The 50 Greatest Upsets in College Football History

Ryne HodkowskiAnalyst IOctober 24, 2011

The 50 Greatest Upsets in College Football History

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    The greatest facet of college football is the omnipresent threat of an upset.  No other sport can match the amount of upsets that college football produces, nor the magnitude of the upsets.

    In baseball, the best teams still lose close to 40 percent of their games.  The NBA rarely produces a favorite of more than 14 points, and in the NFL, even when the best plays the worst, the spread is no more than 17 points. 

    In college football, we routinely see games in the high 20s and 30s as far as point spreads are concerned, and several times, those underdogs come away with wins.

    We as a society are constantly trying to figure things out and trying to predict the outcomes of games.  We feel secure and happy when an "expert" on ESPN picks our team to win, yet we know that he is no more responsible for the outcome of the game than we are.  Even after we watch and hear everyone's prediction, we love nothing more than when every prediction we hear is wrong, and David beats Goliath.

    Here are the 50 greatest upsets in the history of college football.

50. Boise State vs Fresno State 2001

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    How did we get to where we are today?  How has Boise been able to consistently find themselves in the top 10 in every national poll and compete for BCS games?  In large part, it started here.

    Before Boise State, there was Fresno State.  Fresno was the little, non-BCS school out West and were known for the mantra Coach Pat Hill gave out: "Anybody, anywhere."

    For years, this worked.  Fresno entered the game ranked eighth in the nation with a 6-0 record.  They already recorded wins in Boulder and Madison and beat Sports Illustrated's preseason No. 1 team, Oregon State.

    Boise entered with just a 3-3 record.  They lost to South Carolina, Washington State and Rice, and this was their first season in the WAC.

    They traveled to Fresno and immediately let the Bulldogs know how the WAC would play out for the next decade.

    David Carr led Fresno to an early 20-7 lead, but Ryan Dinwiddie fought back.  The Broncos put together consecutive scoring drives in the third and allowed only eight more offensive points.

    Late in the fourth, down five, Fresno found themselves with a 3rd-and-6 from the Boise 7.  Instead of putting the ball in the hands of the Heisman hopeful, Fresno ran the ball.  They were smothered, gaining zero yards.  Then, on fourth, a blitz got to Carr, and the Bulldogs couldn't convert.

49. Illinois vs Ohio State 2007

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    Perhaps not the biggest upset as far as point spread (Illinois was 15 point underdogs), but the circumstances and ramifications were huge.  Two years prior at the Horseshoe, Illinois lost 40-2.

    Four Juice Williams touchdown passes put the Illini up 28-21.  After a Todd Boeckman interception, Illinois got the ball back with 8:10 left in the game.

    Illinois proceeded to convert three third downs and a fourth down deep in their own territory to drain the entire eight minutes. Coach Ron Zook originally was going to punt on 4th and inches, but OSU called a timeout, and QB Juice Williams convinced Zook to go for it. 

    The win catapulted the Illini to the Rose Bowl, where they were defeated by USC.  The loss seemed to derail an OSU title chance, but after a string of late upsets in the season, OSU found themselves back in the National Championship game.  They lost to LSU.

    It was the Illini's first win over a No. 1 team on the road. 

48. Arkansas vs Louisiana State 2007

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    As you will see, 2007 was a year notorious for its numerous upsets and constant changing of the top teams.  One could probably make a list such as this and have it feature just games from 2007.

    LSU was already upset earlier in the year at Kentucky.  They entered this game as the No. 1 team in the nation and were 13.5 point favorites.

    Arkansas was no slouch themselves.  They were coming off of a 10-4 year, but some upsets of their own found them sitting at 7-4.  Their entire season came down to their annual rivalry game, the Battle for the Golden Boot.

    Still, the game was at Death Valley, a place where the Tigers had lost only once the previous three years. 

    The game started off even, and stayed that way.  Neither team led by more than eight points the entire game.  Arkansas was able to hold LSU to two early field goals, and then Darren McFadden took over. 

    McFadden rushed for 206 yards, while Peyton Hillis added 89 and Felix Jones added 85. 

    LSU needed a touchdown with less than a minute left to force OT.  In the third OT, Hillis scored the TD while Jones added the two-point conversion.  LSU then scored, but failed the two-point attempt, falling 50-48.

    As was the case with the 2007 season, the improbable happened.  LSU beat Tennessee in the SEC title game the next week, and somehow found themselves in the National Championship game.  They demolished Ohio State and took home the title as a two loss team. 

47. Louisiana-Monroe vs Alabama 2007

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    It was Nick Saban's first season as Tide coach.  They went just 7-6, with a win in the Independence Bowl over Colorado.  In the next three-plus years combined, Alabama hadn't lost six games.

    Growing pains were to be expected.  Still, losing to Louisiana-Monroe at home, as 24.5 point favorites, is another story altogether.

