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Top 15 Upsets in College Football History

Top 15 upsets in college football history!
Publish Date:04/23/2022
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

Greatest Upsets in College Football History!

15) NC State Over Florida State (1998)

The 1998 season was going to be Florida State’s shot at a national championship.

They were ranked second in the nation going into the season and they looked every bit of it after a 23-14 dominating win over a very good 14th-ranked Texas A&M.

However, their second game of the year came on the road against NC State. It wasn’t a ranked opponent, so you wouldn’t think the Seminoles would have many problems taking down the Wolfpack. Unfortunately for the Seminoles, the day wouldn’t go as planned. Quarterback Chris Weinke was intercepted six times as NC State upset Florida State, 24-7.

14) Oregon State Over Washington (1985)

The Washington Huskies were 37-point favorites coming into this game.

Though the Beavers held tough against the Huskies, they trailed 20-14 with little time left in the game. But they forced Washington to punt, then came up with the block and ran it in for the touchdown.

They added the extra point and shocked Washington, 21-20.

13) Notre Dame Over Oklahoma (1957)

The Oklahoma Sooners came into this game against Notre Dame holding a 47-game winning streak. That’s four years without a loss. Pretty impressive, right?

It was a defensive battle for almost the entire game, with neither team able to put the ball in the end zone.

Oklahoma looked flat, almost like they expected to walk in the building and Notre Dame was going to hand them the win.

The Irish got a late turnover and turned it into a 20-play scoring drive to put a stop to that win streak with a 7-0 win.

12). Stanford Over Notre Dame (1990)

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish were national champions in 1988, had knocked off Colorado 21-6 in the Orange Bowl on New Year’s 1990, and finished with a 12-1 record and the No. 2 ranking in the country.

They looked just as strong going into the 1990 season, picking up three straight wins over Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue.

However, they met up with Stanford in their fourth game of the year, and the Cardinal knocked off the heavily-favored Irish, 36-31.

11). Temple Over Virginia Tech (1998)

The Temple Owls were winless coming into this game; the Hokies were the fifth-ranked team in the country and were favored by more than four touchdowns.

The Owls were down by 17 at the half but rallied to shock Virginia Tech, 28-24.

10). Holy Cross Over Boston College (1942)

The 1942 Boston College team was as good as you could imagine: national championship favorites, undefeated through eight games that season, and had given up a grand total of just 19 points through those eight games.

On the other side, Holy Cross came into this game with an underwhelming 4-4-1 record.

This wasn’t how this game was supposed to go, or end for that matter.

Holy Cross ended any national championship hopes for Boston College that day with a 55-12 blowout win.

9). Navy Over Army (1950)

U.S. President Harry Truman, along with 110,000 other fans, saw Army come in as heavy favorites: 21-point favorites, to be exact.

But five turnovers and not a single touchdown doomed Army in this one as Navy would pick up the win, 14-2.

8). Kansas Over Oklahoma (1975)

The Oklahoma Sooners were the dominant team in football. They were riding a 37-game winning streak and came in to the 1975 season with the No. 2 ranking in the country and as defending national champions.

The Jayhawks came into the game not only unranked, but they hadn’t beaten Oklahoma in 11 years. Let’s face it Kansas is a Basketball school, not a football school.

That came to an abrupt halt on this day as the Sooners turned the ball over eight times and allowed Kansas to run away with a 23-3 win.

Despite that loss, Oklahoma would still go on to win the national championship that year, its second straight.

7). Stanford Over USC (2007)

We always remember the games that are expected to be blowouts, especially when they end up going the other way.

This is exactly that kind of example.

In 2007, No. 1-ranked USC and Stanford met in Los Angeles with the Trojans favored by 40 points.

Stanford’s starting quarterback that year, T.C. Ostrander, suffered a seizure one day after their game against Arizona State and was held out of this game against USC.

They would instead go with backup Tavita Pritchard and wouldn’t regret that decision one bit.

Down 23-14 late in the fourth, the Cardinal would close with 10 unanswered points, capped off by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Pritchard to Mark Bradford to give Stanford an improbable 24-23 win.

6). Ohio State Over Miami (2002)

The 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes were coming off a 7-5 record, wanting badly to improve upon that and show it was a better team than that.

They did exactly that the following year, winning all 13 of their non-conference and conference games, earning a berth into the national championship game.

The game would take place on Jan. 3, 2003, in the Fiesta Bowl against 11.5-point favorite and defending national champion Miami.

The Buckeyes took a 14-7 lead at the half, but Miami would battle back and trail by three with just under two minutes to go.

They would use one last drive to get inside Ohio State territory and nail a game-tying field goal with no time left on the clock to send the game into overtime.

Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey found tight end, Kellen Winslow, to put Miami on the board first, but Ohio State would answer and tie the game up, sending it to a second overtime.

Ohio State scored first in the second overtime to put them up 31-24, giving Miami a shot to tie the game up.

Two penalties gave Miami new life, but the Buckeye’s defense held and stuffed the Miami offense, winning the national championship.

5). Columbia Over Army (1947)

The Army football team had an unbeaten streak that had reached 32 games coming in to their game against Columbia. Army was expected to make quick, though not quite painless, work of Columbia.

It looked like they were going to do just that as Army led 20-7 at the half. But thanks to two rushing touchdowns from Lou Kusserow, Columbia got a shocking 21-20 win.

4). Michigan Over Ohio State (1969)

The 1969 Ohio State football team was called the “greatest team in college football history.” They came in with a 22-game win streak and were defending national champions behind head coach Woody Hayes.

On the flip slide, Michigan was trying to rebuild during a time that saw them go to just one Rose Bowl in 17 years.

The Buckeyes didn’t play at all up to their billing, turning the ball over seven times, including six interceptions, as they lost to the Wolverines, 24-12. Thus, one of the greatest college football rivalries was born on this day Woody v.s Bo!

3). Centre College Over Harvard (1921)

While Harvard isn’t exactly known for football these days, it was back then. And the Crimson were good, too.

It made their matchup against Centre College look all the more lopsided.

However, Centre College put up a solid defensive front, holding Harvard to a big zero. Centre would score a touchdown in the third quarter but would miss the extra point, but it didn’t end up mattering.

The upset was theirs, 6-0.

2) Carnegie Tech Over Notre Dame (1926)

This was a game that Knute Rockne wished he would have never taken. Notre Dame wasn’t supposed to lose this game.

In fact, Rockne thought it was such a cinch, that he headed up to Chicago to catch the Army/Navy game that year.

Bad decision.

Carnegie Tech led 13-0 at the half and wouldn’t look back, upending the Irish, 19-0, and ending their national championship hopes that season.

1) Appalachian State Over Michigan (2007)

Appalachian State, a team in the second tier of Division I, was coming in to Ann Arbor to get the thrashing it was paid for, roughly $400,000.

The Wolverines wanted a warm-up game; they wanted an easy non-conference opponent.

What they ended up getting was a blocked field goal at the end of the game and an up-close view of this small school no one knew anything about celebrating on their field.

The Wolverines and their fans couldn’t believe what happened. It was on their field in front of their fans.

Believe it: a 34-32 upset win by now well-known Appalachian State.

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