Posted: 1:55 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013
It starts as a spark. A tiny neuron in your brain fires off at a speed you can't comprehend, sending a thought to your brain: "If we can just hold Alabama on two or three drives, we might have a chance." That thought, over the course of several days, morphs into a collection of thoughts forming a theory, an idea, a belief.
That belief, for some Ole Miss fans, has grown to be the size of the state housing the flagship school they dispensed off handily just two weeks ago. And why wouldn't Ole Miss fans be believing in their team's chances this Saturday against Alabama? At 3-0, The Rebels are off to a fantastic start. They've taken the gritty team that defied the odds and won seven games last year and they've added in a wealth of talent and depth that could potentially mold them into a solid team for this season. All the stats, the players, and the coaching is there for Ole Miss fans to have spent the last two weeks convincing themselves that they can not only hang with Alabama this Saturday night in Tuscaloosa, but that they can beat the #1 Tide.
Here, however, lies the problem.
See, I'm coming to you guys and girls in powder blue and red not from a place of mockery or rival ya-ya taunting. I am coming from a place of experience, and a painful experience at that. You see last season, I too let myself board the belief train heading into the Alabama game. Mississippi State was 7-0 and ranked in the top 15. Sure our wins were against mediocre at best opponents, but we were still 7-0. Didn't that mean something? Couldn't it just have been that we were really good, we just were dealt a crappy schedule? As the week grew long in the tooth, I began to let myself get swept up in the surge of positivity coming from Starkville. I began to convince myself that maybe this was finally our season. Maybe on Saturday night, that team of 22 in maroon and white could go into the lion's den, and garner a win. Maybe we could defy all odds, and David would slay Goliath.
But what they don't tell you in that inspiring Bible story is that years before David took on Goliath, dozens of men like Peter, Paul, Pete, and Randy all tried to slay Goliath too. And all were cast violently to their death just after coming to the realization that sometimes the giant does win. Actually, the giant wins often. That's why David's tale is so inspiring after all. And as I sat there that October Saturday night as Alabama scored time and time again, I realized that my belief had all been for naught, and that this night would belong to Goliath.
Now I'm not telling you to cast this game completely aside, Rebel fans. I'm not telling you to take a position of apathy, or one of negativity. I'm not even comparing your 2013 squad to ours from 2012. Not in the least. All I'm saying to you is this: be careful. Guard yourself from those around you who have already thrown caution to the wind, and have accepted nothing less than an Ole Miss victory as Saturday's outcome. While it's important that you do remain optimistic for a win, it's also important that you stay grounded in the facts. And those facts, as MSU and dozens of other teams have found out the hard way over the last several seasons, point to the realization that Alabama is about as close to a perfect team as we'll get in college football. Not only are they talented too, but they're coached to remained poised under pressure. Just ask Texas A&M.;
So what should you take from this? Well, you can choose to take nothing if you want. I only offer this truly as words of advice from someone who has been there. Get excited about Saturday night. Hope that your team plays Alabama like you did last year, because you played them maybe the best of anyone in 2012, save for Texas A&M.; But as Thursday turns into Friday turns into Saturday, make sure that you remember that Alabama is Alabama. Belief is a good thing, but like alcohol, ice cream and acid wash jeans, it's best in moderation. The more you believe, the higher you build yourself up and your confidence in your team. That also means the fall could/would be farther too. Trust me, no one knows it better than the MSU fans of 2012. Don't let yourselves be knocked harshly down from the high mountaintop of confidence. Stay grounded, stay positive, and just hope for the best.
Now that I've said all this, you guys will win. Just watch.