    Alabama was 6-2 and ranked No. 17 just two weeks prior.  Back-to-back losses to LSU and Mississippi State had them at 6-4 and out of SEC West contention.  Downtrodden, they dragged their feet against the Warhawks.

    Alabama turned the ball over four times and lost despite out-gaining ULM 409-282.  A more in-depth play-by-play would be welcomed, but it's been "lost" by's records.

46. Tennessee vs LSU 2001 SEC Championship Game

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    Tennessee came into the game ranked No.2 in the nation and just needed to beat the No. 21 Tigers to advance to the BCS Championship game against Miami.

    A 17-point explosion in the second quarter made it seem as if Tennessee was well on their way.  LSU tightened the screws on defense in the second half, though, and held the Volunteers to just three second half points.  Travis Stephens, who was so effective the week before against Florida, had only 39 rushing yards against the Tigers.

    LSU put up 31 points on just 287 yards.  LSU eventually rolled against Illinois in the Sugar Bowl. 

45. Texas vs Nebraska 1996 Big 12 Championship Game

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    Nebraska had won two straight National Championships, and despite losing early in the season, were primed for another. 

    The inaugural Big 12 title game featured the No. 3 Huskers, and the unranked Texas Longhorns.  The Longhorns were 21-point underdogs (according to Dick Vermeil).  The extra game ended up being detrimental to the Huskers, as they allowed 37 points to Texas.

    The play of the game (seen) came late in the fourth.  Up three and on their own 29, Texas decided to roll the dice on fourth and inches.  Not only did they go for it, but they threw it.  The play went for 61 yards, and Texas went on to win 37-27.

    Had Nebraska won, they would have faced FSU in the Sugar Bowl as the third ranked team.  ASU was ranked No. 2 and ended up losing to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.  Therefore, the Sugar Bowl would have been for the National Title (as it was with Florida). 

44. Notre Dame vs Navy 2009

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    Many point to the 2007 Navy Notre Dame game as the bigger upset in this series.  After all, that was the game that ended ND's 43 game-winning streak over Navy.

    That said, Navy was only three point underdogs to an awful ND team that year.  In 2009, Navy was 12.5 point underdogs against an improved, ranked ND team.

    Notre Dame came into the game 6-2 and ranked No. 19 in the nation.  Navy proceeded to rush for 348 yards and forced three turnovers in the 23-21 upset.

    This set off a string of four straight losses for the Irish.  They finished 6-6 and inexplicably refused to attend a bowl game.  It ended up being one of Coach Charlie Weis' final decisions, as he was fired in the offseason and replaced with current head coach Brian Kelly.

43. USC vs UCLA 2006

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    USC was ranked No. 2 in the nation and was primed to return to the BCS National Championship for the third straight year.  All that stood in the way was a rival UCLA team, a team which USC had beaten seven straight times.

    UCLA shocked the Trojans despite being outgained 329-235.  USC had three drives stall in UCLA territory in the first half.  Finally, down four with 1:10 left, the Trojans faced a 3rd-and-4 from the UCLA 19-yard line.  A John David Booty pass was intercepted by Eric McNeal, sealing the Trojans' fate.

    USC would miss out on facing Ohio State in the National Championship game.  Instead, they beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl, 32-18.  UCLA would go on to lose to Florida State in the Emerald Bowl.

42. Illinois vs Michigan 1924

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    Michigan had won 19 straight games and split the 1923 National Championship (along with Illinois, Cornell and Cal).  Illinois had a relatively unknown player by the name of Red Grange.  The rest is history.

    Grange went to Illinois with the mindset that he would run track and play basketball, but felt he was too small to play football.  His fraternity brothers, the Zeta Psis, convinced him to go out for football. 

    They turned out to be the smartest men on campus.

    In the first game at Memorial Stadium, a facility built to honor the men who served in World War I, Grange returned the opening kickoff for a 95-yard touchdown.  Then, he ran for three more touchdowns in the first quarter, all from long lengths (67, 56, 44).

    His four touchdowns in one quarter were equivalent to the amount of touchdowns Michigan had given up in the previous two seasons!

    Grange finished with six touchdowns, and the Illini won 39-14.  Grange amassed 402 total yards. 

    In a 20-game-career, Grange rushed for 3362 yards, caught 14 passes for 253 yards and threw for 571.  He is just one of two players to have their number retired by the University of Illinois (Dick Butkus, the other).  Grange is widely considered to be the greatest college football player of all time. 

41. Ohio State vs Stanford 1971 Rose Bowl

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    "How about that!?"

    Curt Gowdy called the 1971 Rose Bowl, which saw the No. 2 undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes against the 7-3 Stanford Indians (as they were back then).

    Ohio State was a heavy favorite to win the National Championship (they were No. 1 preseason) and the Rose Bowl.  No. 1 Texas lost to Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl early in the day, and OSU was now in the position to roll the Indians and win the championship.

