I suppose at some point in time I'm going to have to give in and start believing that the Missouri Tigers really are a good football team, and that they should win against pretty much whatever team they're playing against in a given week.
Unfortunately, I have no idea when that time is finally going to come.
It's really strange. It doesn't seem to matter how good the Tigers look on paper, how many yards and points the offense is racking up per game, I never feel good about Mizzou's chances. Ever. They were an obviously superior team to Nebraska, yet I was utterly certain that the Tigers would somehow find a way to lose at Lincoln this past weekend.
This team is a national powerhouse, in every sense of the word. They beat the good teams, they beat the bad teams. It doesn't seem to matter who they're matched up against anymore; if the scoreboard says MU, the point total is going to look more like that of a college basketball contest than your typical football game. Still, it just feels like I should still be waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Maybe it's sort of a version of Stockholm Syndrome. All those years of hearing, each fall, that this was the season that the Tigers move back into national prominence. Then, of course, comes the loss to Dead Armadillo State University the second week of the season, followed by a 3-5 record in the Big Twelve. Well, okay, maybe not this year, but definitely next season. There was some stuff to really build on out there this year. Next year will be different. Never mind that you're a hostage; don't you just love this team?
And it still feels that way to me. Every single week, no matter how much better the Tigers should be than their opponent, I still keep waiting for them to turn back into, well, the Tigers. So what if Nebraska isn't ranked nationally and can't stop the passing game to save their lives? Mizzou hasn't won in Lincoln in 30 years. The 'Huskers are a team that's on the rise, headed back toward their own glory days. I can see the defeat coming.
Ho hum. Another five touchdown margin of victory. And technically, it should have been six, if not for a heave with no time left on the clock.
So now I look forward to Oklahoma State, and I'm utterly sure that the Tigers are going to suffer the letdown this week. OSU is ranked 21 nationally; the Tigers should be able to take them down easily. But look at how badly the Mizzou secondary got exposed against Nebraska! Oklahoma State is going to gash them in the air all day long. By the time the Tigers get to Texas, their national title hopes are going to be long gone. Man, this sucks.
You know what the only good thing about all of this is? I'm finally beginning to have some sympathy for Cub fans. See, all of my life, I've been a Cardinal fan. We expect good things to happen. It seems like the next big winning streak is just around the corner. I've never experienced that constant feeling of dread, that expectation that something, anything, is going to go wrong at any moment. Watching the Tigers as they've climbed the ranks of college football, though, I think I understand a little bit of what it must be like for fans of Chicago baseball. Always waiting, no matter how good your team seems, for the other shoe to drop. Maybe, just maybe, following Mizzou will bring me some wisdom, and some empathy. Maybe the Tigers will make me a better person.
On balance, though, I would have to say I prefer the confidence. Empathy sucks.