Greatest upset of all time?

“Greatest Team Ever!” “Quite possibly the greatest Quarterback ever!” “One of the greatest coaches of all-time!” “Greatest dynasty of all-time!” Sound a bit familiar? It should. These statements blanketed the airwaves prior to the 2006 Rose Bowl between the University of Southern California and the University of Texas. The Trojans, having won the previous BCS Title and a share of the national title in the 2003 season, were ready to go for a three-peat, cementing Matt Leinart as the greatest collegiate quarterback of all-time, and with the talent across the 2005 USC Trojan squad, the greatest team collegiate football team of all-time. If you’re wondering why this is significant, you haven’t been watching any of the past two weeks of Super Bowl coverage, or for that matter, the last two months of media coverage on the New England Patriots. Similarly, we were all led to believe (by the mainstream sports media) that the Patriots were unstoppable, that they were the equivalent of one of those teams you build up in “Madden ’08.”Aaron Schatz, writer for Pro Football Prospectus told Bill Simmons of ESPN’s Page 2, “If you pick the Giants, it means you are either looking for attention or you actually believe the Giants have a greater than 50% chance to win this game, which is simply ridiculous.” Prior to Super Bowl XLII, did New England have the better season? Yes. Were they the better team Sunday night? No. That’s the brilliance of football; you leave it out on the field for 60 minutes on that one day. The game brought back memories of the Rose Bowl. Both games featured a #10 quarterback leading a late game comeback, against “the greatest team of all-time” to propel their respective squad to immortality and their opponent to the answer to a trivia question. Each quarterback made a play on the game-winning drive, which they will be remembered for throughout their careers, Vince Young’s “4th and 5” and Eli Manning’s “run around, avoid three lineman, avoid the sack, run around some more and complete a pass to David Tyree who used his helmet in conjunction with hands to convert a first down.” The play, called by some as “The Elusive Reception” had that “OH MY GOSH” factor seldom seen with a championship at stake. Despite being heralded as the greatest teams of all-time prior to their championship games, New England and USC can each take solace in knowing that they are the greatest team not to win a championship in their respective sports. They will be remembered, but not for the reasons they were expected to.

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