    No one told that to eventual MVP JIm Plunkett.

    Ohio State's John Brockington and Jack Tatum were neutralized for the most part, as the Indians rolled to a 27-17 upset.  A 10-yard pass from Plunkett to Randy Vataha in the fourth quarter put Stanford up for good.

    Plunkett remains to be the only player to be named Rose Bowl MVP and Super Bowl MVP (XV).  Additionally, he is one of a few players to win the Heisman Trophy, and the Super Bowl MVP.

    No. 3 Nebraska won the Orange Bowl that night, and eventually walked away with the 1971 title.

40. UCLA vs Ohio State 1976 Rose Bowl

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    Ohio State was 15.5 point favorites entering the Rose Bowl as the No. 1 team.  They deserved it; after all, they beat UCLA 41-20 in October in the Coliseum (then UCLA's home stadium).

    Despite the large margin of victory, Woody Hayes was impressed with UCLA.  He prophetically told his team to get ready to face UCLA once again. 

    This was OSU's fourth straight Rose Bowl, as well as the fourth straight for Archie Griffin (until Brian Cushing of USC started four straight, Griffin was the only player to start four straight Rose Bowls).  Griffin was coming off of his second Heisman Trophy, the only player to accomplish such a feat.

    OSU was able to move the ball early, but only put up three points.  At the end of the first half, the score was 3-0 OSU.

    Suddenly, in the third quarter, UCLA exploded for 16 points.  Eventual MVP John Sciarra connected with Wally Henry for two touchdown passes.  UCLA went on to win 23-10.

    Afterwards, Woody Hayes stated "we got outcoached and just got beat."  He may have been right, as the coach of the Bruins was the legendary Dick Vermeil. 

    Oklahoma won the Orange Bowl and took home the national championship.

    This was the final Rose Bowl for Woody Hayes.  He finished 4-4 in the game.

39. Florida vs Tennessee 2001

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    This game was scheduled to take place early in September, but was pushed back due to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.  As a result, it directly preceded the aforementioned Tennessee-LSU SEC Championship.

    This game ultimately decided the SEC East.  Despite both being ranked 9-1 and both being ranked in the top six nationally, Florida was instilled as 17.5 point favorites in the Swamp.

    Travis Stephens rushed for 226 yards on 19 carries, as the Vols shocked Florida.  They had not won in Gainesville in 30 years.

    Following the game, Tennessee lost to LSU in the SEC title game.  In the BCS' infinite wisdom, Florida was chosen to go to the Orange Bowl, where they dismantled Maryland.  Tennessee destroyed Michigan 45-17 in the Citrus Bowl. 

    The game took on extra significance a few months later, when Steve Spurrier announced his resignation.  It was his last regular season game and last game at the Swamp.

38. Kansas State vs Oklahoma 2003 Big 12 Championship Game

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    Oklahoma had not lost all year.  They were No. 1 the entire season.  Unfortunately, no one told Kansas State they were supposed to roll over.

    Oklahoma entered the game as 14-point favorites.  Kansas State entered ranked No. 13 with a 10-3 record.  All things considered, this game shouldn't have been close.

    Oklahoma scored just three minutes into the game.  After that, they didn't score again.

    Kansas State scored 21 in the second quarter.  Then, they outscored Oklahoma 14-0 in the second half.  In the end, the 14-point underdogs won by 28.  KSU outgained the Sooners 519-398.

    KSU advanced to the Fiesta Bowl, where they lost to Ohio State 35-28.

    Somehow, some way, OU advanced to the National Championship game.  They lost to Nick Saban's LSU team, 21-14. 

37. Tulane vs Louisiana State 1982

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    It may be forgotten, but LSU and Tulane is considered a rivalry game.  In fact, they play for "the rag," a small flag which is divided diagonally between a Tulane and LSU logo.

    LSU hasn't lost since 1982, winning 18 straight.  Before the 1982 meeting, the Tigers won 24 of 26.  They have owned the series overall, compiling a 69-22-7 record.

    In 1982, LSU finished ranked 11th in the nation, which included a close 21-20 loss to Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.  But, they couldn't get past the pesky Green Wave, which finished 4-7.

    Tulane beat the Tigers 31-28.  Head coach Vince Gibson called the win "the greatest victory of my life, anywhere, anytime."

36. Army vs Navy 1950

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    Army vs Navy remains one of college football's greatest rivalries.  As of today, Navy holds a small lead, 55-49-7.

    Army entered as 21-point favorites and were undefeated in the 1950 campaign.  They had not lost a game in 1948 or 1949 and beat the Midshipmen 38-0 in 1949.

    Harry S. Truman (the real one, not the one in Fletch) was in attendance this day.  Navy upset Army 14-2 on the strength of five turnovers. 

