The Top 10 American Sports Upsets of All-Time
They stun their opponents, they shock those who witness, and they dazzle in the spotlight. Throughout the history of American sports, much like our spirit, we see the underdog rise up and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Sometimes it can be as monumental as David beating Goliath or as subtle as taking your opponent's king in a game of chess. What all these moments have in common is heart and the will to win triumph over talent alone.
Without any ado or controversy, the 10 greatest upsets in American sports history.
No. 10: 1960 World Series
The New York Yankees were a dominant machine in the 1950's and '60's. Their rosters didn't fill out all-star teams; they looked more like ballots for Cooperstown.
Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, and Co. outscored the Buccos 55-27 and out homered them 10-4. To make matters worse, they averaged .338 compared to Pittsburgh's .256 BA.
Bill Mazeroski's game winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 helped make it one of the most memorable in baseball history.
The originally section of the wall of Forbes Field where "Maz" aced the game-winner has been moved and preserved in the outfield of the Pirates' present home at PNC Park.
No. 9: 1955 U.S. Open
Jack Fleck came from the humblest of beginnings en route to orchestrating golf's greatest upset. He was born in Iowa to destitute farmers who would eventually lose their land in the Depression.
Jack was a caddy, a dentist, and an assistant gold pro before joining the Navy in WWII. Shortly after the war, he decided to join the PGA Tour on a full-time basis.
His first victory world come in 1955 when he knocked off the legendary Bob Hogan in a three-hole playoff to win the U.S. Open. He would go on to win two more tour events in his gold career.
No. 8: 1991 NCAA Tournament Semifinal
In 1991, the UNLV men's basketball team were the rebels with a cause. They ran roughshod over Seton Hall in the Elite Eight and prepared to face Duke in the semifinals.
The defending national champion UNLV Runnin' Rebals were heavy favorites heading into March. Duke put on a gritty performance. On defense, Duke double-teamed Johnson all game and limited the National Player of the Year to 13 points. With their offense in neutral, UNLV had to play a half court game.
Still, the explosive Rebel offense opened up the lead to 76-71 lead on a Anderson Hunt layup. But shortly after that, Hunt, their floor leader, fouled out of the game for the first time all season.
A three-point field goal by Bobby Hurley and a three-point play by Thomas Hill tied the score. With 12 seconds left, Christian Laettner made two free throws to make the score 79-77.
Duke's mind-blowing upset propelled them to the final round and a showdown against Kansas. Despite a somewhat flat performance, the Blue Devils won their program's first national championship. After all, it was their year.
No. 7: Rulon Gardner at the 2000 Summer Olympics
Before the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, no one had every heard of Rulon Gardner.
The favorite to win Greco-Roman wrestling gold was Alexander Karelin of Russia. In 13 years, he had not lost a single international match.
Rulon Gardner was an afterthought when his name was mentioned. He was too fat, too slow, and not as skilled as his opponent.
How could anyone expect him to beat a man who had last lost a match when the Soviet Union still existed? (It was beginning to sound a lot like Rocky IV.)
When the showdown final happened, Gardner exemplified heart by pouring sweat, pounding for air to take down the mighty "Siberian Bear" as he was known in his country.
As he left the ring, Gardner placed his shoes in the center of the ring, shed a single tear and walked off the mat as he waved to the crowd. The gold was his. For his performance, he was chosen as the U.S. flag bearer for the closing ceremonies.
No. 6: 1985 NCAA Tournament Championship
Georgetown was America's Team in the 1980's when the NCAA bracket expanded and college basketball's popularity was taking on a life of its own, Outlets from Sports Illustrated to rap music videos featured the Hoyas.
Just like with before, defending national champions going up against the little guy. Villanova, a private Catholic school from eastern Pennsylvania, was the clear cut surprise of the tournament.
Everyone knew Georgetown was going to be the first team to repeat since UCLA. How could they not with future pros like Patrick Ewing, Reggie Williams, and David Wingate?
In the upset of college basketball, No. 8 Villanova shot 78.6 percent for the game to shock top seeded Georgetown, 66-64.
Years later, controversy stirred when cocaine use by players allegations surfaced. Whatever happened to Wheaties as the breakfast of champions?
No. 5: Buster Douglas KO's Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson—many things come to mind when his name is uttered.
In his early days, he was known as the young knockout kid who rose to the ranks as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. But heavy is the head that wears the crown.
