Underdog Mentality alive, well

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The Paul Bunyan Trophy graced the Duffy Daugherty building for 3 of my 4 years at MSU. Spartan’s have had it since 2013.

 

Underdog: a competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or contest.

My first experience with the term was in 2006 when the Rose Bowl underdog — University of Texas — beat my childhood dream school, USC. I was heartbroken, my mom, who to this day always roots for the underdog, cheered for Texas, and I couldn’t understand how she could betray me.

That was seventh grade. I am now 10 years wiser and understand that statistics can’t always predict a game. I’ve learned that being the so-called “underdog” can be beneficial.

The story of the underdog goes back thousands of years. The first underdog we learn about growing up is David as in David and Goliath. We all love a good underdog story. Sports fans love the underdog idea so much that when making March Madness brackets you need to have at least two upsets and a “Cinderella team.” The idea of favored to win, underdog and major upsets, is what sports fans thrive on.

Last weekend, my most hated team growing up — Texas — beat Oklahoma, 24-17. Oklahoma was favored to win. Going in to the Red River Showdown, UT was 1-6, and sports reporters had been discussing head coach Charlie Strong’s job all week. OU had a seven-point spread. OU was 4-0 until Texas. No one saw it happening but it did and while Longhorn fans are rejoicing and Sooner fans can’t wait till next year, the sports world is stuck wondering how?

How did UT beat OU? How are the Cubs and the Astros in MLB post season right now? Like some would say, Texas had more on the line, they had more to play for and to prove.

In the words of my favorite college football coach, Mark Dantonio (MSU), “The pride comes before the fall.”

I truly learned what it meant to be the “underdog” and its benefits as an undergraduate student at Michigan State. Next to our in-state rival, Michigan, we always have been the underdog because of history.

Historically, the maize (it’s actually yellow) and blue have had the more successful program, but as of late it’s the Spartans running the state. Spartan nation has won six of the last seven meetings. We are now ranked seventh, after starting at fifth and spending a couple weeks at No. 2, we are 6-0. But Michigan is ranked 12th, is 5-1 in the season and is favored as always. Vegas has Michigan as the 6.5 point favorite in Saturday’s match up.

But that’s OK, I’m fine with it and I know Spartan nation is, too. We feed upon the doubters. We are fueled by never receiving the respect we have earned. MSU has always been the underdog and we are fine staying there.

For “underdogs” everywhere, it’s always better to shock people than to give them exactly what they expected. According to MSU starting quarterback Connor Cook, a “chip on the shoulder” isn’t so bad after all.

“We’re going to go into each and every game with the underdog mentality, that we’re going on out there and prove to everyone why we deserve the respect that we deserve,” Cook said.

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