35. Cal vs Stanford 1982

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    Many will remember this game for the final play, as well they should.  That being said, many forget that Stanford featured John Elway and were heavy favorites in the battle of the bay.

    If the difference in caliber entering the game wasn't enough, the finish was.  Cal executed one of the most memorable plays of all time to beat the Bears 25-20.

    Or did they?  Stanford claims Cal was down at :10 of the attached clip and writes the final score as 20-19 in all of their record books.

34. San Jose State vs Oregon 1969

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    San Jose State entered the game as 29-point underdogs.  They would win two games all year: this one, and a finale against Pacific.  They lost their first three games by a combined 160-49.

    Oregon, on the other hand, was 2-1, with wins over Washington State and Utah.  Additionally, this was the first home game for the Ducks in the three-year old Autzen Stadium.

    Apparently, no record of this game exists on Wikipedia or YouTube.

33. USC vs Oregon State 2008

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    USC was nearing the end of their dynasty, but no one knew it until they traveled to Corvalis on a Thursday night.

    Despite losing to the Beavers in Oregon just two years prior, the Trojans entered the game as 28-point favorites.  They were the No. 1 team in the nation.

    Oregon State entered as an unranked 1-2 team, having lost to Penn State and Stanford, and having beaten Hawaii.

    This was Jacquizz Rodgers' coming out party, as the freshman ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns.  The Beavers built a 21-0 lead in the first half.

    USC eventually rebounded and won the Pac-10, their final Pac-10 title.  They beat Penn State in the Rose Bowl.  Oregon State beat Pitt in the Sun Bowl, 3-0.

32. Iowa State vs Nebraska 1992

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    Nebraska had a bit of a down year this season, finishing just 9-2 in the regular season. 

    Still, the Huskers entered Cyclone Stadium as the No. 7 ranked team in the nation.  Iowa State was just a 3-6 team, with losses to Northern Iowa and Kansas.

    The 29-point favored Huskers found it difficult to get their running game going.  They fell to the Cyclones, 19-10. 

31. Ohio State vs Miami 2002 National Championship

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    Despite being undefeated, Ohio State entered as 11.5 point underdogs to the near-professional team of Miami.  Ohio State needed every inch they could muster, and a little luck, to beat the Hurricanes.

    OSU led 14-7 at the half and 17-14 entering the fourth quarter.  Miami made a field goal as time expired in the fourth quarter to tie the game.

    In the first OT, Miami scored first.  Then, they seemingly stopped OSU, as a fourth down was ruled incomplete.  Fans rushed the field and fireworks went off, but a late flag indicated pass interference.  OSU was given new life, and they scored to force a second OT.

    After that, they had all the momentum.  Clarett scored to put the Buckeyes up 31-24, and OSU held the vaunted Miami defense to escape with a seven-point win and a National Championship.

30. Boise State vs Oklahoma 2007 Fiesta Bowl

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    It is universally known that this was a great game with a great finish.  What is lost is that Boise was only 9.5 point underdogs coming in.

    Through much of the game, they looked like the superior team, building a 28-10 lead halfway through the third quarter.

    After 25 unanswered, Boise needed the now famous string of plays to tie, and then win, the game.  The point spread may have only been 9.5, but the improbability of winning after falling behind seven with 62 seconds left makes this worthy of the list.

29. Stanford vs Notre Dame 1990

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    Notre Dame entered the game as the No. 1 team.  They had won the National Championship in 1988 and lost just once, in 1989.  Stanford was unranked under Coach Denny Green, and would go on to a losing record.

    But for one day in South Bend, Stanford was the better team.   Touchdown Tommy Vardell and the Cardinal upset the Irish, 36-31.

    Stanford would miss out on a bowl this season.  ND advanced to the Orange Bowl, where they lost to Colorado, 10-9.

28. Utah vs Alabama 2009 Sugar Bowl

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    Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    That is the lesson Alabama should have taken into their matchup against Utah.  Just two years previously, Boise State shocked a big name program in Oklahoma.

    Instead, Alabama came out flat and immediately fell behind 21-0.  Alabama was No. 2 in their previous game, and only a loss to Florida prevented them from advancing to the National Championship game in Miami.

    Despite being undefeated, Utah entered as 10.5 underdogs.  They dismantled the Crimson Tide and finished the season ranked No. 2 in the nation.  Many point to their tremendous 2009 campaign as a reason for the need of a college football playoff.

27. North Carolina State vs Florida State 1998

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    FSU was ranked No. 2 in the nation and were hosting the hapless Wolfpack.  FSU had lost just one ACC game in the previous six seasons.  They were 47-1 in their last 48 ACC games! (And after this, they would not lose in the ACC again until 2002.)

    N.C. State was a 25 point underdog, and they didn't just beat FSU; they destroyed them, 24-7 to be exact. 

