The United States and Germany square off in just a few hours. All the US needs is a draw to move on to the knockout stage, and a win would actually give the Americans the group for on the second time in their world cup history. All of the odds say the United States has the second best chance of any team in the group to move forward. However, sports can throw a curveball, just like the Portugal game. What follows are my last two gut punch losses of the last few years.
November 20, 2010: #13 Arkansas 38, #22 Mississippi State 31, 2OT
I'll never forget the shock I felt when Mississippi State lost this game. I sat in my living room completely floored because in the span of about an hour, it looked like Mississippi State would lose, then win, then they finally lost.
To set the stage, both teams controlled the game with their offense, and the Bulldogs absolutely pounded the football that night. To that point, Mississippi State ran 100 offensive plays in the game, and they ran the ball on 70 of those plays.
At the half, Arkansas held a 21-17 lead, and they scored the first ten points of the second half to take a 31-17 lead. Mississippi State stormed back as time ticked down. Vick Ballard scored with under five minutes to play, and the Bulldogs' defense recovered a fumble with under two minutes to play to give the team a final chance to win or tie. Derek DePasquale hit a 25-yard field goal as time expired to send the game to overtime with momentum firmly behind the Bulldogs.
In overtime, it looked like Mississippi State would not be denied. On the fourth play of overtime, Ballard looked as if he would score, but he ended up fumbling the ball into the end zone, turning it over to Arkansas.
The Mississippi State defense again answered the call, holding the Razorbacks to a three and out, and Arkansas could not convert the field goal attempt. However, in the second overtime, Arkansas picked up a touchdown, and the Bulldogs could not answer.
While the game was far from assured had Ballard scored, the way the defense had played down the stretch makes one think the Bulldogs could have had win that night.
September 14, 2013: Auburn 24, Mississippi State 20
What is it about close, gut-wrenching losses to Auburn teams that come out of nowhere to play for the national title? The Tigers looked horrid in 2012, but coming into this matchup with Mississippi State, they were 2-0.
The way the game started, one had to feel as if some strange ending would be in store. Auburn put the first points on the board with a field goal, and they expanded their lead to 11-0 after scoring a touchdown ( on a long pass play after a fumbled snap) and a two-point conversion. Mississippi State attempted to answer, scoring a touchdown, but they failed on the two-point try for the typical 11-6 score to end the first quarter.
The second quarter saw Auburn add a field goal, but Mississippi State answered with a touchdown to tidy the score to a 14-13 Auburn lead.
Mississippi State took its first lead of the game in the second half when Dak Prescott scored just minutes into the the third quarter. An Auburn field goal in the third quarter (set up by a Nick Marshall 37-yard completion to himself) made the score 20-17, and it looked like it might stay that way.
Mississippi State ran a chunk of time off of the clock, but they were not able to run it all off, giving Auburn 1:56 second and 88 yards for the win. Marshall picked up six yards on a carry, and he then completed five straight passes for 55 yards. He then ran for two to give Auburn a first down.
After tossing incompletions on first and second downs, Marshall managed to get eleven yards on the ground on third down to move the chains yet again. After a short run by Tre Mason, Marshall hooked up with C. J. Uzomah for an eleven-yard game winning touchdown pass with ten seconds left.
To add to the cruelty of the score, the play was reviewed, but it was upheld.
That, my friends, was a gut punch.