Were you to remake a 1980s underdog movie, Trevor Knight sure seems more like a Billy Zabka or Ted McGinley than Ralph Macchio or Robert Carradine.
Classic good looks. A celebrity ex-girlfriend and a pop-singer admirer. Star quarterback of the best football team in Texas. None of those credentials scream underdog.
And yet, Trevor Knight and his Texas A&M teammates head into Saturday’s matchup with Alabama playing the role of the Tri-Lambs to the Crimson Tide’s Alpha Betas. Las Vegas pegs ‘Bama an 18-point favorite — the kind of line one might expect of a Week 2 pairing of the SEC champs and a Conference USA paycheck opponent, not the undefeated, sixth-ranked team in college football.
Alabama’s heavy-favorite status isn’t without merit. The Crimson Tide’s lopsided wins over a suddenly surging USC, nationally ranked Arkansas and their deconstruction of Top 10 Tennessee just last week suggest Nick Saban has his best team ever.
Conversely, A&M’s been good — a team doesn’t reach late October with an unblemished record if it isn’t — but escaped a few dog fights. The Aggies went to overtime with Tennessee a week before the Tide rolled, and their Week 1 defeat over UCLA loses luster as fast as ‘Bama’s beatdown of USC gains prestige.
So yeah, Trevor Knight may as well put on a pocket-protector and have the athletic trainers throw tape around the bridge of his glasses. His underdog status is well deserved.
This particular role may seem ill-fitting Knight, but it’s really a sequel. The quarterback’s star rose facing similar circumstances with Oklahoma in the 2014 Sugar Bowl, right down to the Vegas odds.
Alabama went into the Superdome a 17.5-point favorite, which made the Knight-led Sooners the biggest underdog ever to win a BCS game. Yes, even 2007 Boise State — the proverbial Karate Kids of the BCS era — were only 7.5 ‘dogs.
When it comes to sequels, viewers typically hate retreads. Trevor Knight’s no different, downplaying the persistent narrative following A&M in Tuscaloosa. He told the Associated Press:
“It was a long time ago. I’m not even at the same school anymore. They talk about it’s me and I guess (Mississippi’s) Chad Kelly are the two teams that have beaten Alabama but again that’s so far in the past that you can’t look into that now.”
Indeed, Knight’s a different player at a different program. That’s a good thing for the Aggies.
The 2014 Sugar Bowl launched him into a spotlight that soon faded. Knight struggled the following season, lost his job to Baker Mayfield, and made his way to College Station.
To that end, Saturday’s affair is less an underdog story for Knight, and more of a redemption tale. Another stellar performance against Alabama validates his decision to finish at Texas A&M. It vindicates head coach Kevin Sumlin, who similarly ascended to the national stage with a defeat of Saban, only to fall into the old hot seat in the subsequent years. It also completely turns the college football landscape on its head.