    Torry Holt had two touchdowns: one pass, and one punt return.  That was more than enough for the Wolfpack to pull the upset.  Eventual Heisman winner (in 2000) Chris Weinke threw six interceptions.

    FSU would go on to face Tennessee in the inaugural BCS championship game, where they lost, 24-17.  N.C. State would lose to Miami in the bowl.

26. Cincinnati vs Wisconsin 1999

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    Wisconsin had just come off a Rose Bowl victory and was in the process of putting another one together.  Cincinnati was an eventual 3-8 team who was just coming off of a loss to then D-II Troy.  What were the odds that one of the three wins would come against Big Ten champion Wisconsin?

    Cinci hosted the Badgers and held them to just 12 points.  In the final eight minutes alone, Wisconsin threw an interception, fumbled a punt and had a TD called back on a penalty.

    Wisconsin would eventually return to the Rose Bowl that season, defeating Stanford.

    Only 27,721 reportedly saw the upset.  But when it was over, they were all on the field, ripping down the goalposts.  Cincinnati coach Rick Minter said: "the goal posts were long gone.  I say, let's buy some more."

25. TCU vs Oklahoma 2005

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    Oklahoma entered the season as the No. 7 team in the nation and were 25-point favorites.  TCU entered the season unranked, but finished ranked No. 11 in the nation.  Therefore, the spread was off, but it was still a shocking upset to start the season.

    TCU held the Sooners to just 10 points and 225 yards.  They scored their biggest upset in 45 years.  They forced four turnovers and knocked Adrian Peterson out of the game. 

    Oklahoma finished 8-4, ranking No. 22 in the nation.

24. Texas Tech vs Oklahoma 2011

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    Yes, this game just happened a few days ago.  But the extent of the upset is so large that we can immediately place it on this list. 

    Oklahoma came in ranked No. 3, and had won 39 straight games at home, the longest streak in the nation.  They were also four touchdown favorites.

    Texas Tech built a 31-7 lead on 452 yards passing.  Oklahoma turned the ball over twice and missed a chip shot field goal on the way to losing 41-38.

    Oklahoma had won their first six games by an average of 29.5 points.  They fell to No. 11 in the nation, but it remains to be seen how they will finish.

23. Ole Miss vs Florida 2008

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    Florida came into the game ranked No. 4 in the nation and had only allowed 19 points in their first three games.  Ole Miss was unranked and in their first season under Houston Nutt.  The previous week, Ole Miss had lost to Vanderbilt.

    Things went according to plan in the first half.  The 22.5 point-favored Gators built a 17-7 lead behind two Tim Tebow touchdowns.  Ole Miss then responded with 17 un-answered in the third quarter.

    The game appeared to be headed for a tie, as a Percy Harvin TD run cut the lead to 31-30 with 3:28 left, but the extra point was blocked.

    Still, Florida had one more chance.  The Gators took over with 2:05 left, and had a 1st-and-10 from the Ole Miss 41.  They faced a 4th-and-1 after a nine-yard rush on third down.  They decided to give the ball to Tebow, and he was stuffed, giving the ball back to Ole Miss for good.

    Ole Miss enjoyed great success, advancing to the Cotton Bowl, where they beat Texas Tech.  Florida did not lose again and went on to win the National Championship for the second time in three years.  The Gators defense only allowed more than 20 points once more on the season, when they allowed 21 to the fourth-ranked LSU Tigers.

22. Kansas State vs Texas A&M 1998 Big 12 Championship Game

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    The Dr. Pepper Big 12 title game seems to be chock-full of upsets, and the third edition in 1998 was no different.

    Kansas State was No. 1 in the nation, featuring Heisman hopeful Michael Bishop.  The defense had allowed only 11 points a game.

    Texas A&M was solid, with a 10-2 ranking and a No.10 national ranking.  Still, no one expected this outcome.

    Kansas State built a 27-12 lead after three quarters.  Additonaly, word spread throughout the stadium that Miami had beaten UCLA, meaning a win by the Wildcats would guarantee a trip to the inaugural BCS title game.

    A&M was able to score 15 points in the final 10 minutes to force OT.  Then, after a Martin Grammatica FG in 2OT put KSU ahead, 33-30, a Sirr Parker TD gave A&M the win, 36-33.

    KSU went from the National Championship to the Alamo Bowl, where they were upset by Purdue.  Texas A&M advanced to the Sugar Bowl, where they lost to Ohio State.

    Folks, you and I have both listened to a lot of games with Brent Musburger announcing.  I don't think I have ever heard him as excited throughout the game as he was here.

21. Nebraska vs Miami 1984 Orange Bowl

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    Nebraska rolled in as what many considered to be the best team of all time.  They had QB Turner Gill, WR Irving Fryar and Heisman RB Mike Rozier and were averaging 52 points per game.  Against Colorado, they scored seven touchdowns in 12 minutes.

