Five of the Biggest Upsets in Sports History

Jul 30, 2020

David defeats Goliath. The tortoise beats the hare. Everyone loves a great upset, especially when it comes to sports. Not only are the underdogs that pulled off the feat cherished in the eyes of fans, but these surprises also have the potential to make for some significant winnings for sports bettors.

Here’s a closer look at what we deem to be some of the biggest sports upsets of all time:

5. New York Jets vs. Baltimore Colts (1969 NFL Championship)

It’s the game that made quarterback Joe Namath a legend in Jets lore. Nobody was picking the Jets to win the 1969 NFL championship over the dominant Baltimore Colts – except maybe Namath, who guaranteed a victory. His prediction came true, as “Broadway Joe” and the Jets topped the Colts 16-7.

4. North Carolina State vs. Houston (1983 NCAA Basketball Championship)

Posting a 31-2 record, Houston was the clear favorite to win the 1983 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. North Carolina State had other ideas, however, coming back from a second-half deficit to top the Cougars 54-52 and claim the championship title.

3. Buster Douglas vs. Mike Tyson (1990)

As a 42-1 underdog fighting a man who had knocked out his previous opponent in just over 90 seconds, Buster Douglas had his work cut out for him. However, he took Mike Tyson to town, knocking him out in the 10th round in their iconic 1990 match.

2. Appalachian State vs. Michigan (2007)

This is arguably the biggest upset in college football history. In a season where the number five University of Michigan had Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl hopes, it was stunned by a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) school, Appalachian State. The Mountaineers’ 34-32 win – in front of 110,000 Wolverine fans – marked the first time an FBS school had lost to a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) one.

1. USA vs. USSR (1980 Winter Olympics)

The biggest upset in sports history is also arguably the greatest moment in sports history. On the heels of the Cold War and amid an economic recession, the 1980 U.S. Men’s Hockey team, a group of amateur college athletes, beat the USSR’s seasoned professionals 4-3 in the medal semifinal round, a game now known as the “Miracle on Ice.” Even sweeter, the U.S. went on to win the gold medal in men’s ice hockey days later, a prize that has eluded American hockey in the Olympics ever since.

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