Last night, after witnessing a Super Bowl that rivals any I've seen, I realized that Glendale, AZ has been particularly kind to "underdogs". For some reason, when they face their opponent in University of Phoenix Stadium things come together and they pull out an improbable victory.
2007 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Boise State entered the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma as 8.5 point underdogs, but many people thought they would have a difficult time even covering that. However, the Broncos built an 18 point lead early in the third quarter, and then were able to hold off the Sooners in overtime after a big comeback. If nothing else, we all remember the "Statue of Liberty" play that Boise State used to successfully convert a 2 point attempt for the overtime win. It was an amazing ending to an improbable underdog victory.
2007 BCS Championship Game
Just a week after the Fiesta Bowl, another team entered as an 8 point underdog, and had seemingly been written off by many people before the game even began. The Florida Gators took on the Ohio State Buckeyes, and used what they perceived as a lack of respect to motivate them for four quarters of football. While a number of "experts" appeared ready to hand Jim Tressel and his Buckeyes the BCS title, the Florida Gators destroyed their underdog status enroute to a 41-14 win.
2008 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
For the second year in a row, the Oklahoma Sooners entered the Fiesta Bowl as the team favored to win. They faced a West Virginia team that had lost their head coach just 16 days before the game, and were 6.5 point underdogs. The Mountaineers paid no attention to their underdog tag, and blasted the Sooners by a score of 48-28.
Super Bowl XLII
Possibly the best illustration of an underdog achieving success in University of Phoenix Stadium. The New York Giants came into the game as 12 point underdogs, but the divide between them and the New England Patriots was supposedly much greater than that. The Patriots had finished the regular season a perfect 16-0, and defeated their two playoff opponents to push that to 18-0. Now, they were all but guaranteed to win the Super Bowl, and become only the second team in NFL history to finish the season undefeated and win the championship game. They had Brady, Belichick, Moss and a host of others, and they had already beaten the Giants in the regular season. However, the Giants, like the championship teams before them, dismissed their underdog label and pulled off what many believed to be impossible just hours before the clock ticked down to zero. They defeated the might Patriots by a score of 17-14, and added to the idea that University of Phoenix Stadium is a place where the underdog can achieve the unimaginable.