    Miami was ranked No. 4 and playing in their home stadium, but no one gave them a chance despite being only 10.5 point underdogs.  They lost their opening game to Florida, 23-3, but then ran the table.

    Early in the day, both Texas and Auburn lost, meaning the Orange Bowl could be a championship game.

    Miami took the lead early in what is considered the greatest football game of all time.  They led 31-17 entering the fourth quarter, but gave up two touchdowns to Nebraska. 

    In what remains a controversial play, head coach Tom Osborne decided to go for two against the Hurricanes down 31-30 with seconds left.  A tie would have kept Nebraska No. 1 and given them the National Title.  Instead, he went for the win, and the pass was batted away, and Miami won 31-30.

    Miami won the National Championship, their first of four in eight years.

20. Kansas vs Oklahoma 1975

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    Oklahoma was ranked No. 2, and had not lost in 37 straight games (they tied USC in 1973).  Kansas hadn't beaten Oklahoma in 11 straight tries.  Oklahoma had won the Championship in 1975.

    As good as Kansas' history was, Gale Sayers and John Riggins weren't needed on this November day in 1975.  Kansas held the Sooners to just three points and won 23-3.

    Despite losing so late, OU rebounded and won the national title.  They fell to just No.6 after their loss and then beat No. 2 Nebraska and No. 5 Michigan in the Orange Bowl. 

    You can see some of the highlights, as well as Lee Roy Selmon working out, in the attached video. 

19. Purdue vs Notre Dame 1974

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    Notre Dame was ranked No. 2 in the nation and had beaten Purdue 13 straight times. 

    Early fumbles and interceptions put the Irish behind 21-0, and the 34-point favorites were in a heap of trouble.

    The Irish were down 24-7 at halftime despite outgaining the Boilermakers.  They were unable to recover, falling 31-20.

    ND would not lose again until the finale to USC.  They would then beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, but finished ranked sixth in the nation.  After the season, Ara Parseghian retired.

    Purdue finished 4-6-1.

18. Notre Dame vs Oklahoma 1957

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    Oklahoma had won 47 straight games, an all-time winning streak that still stands today.  ND was a disappointing 4-2 under Terry Brennan and were coming off of a 2-8 season.  In 1956, Oklahoma beat ND 40-0.

    Oklahoma was an 18-point favorite, but did not find the endzone once.  An 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter gave ND all the points they needed, as they went on to win 7-0.

    ND would finish 7-3.  Oklahoma finished 10-1 and ranked No. 4 in the nation.

17. Northwestern vs Notre Dame 1995

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    Notre Dame entered the 1995 season as 28-point favorites against Northwestern.  While it is true that NW ended up going to the Rose Bowl, while ND finished 9-3 with a loss to FSU in the Orange Bowl, the game remains a huge upset.

    Thanks in large part to Pat Fizgerald, the current Wildcats coach, Northwestern held ND to 15 points, their smallest point total of the season.  It was the Wildcats' first win against ND since 1962 and their first opening win since 1975.  Conversely, it was ND's first opening loss since 1986. 

16. UTEP vs BYU 1985

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    BYU won the 1984 National Championship, the first by a non-major Conference team.  While they lost Trevor Matich and Steve Young, they still figured to be an above average team.  They certainly weren't supposed to lose to UTEP, a 36-point underdog.

    They were 5-1 headed into the game in El Paso, while UTEP was 0-6.  Nevertheless, UTEP shocked the Cougars, 23-16.  It was the only win on the season for UTEP, while BYU finished 10-3 with a loss to OSU in the Citrus Bowl.

15. Holy Cross vs Boston College 1942

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    Boston College had won the national championship in 1940 and were on their way to another title in 1942.  When it was all said and done, they had just one loss on the season.  That loss was to their rivals, Holy Cross.

    Boston College was 8-0 and had allowed just 19 points all season.  Against Holy Cross, they allowed 55.

    The events of the game were overshadowed by a deadly fire at the Cocoanut Grove club in downtown Boston that night.  492 people passed away, which both teams remember to this day.

14. Jacksonville State vs Ole Miss 2010

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    Ole Miss sure seemed like they were headed in the right direction, what with back-to-back Cotton Bowl victories.

    The 2010 campaign started off with some promise.  Any hope was quickly dashed, however, with a 49-48 loss in double overtime to FCS Jacksonville State.

    The Rebels led 31-10 at the half, but were outscored 24-3 in the second half to go to overtime.  In the second overtime, Jax State decided to go for two and converted on Ole Miss.  The 28.5-point underdogs were victorious. 

13. James Madison vs Virginia Tech 2010

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    Call it a letdown, call it a quick turnaround, call it what you want.  The fact remains, James Madison beat Virginia Tech.

    Six days after blowing a game to Boise State, Virginia Tech staggered back home to face James Madison.  It was seemingly just what the doctor ordered, as the Hokies needed to be a 35-point favorite to get over their disappointment against Boise.

