They say death and taxes are certain in life. And for the college football fan, you can add another sure thing: many schools will play opponents known in the sports world as cupcakes or patsies.
The winners in this scenario are the two schools that schedule each other. The loser in this scenario is the fans.
First the winners.
Big-time school schedules little-time school for various reason. One, it figures fans will fill the stadium regardless of the opponent. Second, they want easy wins to pad the post-season resume. National championship opportunities and/or big bowl games come to mind. Third, the coach can rest his first-stringers and take a hard look at some bench players. It's also good for team morale.
Little-time school receives large pay from big-time school to play in front of thousands of people. It helps fund little-time athletic program for the entire season. Can you say women's golf and men's bowling? Second, playing big-time school helps recruiting athletically and in the general student population. It looks good in a brochure. Editorial note: just don't mention the final score.
There are risks involved here too. Little-time school might actually upset big-time school. For example, check Minnesota and Michigan's past schedules. If the upset does occur, big-time school will not become a gracious host and invited little-time school back for another game. Little-time school's risk is injuries. Big-time school's players are usually bigger, stronger and faster. Little-time school's goal is to get out of town with all limbs and teeth in place.
Now the loser.
Generally, fans will pay full price for this game. There are rare occasions when teams have trouble putting bodies in seats and they discount the tickets for certain games. Second, what fan really wants to see his/her team defeat a directional school 55-0? Imagine bragging to your buddies about that one. Third, instead of spending 4-5hours at that game, the fan could be taking a nap at home on the sofa or watching real games on TV. Fourth, the tailgating isn't as good because the attitude is bad.
Fans do have some solace however. Usually, the cupcakes appear on the front end of the schedule with a few sprinkled during the remainder of the season.
The cupcake season officially starts tonight (Thursday). Check your local schedule for the cupcake nearest you.