Howard, Liberty Pull Off Shocking Upsets Against UNLV, Baylor

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2017

LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 02:  Quarterback Caylin Newton #3 of the Howard Bison runs against the UNLV Rebels during their game at Sam Boyd Stadium on September 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Howard won 43-40. (Photo by David J. Becker/Getty Images)
David J. Becker/Getty Images

Saturday's college football slate was full of surprises, including the Texas Longhorns' loss to Maryland and the Florida Gators' no-show versus the Michigan Wolverines. However, the Howard Bison and Liberty Flames pulled off some of the biggest stunners we may see all season.

The Bison rattled off a 43-40 win over the UNLV Rebels that was buoyed by 330 total yards of offense and three touchdowns from quarterback Caylin Newton—the younger brother of Carolina Panthers signal-caller Cam Newton—and made history in the process.

According to Pregame's RJ Bell, the Bison—who were 45-point underdogs—pulled off the biggest point-spread upset in college football history by stunning the Rebels in Sin City.

The Flames, meanwhile, marched into Waco, Texas, and shocked the Baylor Bears with a 48-45 win at McLane Stadium.

ESPN College Football noted the magnitude of the upsets:

The Bison trailed by 12 points with 6:45 remaining in the third quarter, but Newton refused to let them go quietly.

After closing out the frame by leading Howard on a 14-play, 75-yard drive that was punctuated by a three-yard Anthony Philyaw touchdown run, the Bison tacked on another score less than three minutes later when Philyaw plowed into the end zone for his second score of the game.

Lexington Thomas helped vault the Rebels back ahead 40-36 with a short three-yard touchdown run, but it was Newton who saved the day when he hit pay dirt from four yards out with 7:34 remaining in regulation.

At that point, all the pressure was on the Bison defense to stand tall—and it did just that.

Liberty, on the other hand, didn't need to play from behind late.

Despite Baylor's best efforts to trim the deficit, it simply couldn't contain the FCS challengers with the result hanging in the balance.

That's because Liberty quarterback Stephen Calvert, who went 44-of-60 for 447 yards and three touchdowns, connected with Spencer Jones on a 26-yard score to help put the Flames back up by 10 points with 6:12 left.

The Bears cut the lead to three 72 seconds later, but their last-gasp attempt to stave off an upset of epic proportions was halted when backup quarterback Zach Smith came in for the game's final pass and was intercepted.

Safe to say, that's likely not how head coach Matt Rhule saw his debut going.