    Instead, they gave up a touchdown in the fourth quarter to fall behind 21-16.  After that, they couldn't recover. 

    The Hokies turned the ball over three times as the Dukes got their first win against an FBS team in 20 years. 

12. Michigan State vs Ohio State 1998

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    Just listen to Brent Musburger, and you can tell that the Spartans were 28-point underdogs in the Horseshoe. 

    OSU was No. 1 and on their way to the inaugural BCS Title Game. MSU was unranked, 4-4 and coached by some guy named Nick Saban.

    The Buckeyes got out to a 17-3 lead early, and then led entering the fourth quarter.  In the end, however, Julian Peterson forced three fumbles, and Sparty was able to pull a major upset.

    OSU would not lose again.  They would finish No. 2 in the polls after they beat Texas A&M in the Sugar Bowl. 

    MSU would finish 6-6 and not attend a bowl.

11. Pittsburgh vs West Virginia 2007

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    Rich Rodriguez's West Virginia team had one more win to advance to the National Championship game.  It was at home.  It was against their rivals, Pitt.  They were 29-point favorites.

    WV turned it over three times and gained only 183 yards.  They were held to nine points, which, other than their loss to USF, was the only time they were held under 28 all season.

    West Virginia still won the Big East title and went to the Fiesta Bowl.  Before that, however, Rich Rod accepted the coaching vacancy at Michigan. They entered the Fiesta Bowl as 7.5 point underdogs to Oklahoma, but rolled them.

    Pitt finished 5-7. 

10. Temple vs Virginia Tech 1998

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    Virginia Tech was improving every season throughout the 1990s.  Still, they were one season away from their national-runners-up performance.  Nothing makes that more evident than their loss to Temple.

    Temple was 36-point underdogs and winless at 0-6.  They were 0-26 in Big East road games. 

    VT was ranked No. 8 in the nation and led in the game 17-0.  Then, as is always the case, Temple's third string QB Devon Scott led a huge comeback for the Owls. 

    Down four and facing a 4th-and-goal from the two-yard line, VT running back Lamont Pegues was dropped for a loss, giving VT their first loss of the season.

    VT would finish 9-3, finishing with a win over Alabama in the Music City Bowl.

    Temple would win just once more, against Pitt.  They finished 2-9.

9. Oregon State vs Washington 1985

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    Oregon State was a mediocre 2-4, but their losses were downright awful.

    They allowed a combined 97 points to USC and Washington State.  They also lost to Grambling State.

    Washington finished the previous season ranked No. 2.  They came into this game unranked, but were 37-point favorites.

    The Seattle media made jokes about Oregon State's team the entire week.  They went as far to say that Oregon State played football "the way Barney Fife played a deputy sheriff."

    Oregon State hung close, but was still down 20-14 with a few minutes left.  They came up with a blocked punt which seemed to be headed out of bounds for a touchback.  Instead, it took a left turn, and Oregon State fell on it to take a 21-20 lead.  They wouldn't relinquish it.

    At the time, it was the largest favorite to lose a game outright. 

8. Missouri vs Notre Dame 1972

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    Notre Dame entered as 35 point favorites over the surprising Mizzou Tigers.  The Irish were 4-0 and hoping for a National Title.  Mizzou was just 2-3.

    After the win, Mizzou continued their surprising season.  They advanced all the way to the Fiesta Bowl, where they fell to Arizona State.  ND finished 9-3, including a loss to Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.  In 1973, ND would win the championship.

    You can watch a detailed recap of the game starting at 4:20 in the attached clip.

7. Boston College vs Notre Dame 1993

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    Notre Dame had just beaten FSU in the "game of the century."  They had climbed to No. 1 in the rankings and controlled their own destiny for a national championship.  They were 10-0 and just one game away from playing for the National Title against Nebraska.

    Enter Boston College.  The Eagles were 7-2 and had won seven in a row. 

    BC built a 38-17 lead, but quickly saw it dissipate.  ND QB Kevin McDougal hooked up with Lake Dawson to give the Irish a 39-38 lead with just 70 seconds left.

    Glenn Foley nearly threw an interception on the ensuing drive.  Unfazed, he later found Ivan Boyd to get the ball down to the Irish 24.

    BC kicker David Gordon had not made a field goal longer than 39 yards all season.  This 41-yard attempt was low, and was seemingly headed wide right when it miraculously straightened out and cleared the crossbar.

    ND fell to the Cotton Bowl to face Texas A&M.  Despite ND and FSU each having one loss, and ND having beaten FSU, FSU was the eventual national champion.

6. Carnegie Tech vs Notre Dame 1926

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    Before Carnegie Mellon was Carnegie Mellon, they were Carnegie Tech.

    Tech was 6-2, but had lost to ND four straight years by a combined score of 111-19.  ND's defense had not allowed a point the entire season.

