My definitions of the three, as they relate to college football, are as follows (correct me if I'm too far off):
Party Crasher: A seemingly unknown team that is somehow relevant this season and breaks into the rankings when no one thought they'd be there. A classic example of this is Boise State, almost every year.
Underdog: A team that sucks. That shouldn't even have a chance to win, but they somehow do.
An Upset: Please see USC vs. Washington
Now sometimes I like me an underdog - I was always a big fan of Rudy and everything - but generally speaking, I despise upsets. Who wins in an upset? The cynics? Those who bet against the odds? My friend Chris who loves to see good teams fall?
I like consistency. Good teams are supposed to win, and lousy teams are supposed to be lousy. When good teams play good teams, they battle it out and someone comes away victorious. And when lousy teams play lousy teams, no one cares either way. But how on earth does such a strong team/program like USC throw away a game to such a mediocre/weak team like Washington after beating them by 56 last season? It's beyond me.
I do like it when a game comes down to the wire like this game did; when it all comes down a final field goal kick with seconds left. But it's USC! USC and Pete Carroll have been Pac10 champs (or co-champions) for the last 7 years in a row. What kind of collapse does it take to lose to a team that was 0-12 last year?
Let me tell you. While listening to KTAR 620 AM yesterday, I heard Gambo and Ash referring to coaches Bob Stoops and Jim Tressel and their ability to choke in big games. I think Pete Carroll's problem is his ability to choke in small games. They were coming off a big win against Ohio State the week before, and I'm not sure if it was complacency, or conceitedness, or what, but Coach Carroll did not have his team mentally prepared for last week's game against Washington. The thing is, if this were a one time occurrence, no one would be talking about it, but the Trojans have done this three years in a row. Last year they were ranked no. 1 when they lost to a one hit wonder Oregon St. team. The year before that, it was Stanford knocking them off in week 6, and the year before that they lost to Oregon St.
Was it really all coach Carroll's fault? Sure there was some sloppy play by the offense - some fumbles, some bad passes - and sure they were playing a back-up, freshman quarterback, But I think that a football program as strong as USC should be able to handle a Washington team that won zero games last year.
But if the Trojans blow these small games each year, and still go on to be Pac10 champ every year, do these small losses have any relevance? Maybe not. But it does change a couple things? 1) A win against 3rd ranked USC was good enough to bump Washington into the top 25 AP poll. Good for you Washington, let's see how long you can stay there. More importantly: 2) It gives Cal an opening at a chance to sneak in and take the Pac10 this year. Cal has a darn good team, and probably the best running back in the country. If they can knock off USC when they play in two weeks, they could have a chance to run the table in the Pac10.
In truth, I don't really like USC. ASU's my team, and they get beat every year by USC. But more than I dislike USC (it's more of a grudge really), I despise upsets. Let the good teams' losses come at the hands of better teams, not lucky teams. That's all.