Top Five Upsets

A look at some of the biggest shockers in college football history

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Sept. 1, 2007

By Eric Sorenson

Special to



Eric Sorenson is a regular contributor to, covering football, basketball & baseball. E-mail here!

What red-blooded American doesn't love a good upset? Spurred on by today's jaw-dropping Appalachian State win over mighty Michigan in the Big House, I thought about some of the biggest upsets in college football history.




Personally, I can think of plenty of big upsets that immediately come to mind:

- Miami (Ohio) beating LSU in Death Valley in 1986

- Missouri stunning No. 2 Ohio State in The Horseshoe in 1976

- Mississippi State ending Alabama's 27-game win streak in 1980

- Brett Favre leading Southern Miss to a season-opening win at Florida State in '89

- The fact that nobody died from Bear Bryant's no-water practices in Junction, Texas


But thinking long and hard, here is my slant on the Five Biggest Upsets in college football history.


October 17, 1998

Temple - 28

No. 14 Virginia Tech - 24

Virginia Tech came in 5-0 and Temple came in 0-6. This was head coach Bobby Wallace's first win in a 2-9 season. Tech moved down to the Owls' three yard-line in the closing seconds before Temple bowed up and held on downs.


September 18, 1953

Southern Mississippi - 25

No. 5 Alabama - 19

`Bama entered the 1953 season fresh off a 10-2 year that was capped with a 61-6 lambasting of Syracuse in the Orange Bowl. Southern Miss, then playing mostly small, lower-division schools, pulled off this stunner in Week 1. The setback sent the Tide on a downward spiral that saw them win just 10 games in '53 and '54 combined. Just to give you an idea of their competition, the next weekend, the Eagles played the Parris Island Marines, winning 40-0.


November 8, 1975

Kansas - 23

No. 2 Oklahoma - 3

Oklahoma, behind the legendary Selmon brothers, had gone unbeaten in 37 straight before hosting what they thought would be another sacrificial lamb in Kansas. In the previous four seasons, the Sooners had beaten Kansas by a combined 180-51. Behind the wishbone wizardry of Nolan Cromwell, then a QB, the 5-3 Jayhawks and seven Sooner fumbles put the only blemish on OU's national title season.


September 1, 2007

Appalachian State - 34

No. 5 Michigan - 32

Sure, the Mountaineers have won two straight FCS national titles, but still, who would've guessed this? And as Mel Kiper pointed out, it wasn't as if ASU was pulling off some fluke scores. They were going toe-to-toe with the Big Ten-ers, as witnessed by their 388 total yards and winning despite three turnovers to Michigan's two.


December 2, 1950

No. 2 Army - 2

Navy - 14

The Cadets came in 8-0 with five shutouts, while Navy was 2-6 and had gone 7-34-2 since the 1946 season. But QB Zug Zastrow spelled disastro for the Black Knights, leading Navy to a pair of second-half touchdowns. Meanwhile, Navy held the Army offense scoreless despite their seven second-half trips inside the Middies' red zone. And besides, Beano Cook says this is the biggest upset in history, so that's good enough for me.