College Football's Most Surprising Game Results from 2008

Sean Martin@SaturdaysGameCorrespondent IJuly 9, 2009


We all love upsets. That is, unless the team that loses is the one we are rooting for.

Every week each season, there appears to be a game that makes us scratch our head and say, "What the...?"

After reviewing all the games played during the 2008 season, I picked out eighteen that blew my mind. Whether it was a shocking upset or the score just happened to be confusing, all these games more likely than not made someone stop and ponder for a bit.

I present to you,

"The Most Surprising Game Results From 2008"


Vanderbilt 24, South Carolina 17

Since 2003, Vanderbilt had posted a 1-18 record against ranked teams, the lone victory coming in 2007 at South Carolina. If the Commodores were to win a game, it would be against the Gamecocks, right? As nine point favorites, USC was currently ranked No. 24, and coming of an impressive 34-0 win against the Wolfpack of North Carolina State.

Vanderbilt was 1-0, with a win over Miami (OH). The game was stationed  in Columbia, yet USC dropped it. The Commodores started out 5-0, but finished a respectable 7-6 with a 16-14 Music City Bowl victory over Boston College, their first bowl win since 1955.


Ole Miss 31, Florida 30

Florida was No. 4 in the country, and was playing at The Swamp (they were 19-1 under Meyer at home, the lone loss a 17-20 miscue against Auburn in 2007). Florida had outscored their opponents 112-19 in their first three games, while the Rebels were 2-2, losing to Wake Forest and Vanderbilt and beating Memphis and FCS Southern Conference doormat, Samford. The Rebels were lined to be killed.

Florida were 22 point favorites. So, of course, the Gators lost their only game of the season. Ole Miss dropped their next two, but finished No. 14 in the country with a 9-4 record and an impressive 47-34 Cotton Bowl victory over No. 8 Texas Tech.


Wyoming 13, Tennessee 7

Tennessee was an awful 3-6, with wins coming against UAB, Northern Illinois and Mississippi State. But to lose to Wyoming, well that’s just embarrassing. Wyoming came into the game with the same record, only against much weaker competition. Their wins were against Ohio, North Dakota State and San Diego State.

Although Tennessee was dreadful last season, they had enough solid recruits where they should have won the game. Oh yeah, it was in Knoxville, too. But nonetheless, the Cowboys held off the Volunteers for their fourth and final win on the 2008 season, and helped put the Mountain West Conference on the map.

Navy 24, Wake Forest 17

Navy had been 0-5 against ranked teams since 2003. Wake Forest was 3-0 and ranked No. 16 in the nation. The game was a home game for the Demon Deacons, and they were 16 point favorites. The Midshipmen were 2-2 with a win over Towson and a loss to Duke. The Demon Deacons were primed to walk all over Navy, but as fate would have it, Wake Forest lost. The two met for an end-of-year rematch in the EagleBank Bowl, which WF won 29-19.


Maryland 14, Delaware 7 | Middle Tennessee State 24, Maryland 14 | Maryland 35, California 27

What a rollercoaster ride.

Maryland opened the season at College Park against a FCS team without their hero, Joe Flacco. There wasn’t even a line for the game. And win Maryland did, but not in a usual fashion. Despite Delaware finishing as the FCS runner-up in 2007, it is always difficult to grasp a BCS school losing to a FCS school.

The following week, Maryland lost a game to MTSU. The Blue Raiders were coming off a tough loss to fellow Sun Belt native Troy. For the Terrapins to lose to MTSU would be almost as bad, if not worse, as losing to Delaware. MTSU had previously been 0-7 against BCS schools under Rick Stockstill. Maryland finished the season 8-5, and MTSU went on to a 5-7 season, and without another impressive victory.

After almost losing to a FCS school at home and dropping a game to a Sun Belt team, Maryland was in position to be made a fool of by California. The Golden Bears scored 104 points in their first two games, while giving up 34. They entered 14 point favorites and the No. 23 team in the nation. Although the game was played at 9:00 am PST, the Golden Bears were still favored. Maryland torched California's defense for 35 points, and sent them home losers.


East Carolina 27, Virginia Tech 22

Despite the game being played in Charlotte, Virginia Tech was 9.5 point favorites, and had been 11-1 in season openers (13-24 loss to No. 1 USC in 2004) the past twelve years. The Hokies were No. 17 in the country, the Pirates unranked. East Carolina played solid defense and good special teams, their strongest units, and put the Hokies down, one of only 4 losses during a solid 10-4 year. East Carolina went on to beat No. 8 WVU handily the following week, 24-3 in another shocking game.


