After the party, beware the college football hangover

 After the party, beware the college football hangover
Mississippi quarterback Bo Wallace is carried off the field by fans after a 23-17 upset win over Alabama on Saturday. (Bruce Newman / Associated Press)

You never see it after a regular-season NFL game — not even in the South.

If San Francisco loses at Atlanta in October, no merry mob of celebrators rips the goal posts down and parades them past City Hall. The governor does not issue a congratulatory proclamation that sounds like the ratification of the Constitution.


You see it all the time in college football. You saw it last Saturday.

The state of Mississippi enjoyed one of the greatest days in its history.

"I think you're always hearing about what Mississippi is last in," Mississippi State Coach Dan Mullen said, summing it up perfectly.

Double-shot home wins last weekend provided the state a much-needed psyche boost.

Victories by Mississippi over Alabama and Mississippi State over Texas A&M lifted the schools into a tie for third in this week's Associated Press media poll.

The highs and lows in college sports are extreme, enjoyed and suffered across state, cultural, economic and geopolitical lines.

In 1965, Georgia players returned to Athens as conquering heroes after winning at Michigan. "It was as if we had a chance to go to Gettysburg again," Georgia Coach Vince Dooley famously said.

The NFL is built for parity and fairness — the ideal is that everyone finishes 8-8. Its annual draft replenishes the worst teams with the top incoming players.

College football is built on ruthless unfairness. Before scholarship caps, the most powerful schools would sign players just to keep them away from opponents.

The gush of new television money flows into half the conferences at the expense of the other half.

It is finally helping schools like Mississippi, which is fortunate to belong to the powerful Southeastern Conference, to fight back against years of Alabama oppression.

No wonder Saturday's win over Alabama, after 10 straight losses, sent the students storming.

The goal posts at both ends were dismantled and carried through the streets of Oxford, then cut up and sold for souvenirs.

Similar joy in Starkville, home of Mississippi State, prompted Gov. Phil Bryant to declare Oct. 4, 2014, "Football Celebration Saturday."

Up next could be what's known in the college game as "The Massive Hangover."

For this reason we are issuing immediate upset warnings for Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Arizona.

Arizona is still lathering in its upset at Oregon. The 5-0 Wildcats went from unranked to No. 10 in the AP poll.

Las Vegas, king of the hangover, has obviously studied the historical tendencies. How else would you explain oddsmakers making USC (3-2) a 2 1/2–point favorite this week at Tucson?

Mississippi has to regroup and refocus for a trip to Texas A&M, which will be highly motivated after losing at Mississippi State.

"You don't get to acknowledge the great victories very long in this profession," Mississippi Coach Hugh Freeze said.

Mississippi State emerged from its celebration daze knowing it next hosts No. 2 Auburn.

It is uncanny how often the hangover has been a buzz kill.

It not only happened twice to Notre Dame, it happened twice with the same two schools.

In 1993, Notre Dame's epic victory against Florida State in South Bend vaulted the Irish to No. 1 in the polls with a clear path to the national title. However, Notre Dame lost a week later to Boston College, allowing Florida State to win a national title that is hotly disputed in South Bend.

In 2002, fast-rising Notre Dame defeated Florida State in Tallahassee to improve to 8-0. The next week, the Irish returned home to face an ordinary Boston College team. Notre Dame Coach Tyrone Willingham made the colossal blunder of ordering his players to dress in green jerseys, usually reserved for special occasions.

Notre Dame fumbled seven times, losing three, and got stained on its home grass. Willingham's pregame decision, it turned out, did motivate players.

"Our kids were excited when they saw the green jerseys," Boston College Coach Tom O'Brien said.

The hangover can also be contagious — Boston College lost its next game to West Virginia.

In 1998, four-touchdown-underdog Temple upset Virginia Tech in one of college football's greatest upsets.

Temple followed with a loss to Rutgers.

In 2007, 40-plus-point underdog Stanford pulled off an unfathomable upset over Pete Carroll's USC Trojans at the Coliseum.

Stanford lost the next week, at home, to Texas Christian.

TCU has been on the other side too.

The Horned Frogs opened 2005 with a monumental upset at seventh-ranked Oklahoma and whooped it up all the way to a loss the next week at Southern Methodist.

In 2008, home-team Oregon State handed USC its only defeat of the season, and then lost to Utah.

The same season, Mississippi stunned Florida in Gainesville. Florida recovered to win the national title, but Ole Miss lost its next game to South Carolina.

We're not saying Mississippi, Mississippi State and Arizona are all locks to lose this weekend on the rebound. We're saying hangovers happen too often to be coincidence.

The cure is staying humble and focused — and sweating out the toxins in practice.

Watch out alert: Notre Dame faces defending national champion Florida State a week from Saturday in Tallahassee.

A victory would spread joy throughout South Bend and catapult the Irish into the championship chase.

The good news is Boston College no longer occupies the schedule spot after Florida State.

This year's possible hangover candidate is Navy.