Douglas' mother passed away 23 days before the fight. In true underdog fashion, Buster proved that it's not the size of the dog in the fight but fight in the dog. He seemingly hit Tyson at will with powerful jabs and right hands and skillfully danced out of range of Tyson's own punches.
The two slugged it out for 10 rounds, with Mike Tyson eventually having his eye swell shut. Towards the end of the round, Tyson was knocked down and could not beat the ref;s count. Douglas was the new heavyweight champion.
One party that did not loose a load of cash on this Vegas fight was Vegas itself. Only one betting parlor held odds for the bout.
No. 4: Super Bowl XLII
David Tyree earned a spot in the hearts of all New Yorkers with his theatrical play in Super Bowl XLII. However, his infamous helmet catch is one of the greatest plays in NFL history that almost never happened.
Driving to give the Giants the lead in the fourth quarter, Eli Manning was nearly dragged down by Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour. Barely evading the sack, Manning heaved the ball downfield to David Tyree in coverage.
Due to pressure, Tyree wasn't able to run his route and made the only attempt he had to catch it by leaping up high. He caught the ball with both hands but ended up pressing the ball to his helmet with only one hand as Patriots defender Rodney Harrison attempted to strip it loose.
The drive concluded with a touchdown that would give the Giants the lead for good and the championship. Tyree was released by the Giants a season later but certainly left his mark. Lifetime invite to the Playboy mansion didn't hurt either.
No. 3: 2007 NBA Playoffs
Golden State Warrior fans declared "We Believe," but did anyone else? The Dallas Mavericks had the league's best record and were the favorites to win the whole thing.
Warriors, come out to play-yay!!!
Game 1: The Mavs lost at home by 12 points, don't worry; they won the next one by 13 points.
The next two games in Oakland were taken handily by the lowest seed in the conference. With pressure mounting, Dallas needed their 118-112 Game 5 win to stay alive.
The series was 3-2 Warriors going into Game 6 in Oakland. Golden State was on the verge of staging the biggest upsets in NBA playoff history.
Built off a third-quarter 18-0 run, the Warriors never looked back enroute to knocking off the NBA's best team.
Golden State became the first No. 8 seeded team to win a best-of-seven series in the first round, and just third overall in the NBA.
No. 2: 2007 Appalachian State vs. No. 5 Michigan
Just like before, defending national champions defeated by the other team? Not if said national champion is from 1-AA and they actually beat college football's winningest program.
It may sound cliche, but Appalachian State literally didn't have a prayer.
They were just another cupcake on the fifth-ranked Michigan Wolverines out of conference schedule before making a run at the BCS championship.
Mike Hart rushed in for a touchdown just 2:30 into the game and that's pretty much how the day was supposed to go.
It soon became apparent that Mountaineers QB Armanti Edwards could match anything Michigan threw up on the scoreboard. At halftime, App State lead 28-17.
Michigan fought back to 32-31 in the Wolverines' favor. However, a Julian Rauch field goal put Appalachian State back on top 34-32 with only 1:11 left in regulation. This set the stage for a heart-pounding finish to the very last second.
Michigan set up for a potential game winning field goal with 0:06 seconds left on the clock. The attempt was blocked by Corey Lynch, who ran the blocked ball down to the Michigan five-yard-line as time expired. ASU became the first 1-AA team to beat a nationally ranked opponent.
No. 1: The Miracle on Ice
Could it have been any other moment that deserved the title of greatest upset ever?
A group of mangy American college kids who defeated the mighty Soviet hockey team, professionals in name only.
The American coach, Herb Brooks, was more military tactition than X & O strategist. He forced the team to gel together by giving them a common enemy, him.
The U.S. team wasn't the most talented at the 1980 Winter Olympics but they were the most conditioned.
The Soviets played hockey like it was their only purpose, mainly because it was! The communist government controlled them and had their only purpose be to compete and win.
The game was intense mentally and physically. The Soviet coach benched Vladislav Tretiak, the best goalie in the world, after a 2-2 score. The final score read 4-3 and was greeted with an eruption of fanfare in the arena.
Names like Craig, McClanahan, and Eruzione echoed throughout the hockey world when they won Olympic gold two days later when they beat Finland.
All they needed was a little motivation as Brooks said before the game, "If you lose this game, you'll take it to your [expletive] graves."