Oregon State 27, USC 21

This game kept USC from being in the BCS National Championship. The Rodgers brothers broke onto the national scene in this stunning upset. Favored by 25 points, USC was ranked No. 1 at the time, having outscored Virginia and Ohio State 87-10 in their first two games. OSU went up 21-0 at half, and barely escaped with the victory.


BYU 59, UCLA 0

The previous week, UCLA came off an improbable 27-24 victory against then No. 18 Tennessee in OT. Unranked, they traveled to new No. 18 BYU, looking for another upset win. Max Hall felt different. BYU absolutely clobbered UCLA, with Hall tossing seven touchdowns in three quarters of play. The 59 point difference was the most for UCLA since 1929. Ouch.


UNLV 23, Arizona State 20

At the beginning of the 2008 season, many people felt Arizona State could give USC a run for their money, and challenge for the Pac-10 title. They won their first two games by a combined score of 71-30, were ranked No. 15 in the nation and were 24 point favorites over UNLV.

Omar Clayton was fantastic for the Rebels last season, and ASU was no exception. UNLV prospered in OT in Tempe, knocking the wind out of the Sun Devils for the year. ASU went on to lose their next five games.


Stanford 58, Washington State 0

Stanford hadn’t scored this many points since they played San Jose State in 2002. They hadn’t shut out a team since the 1996 Sun Bowl against Michigan State. The Cardinal was 4-4 at the time, and were actually 30 point favorites over Washington State.

The cougars were having arguably one of the worst college football seasons in recent memory. They had given up 60+ points four times already on the season, with their lone victory coming against Portland State. No one doubted Stanford would win, but by 58 points…come on.


Bowling Green 27, Pittsburgh 17

Pittsburgh had recent success in season openers (10 of 12 were wins). They were ranked No. 25 to start the year, with Bowling Green coming to town. As 13 point favorites, Pitt dropped the game 17-27 prompting many questions regarding Wannstedt’s hiring, mainly because he finally had all his recruits starting. The Panthers had all-world back LeSean McCoy, and BGSU’s defense gave 208 yards per game on the ground in 2007. Naturally, Pittsburgh only mustered 17 points at home against a very week MAC defense.


Kentucky 27, Louisville 2

With the loss of All-SEC quarterback Andre Woodson, as well as six other offensive starters, UK didn’t know where to turn. Louisville was 7-2 against the Wildcats since 1999. The Cardinals had what most people thought was one of the better passing games in the country. But at home, they couldn’t manage any offensive points. Neither team was ranked, but UL was 3 point favorites. Kentucky topped 27 points only three more times last year.


Houston 70, Tulsa 30

At 8-1, No. 25 Tulsa was favored over 5-4 Houston. Everyone knew this was going to be an incredible display of offense (the two starting quarterbacks in Case Keenum and David Johnson combined for 100 total touchdowns on the year), but no one figured it would be so lopsided.

In 2008, the teams had combined to top 35 points per game fourteen times prior to their meeting. The 30 points scored by Tulsa was actually the lowest amount they had scored so far on the year, and only one more time did they drop below 38 (their loss to East Carolina).

Toledo 13, Michigan 10

This game could possibly be the most shocking. Toledo entered the game with a record of 1-4. They were playing 2-3 Michigan in Ann Arbor as 16 point underdogs. Michigan was embarrassed and lost a close game, as their offense was absolutely stymied. What is even more embarrassing is that the Rockets finished the year on a 1-5 stretch after playing the Wolverines. Never before had the teams faced, and Toledo was riding an eight game losing streak against BCS schools.


Buffalo 42, Ball State 24

At 12-0, Ball State was making their case to play for a BCS bowl game. They were No. 12 in the nation, playing for the MAC Championship against a lucky 7-5 Buffalo team. The MAC Champion was bound to come from the West Division (CMU, WMU and Ball State had very solid seasons).

As 15 point favorites, the Cardinals and All-MAC quarterback Nate Davis folded to four year starter Drew Willy and the Bulls. Ball State went on to play in the GMAC Bowl against Tulsa, and was rocked 45-13, cementing every piece of doubt as to their validity as a BCS buster.


Arkansas State 18, Texas A&M 14

The Red Wolves were 0-14 against BCS schools under Steve Roberts. Arkansas State was 19 point underdogs, playing at College Station. With an offense stacked with talent in Mike Goodson, Stephen McGee and Jorvorskie Lane, the Aggies were more than likely to score some serious points on ASU.

But the Red Wolves held them to just 14 points as TAMU had a miserable season under first year coach Mike Sherman. TAMU hadn’t lost to a non-BCS school since they played No. 20 Utah at Utah in 2004, a game where they were actually underdogs.



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