"...the fog is rising."
This allegorical imagery was Emily Dickinson's last, spoken to her sister from her deathbed in 1886. If you watched the 2007 season you're no stranger to famous last words. Ask No. 18 Louisville, No. 5 Michigan, No. 2 South Florida, No. 2 USC, No. 2 California, No. 1 LSU, No. 1 Ohio State, and No. 1 Missouri about the eggshell steps modern favorites take to the championship.
Is the rise of the Davids, led by Appalachian State a sign that parity in college football has changed forever, or rather, does the famous German philosophy of destiny einman ist keinmal (what happens once may well have never happened at all) control?
The Rivalry, Esq. has laid out the cards. And on the wide, lazy stretches of open river, we see whitewater ahead.
Here are the Top 5 upsets that will define 2008, in headline form.
5. ONE AND DONE? MIGHTY MIZZOU GETS JUICED (August 30th, 2008)
Pundits and hysterics alike will reconvene at their favorite campus haunts August 30th, sunburned and hoarse from their own team's opening day matchup for the premiere edition of Saturday Night Football. Although they'll have drowned a few too many Coors Lights to see it at full resolution, 2008 will open like a Roger Moore Bond film.
There are a lot of reasons to like Missouri. They're fresh off a dynamically successful season -- punctuated by a Sports Illustrated cover, a Biblical betrayal by the BCS and a spring game that looked the first half of the UNC/Kansas Final Four.
They've returned a scary good offense. Even the defense can't knock them out of contention for a Top 5 entry ranking. And, I saved the best for last: they've got unfinished business.
Compare Illinois. They're fresh off a surprising surge -- an away upset of a No. 1, immediately followed by a catapult shot to the rose garden, free iPods, and an a colonoscopy.
They've returned a quick QB, but dropped their engine. And, I saved the best for last: The Rivalry, Esq. has already gone on record in its June 9th Big Ten Preview Series, saying "The Missouri Tigers want it more."
So why does this Schlabach in the making think the Tigers will tank? Do me a favor, go back up to the paragraph beginning with "There are a lot of reasons..." and re-read my preview of Mizzou, only this time, replace "Missouri" with "Michigan in 2007."
4. WEST VIRGINIA SLAIN BY THEIR OWN SWORD (October 23rd, 2008)
The first meeting ever between Auburn and West Virginia (also notable as the closest an SEC team will ever come to playing north of the Mason-Dixon Line), will be a parade of the old "anything you can do, I can do better" mentality.
Tommy Tuberville's new spread offense will give the Mountaineers a dose of their own medicine, and for the first time in almost a year, Morgantown residents will have a new coach to complain about.
"Einman ist keinmal (what happens once may well have never happened at all)"
3. OLD BALL COACH TEACHES CLEMSON NEW TRICKS (November 29th, 2008)
After holding off Alabama in a tit-for-tat opener, Tommy Bowden will coast Clemson through the Atlantic -- and onto the National Championship expressway. But, they'll never make it out of the state.
A visit from Steve Spurrier will haunt the Tiger faithful forever in a low scoring, defense-dominated shocker on the last Saturday of the regular season.
2. TO THE VICTORS BELONG THE SPOILS (November 22nd, 2008)
Impossible, you say?
It's the fear of every Buckeye. Dubbed by the media as "the greatest college football team of all time," the top-ranked Scarlet came into the Rivalry riding the coattails of a 22-game winning streak, and led by the legendary Woody Hayes. Their adversary was rebuilding, a proud program down on it's luck, fronted by a curious new coach: Schembechler.
The result, one of the biggest upsets in college football history and the beginning of the Ten-Year War. An unusually warm Saturday in late November will be eerily similar to that day in 1969 when the Wolverines are born again.
1. HE'S STILL GOT IT. FSU FOILS FLORIDA (November 29th, 2008)
On the same day the son suffers his greatest setback, the father will take the train to retirement on the shoulders of the greatest upset of the 2008 college football season.
The Seminoles will show they're on their way back with a defensive symphony of stops, and a last minute surge that will knock the wind out of the Gators' national championship hopes.