Ohio State Hopes To Become The Latest Underdog To Pull Upset For BCS Title

The favored team has won only three of the nine BCS championship games

Jan. 6, 2008

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Tim Tebow, Vince Young and Maurice Clarett all found out firsthand: When it's time to play for the college football title, it's hard to beat feeling like an underdog.

Fact is, the favored team has won only three of the nine BCS championship games. No wonder No. 1 Ohio State seems glad that oddsmakers are picking LSU to win Monday night's matchup by a field goal.

The Buckeyes even made it a rallying point, with coach Jim Tressel giving each of his players a 10-minute DVD filled with television and radio announcers belittling them.

"Obviously, you watch films like that and you realize just how much everybody hates you," offensive tackle Alex Boone said. "I think it was a great thing to watch because it made us more humble."

The us-against-everyone role makes sense to a true favorite - as in Marlon Favorite, an LSU defensive tackle.

"Being an underdog, it's a disposition and a great position," said Favorite, who moonlights as a rapper called The Big Fav. "It's a disposition because it's an attitude you take. It's a great position because no one expects you to do anything."

It's a spot that Tressel knows well. Last January, Ohio State was rated a touchdown better than Florida in the title game. With Tebow showing his Heisman Trophy potential, the Gators romped 41-14.

"Obviously, we made Florida too much of an underdog," said John Avello, director of race and sports operations at Wynn Las Vegas.

This year, Avello rated LSU a six-point favorite in his opening line. Since then, it's dropped to four points.

"That's a pretty significant move," he said. "But remember, I'm not trying to pick a winner. I'm trying to book the game."

Since the BCS started awarding titles in the 1998 season, lots of top names have wound up on the wrong end, including coaches Bobby Bowden and Pete Carroll.

Tennessee won that first championship with an upset over Florida State. Two years later, an Oklahoma team picked to lose by 10 points also defeated Bowden's Seminoles.


 

 

Clarett, Tressel and the Buckeyes supposedly stood little chance against Miami for the 2002 title. Ohio State wound up winning 31-24 in double overtime.

Nick Saban and LSU upended Oklahoma at the Superdome for the 2003 crown. Young and Texas shocked Carroll, Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and Southern California 41-38 to win the 2005 title.

So are all the upsets so unusual?

"I don't think it's a surprise. Both teams are good when you're in this game," Tressel said. "I don't know that there's any magical reason for that. But I know we won one time when we were there and we were the underdog."

Tressel is the main reason Avello gives Ohio State a solid chance to win this time.

"To me, the No. 1 thing in these games is the coach. Tressel is a great coach. In this matchup, he's far superior, the favorite," Avello said.

LSU's Les Miles will be coaching in his first championship game. He's portrayed by many as a risk-taker, and his team has hurt itself with penalties.

"To me, LSU is a bit of a loose cannon," Avello said.

Tigers All-American defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey likes that many people rate his team so highly. Yet he's not about to let Ohio State poor-mouth itself into being a lowly underdog.

"I don't really buy into all that," he said. "What other people are going to say, they're going to say.

"I see a great football team. I'm not buying who is underdog and who is the favorite."

Miles actually hoped to inspire his team with a little bit of underdog motivation Sunday night. He planned to gather the Tigers inside a hotel ballroom and show them the box-office hit movie "300" about a small band of Spartans trying to hold off a huge throng of enemy warriors.

Tressel did not anticipate taking the same tact.

"The last movie I went to was 'Jaws 1'," he said.

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