    ND was so confident that legendary coach Knute Rockne did not make the trip to Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.  Instead, he stayed in Chicago to watch the Army-Navy game at Soldier Field. 

    Two touchdown runs in the second quarter were enough for the Tartars (whatever that is), as they went on to win 19-0.  ND's hopes of a national title were crushed.

5. Syracuse vs Louisville 2007

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    Not long ago, Louisville was a good football team.  We're talking just a few years ago.

    The 2006 team finished third in the nation and won the Orange Bowl.  In 2007, they started 3-0 and were ranked No. 9 in the nation.

    Syracuse came in as 37-point underdogs.  They had won a combined five games in the two previous seasons combined and just one Big East game in that same timespan.

    Cuse led 21-7 at the half and 38-21 in the fourth quarter.  Louisville scored 14 late in the game.  The final score of 38-35 doesn't show how close the game really was.

    Louisville totaled 628 yards, but turned the ball over four times. 

4. Centre College vs Harvard 1921

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    It's hard to believe, but Harvard was once a national powerhouse.  They won the National Championship in 1919, and according to the Boand System (?), they won it again in 1920.  The Crimson were 5-0-1 with four shutouts entering the game and were looking for another title.

    Centre was (and still is) a small school in Danville, Kentucky.  In 1920, they were destroyed by Harvard on their home field.  To this day, they have an undergraduate enrollment of just around 1,700 people.

    The Colonels went up to Boston and became the first team out of the conference to beat either Harvard, Princeton or Yale (known then as the "Big Three").  Bo McMillin scored the game's only touchdown, good for a 6-0 win.

    To this day, the emblem C6H0 can be seen painted on buildings and other artifacts around the small town of Danville.

3. Ohio State vs Michigan 1969

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    In 1968, Ohio State beat Michigan 50-14.  Late in the game and up 48-14, Woody Hayes decided to go for two to get to the magic number.  When asked why he went for two, he famously replied "cause I couldn't go for three."

    Bo Schembechler kicked off his first season at Michigan by reminding every single player of the previous year's beatdown.  He had the line "50-14" enscribed on everything from urinals to lockers, carpets to weight equipment. 

    OSU entered as the No. 1 team on a 22-game win streak. They were favored over their rivals by 17.

    The two teams traded early scores.  When Michigan went up 7-6 early in the first, it was the first time that Ohio State trailed all year.  After going ahead 12-7, Woody went for two and failed.  He wouldn't score again.

    Michigan scored 17 unanswered in the first half to pull ahead 24-12.  Neither team scored in the second half. 

    In the end, Ohio State committed seven turnovers.

    Schembechler was carried off the field, where he was subsequently dropped by the players.  He later joked: "It was the only thing they fumbled all day."

2. Appalachian State vs Michigan 2007

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    We started this list with some games from late in the tumultuous 2007 season.  Here is the game that started it off.

    It was the first win by a FCS opponent over a top five team.  Michigan also became the first team to fall from the top five in the polls to unranked in one week.

    Appalachian State's speed proved to be too much for the Wolverines.  Armani Edwards led a spread attack that put up 28 points in the first half. 

    Their defense wasn't able to hold initially.  After falling behind 32-31, Edwards got the ball back with 97 seconds left.  He quickly led the team on a 69-yard drive, capped off with a Julian Rauch field goal.

    Still, Michigan was in position to win the game.  They lined up for a game-winning field goal, which was blocked.

    Many rumors have circulated that there was no spread in the game, as Las Vegas casinos were afraid to offer one.  In reality, the Mountaineers were 27-point underdogs.

    Michigan went 8-4 and won the Capital One Bowl.  Despite this, Lloyd Carr was fired at the end of the season.

    Appalachian State went on to win the FCS Championship.

1. Stanford vs USC 2007

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    The biggest upset belongs to the biggest point spread beaten in the history of the game.  USC hooked up with Stanford in the Coliseum as 41-point favorites.

    USC had not lost at home since 2001.  Stanford, on the other hand, was under first-year coach Jim Harbaugh and had won one game total in the previous season. 

    USC led 9-0 at the half, and 16-9 after three, but five turnovers ultimately doomed the Trojans.

    Stanford scored 17 in the fourth quarter against what many thought was the best defense in the nation.  This rally was capped off with a 10-yard pass from Tavita Pritchard to Mark Bradford.

    In hindsight, this game represented a turning point for both programs.  Stanford won four games that season, five the next, eight after that and then 12 last year.  They are currently a top five team.

    USC, on the other hand, made it back to the Rose Bowl in 2007 and 2008, but not since then.  While two Pac-10 titles in 07 and 08 might be good for many programs, they have not been the same USC since this loss.

    The two square off this week on Oct. 29 in the same Coliseum.  Neither team will be favored by 41 in that one.