College football is a sport renowned for its unpredictability and passion. Throughout its storied history, there have been numerous instances where underdog teams defied the odds and emerged victorious against seemingly unbeatable opponents. These upsets not only electrify the fans but also serve as a reminder that in sports, anything can happen. Here, we delve into the top 10 college football upsets that left an indelible mark on the game. These remarkable victories not only showcase the resilience and determination of the underdog but also underscore the ever-evolving landscape of college football. They serve as a testament to the enduring spirit of competition and the enduring appeal of the sport. Each upset stands as a beacon of hope for aspiring teams and a testament to the unpredictable nature of college football. These moments continue to inspire generations of players, coaches, and fans, reminding us all that in college football, the underdog is never truly out of the fight.
Appalachian State Vs. Michigan (2007)
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In arguably the most iconic upset in college football history, the Appalachian State Mountaineers, then an FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) team, faced off against the powerhouse Michigan Wolverines. The Mountaineers, led by quarterback Armanti Edwards, pulled off a stunning 34-32 victory in “The Big House.” This upset signaled a shift in the perception of smaller schools, proving they could compete at the highest level.
Stanford Vs. USC (2007) – Top 10 College Football Upsets
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Stanford, a 41-point underdog, stunned the college football world by defeating the USC Trojans, who were on a 35-game home winning streak. Led by head coach Jim Harbaugh and quarterback Tavita Pritchard, the Cardinal emerged with a 24-23 victory. This game is a testament to the belief that in college football, rankings and statistics can be thrown out the window on any given day.
Boise State Vs. Oklahoma (2007 Fiesta Bowl)
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During a bowl game that etched itself into the annals of history, the Boise State Broncos, once again playing the underdog, went head-to-head with the Oklahoma Sooners. Boise State, from the WAC (Western Athletic Conference), showcased an audacious array of trick plays, including the famous “Statue of Liberty” play in overtime, to secure a 43-42 victory. This game demonstrated the resilience and creativity of smaller programs in the face of powerhouse opposition.
Navy Vs. Notre Dame (2007) – Top 10 College Football Upsets
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In a momentous turn of events in 2007, the Navy Midshipmen broke a 43-game losing streak against Notre Dame, a victory that reverberated through the annals of college football history. Having last triumphed over the Fighting Irish in 1963, the Midshipmen exhibited unmatched determination and grit, securing a hard-fought 46-44 victory in triple overtime. This astonishing upset serves as a vivid testament to the capricious nature of college football and the resolute spirit of the underdog, etching its place as an unforgettable chapter in the sport’s rich tapestry.
Texas Tech Vs. Texas (2008)
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In a game forever etched in college football lore, the Texas Tech Red Raiders, led by quarterback Graham Harrell and receiver Michael Crabtree, orchestrated a thrilling upset against the Texas Longhorns. With only one second remaining, Harrell connected with Crabtree for a 28-yard touchdown pass, sealing a 39-33 victory. This game showcased the dramatic moments that make college football the heart-pounding spectacle it is.
Utah Vs. Alabama (2009 Sugar Bowl) – Top 10 College Football Upsets
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The Utah Utes entered the 2009 Sugar Bowl as heavy underdogs against the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide, who were vying for a national championship. The Utes, led by quarterback Brian Johnson, dominated the game from start to finish, securing a resounding 31-17 victory. Utah’s triumph shattered the notion that non-Power Five conference teams couldn’t compete with the giants of college football.
Kansas State Vs. Oklahoma (2012)
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The 2012 showdown between the Kansas State Wildcats, under the formidable leadership of quarterback Collin Klein, and the powerhouse Oklahoma Sooners, was nothing short of a football spectacle. In a jaw-dropping upset, the Wildcats secured a resounding 24-19 victory. This game was a testament to the impact of meticulous coaching and disciplined teamwork, as Kansas State consistently outperformed and outwitted their higher-ranked adversaries, leaving a lasting mark on college football history.
Auburn Vs. Alabama (2013 Iron Bowl) – Top 10 College Football Upsets
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Dubbed the “Kick-Six” game, the 2013 Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama will forever be remembered for its breathtaking conclusion. In a heart-stopping finale, Auburn’s Chris Davis electrified the crowd by returning a missed field goal an astounding 109 yards for a touchdown, securing a 34-28 victory. This game exemplified the electrifying drama that college football can deliver.
Georgia State Vs. Tennessee (2019)
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In a groundbreaking moment for Georgia State, a rising star in the FBS, they stunned the Tennessee Volunteers with a historic 38-30 triumph at Neyland Stadium. This remarkable upset underscored the dynamic nature of college football, demonstrating that up-and-coming programs have the potential to challenge even the most established powerhouses in the sport’s ever-evolving landscape.
Coastal Carolina Vs. BYU (2020) – Top 10 College Football Upsets
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In a matchup that was arranged on short notice due to COVID-19 disruptions, the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers faced off against the highly-ranked BYU Cougars. Coastal Carolina’s defense stood strong in the final moments, preventing BYU from scoring, and clinching a historic 22-17 victory. This game demonstrated the resilience and adaptability of college football teams in the face of unprecedented challenges.