend of mine has been using the term since Mississippi State Football first hit #1 in the polls.
But I TOTALLY get it.
I'm the kind of State fan that has ridden the roller coaster of hope and disappointment before. A LOT. We, as Bulldogs, embody the old adage of "hope springs eternal". Perennially, we hope that THIS will be the year that we go back to Atlanta. Each year (except 1998), we quickly realize that THIS will actually be the year that we will only squeak into bowl eligibility, and Atlanta is COMPLETELY out of the picture.
Not this year.
This year is the season (so far. knock on wood.) that even us seasoned, jaded fans are starting to raise our eyes to that metropolitan skyline in Georgia. It is full of possibilities, good publicity, fun games, close calls, and more positive comments from color commentators than we have EVER received.
Seriously, in the past when we beat a team by whom we were expected to be made in minced meat, it was always their own fault. Commentators talked about how our opponents fell apart, never about our own efforts. For the most part, this was with good reason. We've been really bad in the past. REALLY bad. On an EPIC level. Sometimes, though, it was just insulting.
Now, each week, the praise gets better. Our mistakes are noted as unfortunate, but not insurmountable. When other teams rattle us, even for a few minutes of play, it is OUR fault, not THEIR strength. Oh, how the tables have turned. For the first time in forever (fear not, I'm not breaking into a Disney song here), WE are the team to beat. For the first time EVER, we are NUMBER ONE. IN THE COUNTRY. And we did it in RECORD TIME.
We are the first #1 ranked team to ever be announced by the selection committee for the college football playoff. We are the answer to a question in a future version of Trivial Pursuit.
I LOVE IT.
And I hate it.
And I LOVE it
It's a roller coaster. Did I mention I get motion sick? Us Bulldogs, we're not conditioned for this.
Why the hate? Because every week, WE ARE THE TEAM TO BEAT. For any team that can manage it, we are a statement. We are a moral victory. If they can beat us, WE are their big win. I'm not comfortable in this position. I'm not accustomed to it. To know that EVERY team you play against will NOT be looking past you to the next big team on their schedule, but that you ARE the big team on their schedule. They are all gunning for us. US. The Bulldogs. Smallest athletic budget in the SEC. Small town, cow college, no respect, backwoods, maroon and white, MISSISSIPPI STATE. Suddenly, we have a target on our back. And our chest. And our helmet.
Every week matters. EVERY WEEK.
It's both beautiful and horrific.
I love it because I love winning. I love the celebration. And, truthfully, I love the team this year. I'm not the biggest fan of each and every individual player, but for the most part, I really like this group of guys.
But on the flip side, every time a turnover happens, or an opponent makes it to the red zone, I start to feel a mild internal panic. Because THIS could be the moment when it all goes down the drain. THIS could be the moment that ruins the rest of the year. THIS could be what keeps us out of the playoff. THIS WEEK. THIS GAME. THIS MOMENT.
I knew it would be lonely at the top. I didn't realize it would be this nerve wracking.
Of course, that might only be because I'm a tad too emotionally invested in a sports team.
Stop judging. I'm sure you have the same problem with something in your life. It just maybe isn't sports. Glass houses, people.
Anyway, I'm enjoying this season immensely. And also trying not to have a coronary event at every turn.
And if Dak Prescott doesn't win the Heisman, I might lose the only ounce of cool I have ever possessed.
Y'all pray for me.