Top 5 College Football Upsets Of All Time

February 22, 2016 by CFP Staff

Few things in college football are more exciting than getting to watch your school test its mettle against a team at the top of the polls, possibly pulling off a shock upset that will capture the attention of the college football world.

Perhaps equally as exciting is having money on the line in one of these upsets, which is a big reason why college football is continually one of the most popular sports for Americans to wager on.

Sports betting was traditionally a 'brick and mortar' market, with bets being taken at the sports venues or at live bookmakers. Nowadays the majority of gambling is done online, with fans in the USA and Canada getting involved. Big match upsets like the ones we list below create a huge buzz when improbable bets pay off. The sports betting page of provides more information on how to get started (and hopefully winning!).

While some of these upsets mostly only live on in the minds of those bettors (on either end of the wager), there are many others that will seemingly live on in college football lore forever. Below are our five greatest.

5. Centre 6, Harvard 0 (Oct. 29, 1921)

In 1921, Centre College was a Kentucky school of about 300 students that had seen little success on the gridiron until a few years prior. By contrast, Harvard was the premier college football power of the time. So when the Praying Colonels paid a visit to Cambridge in 1921 while the Crimson were in the midst of a 25-game unbeaten streak, nothing short of a Harvard win was expected.

However, like the 1920 meeting between the two schools, the game went into halftime again tied. But this year it was the boys from Centre that grinded out an improbable 6-0 win in perhaps college football's first mammoth upset. To this day, markings with the scoreline C6H0 can be found etched on the sides of buildings in tiny Danville, Kentucky.

4. Notre Dame 7, Oklahoma 0 (Nov. 16, 1957)

It might be odd to think of Notre Dame as the owner of one of college football's great upsets, but the Irish were a merely average program for most of the 1950s. And their 2-8 record in the 1956 season was one of their worst ever, earmarked by a 40-0 drubbing from eventual National Champion, Oklahoma. The Sooners having won a record 47 games in a row, the two schools looked to be headed in different directions when they met for a rematch late in the 1957 season.

A 19-point betting favorite, the Sooners struggled from the get-go, failing to score three times deep in Notre Dame territory. The game was a slugfest, remaining scoreless until late in the 4th quarter when halfback Dick Lynch scampered into the endzone to snap the scoring drought, and ultimately, the streak. The team that Sports Illustrated had pronounced earlier that week as 'unbeatable', had not only been beaten, but shut out for the first time in 123 games.

3. Temple 28, Virginia Tech 24 (Oct. 17, 1998)

Perhaps college football's 'most forgotten' upset of the last few decades, Virginia Tech's home date against lowly Temple was a game most Hokie players and fans probably expected to forget shortly after VT presumably rolled to a big win. Riding streaks of 0-26 against Big East opponents on the road and 26 straight losses against ranked opponents, Temple entered the game 0-5 and as a 35-point underdog against the 5-0 and #14-ranked Hokies.

To make matters even more remarkable, Temple was riddled with injuries and fielding 10 different players making their first starts of the season. Down 17-0 with less than a minute in the first half, an Owl comeback would have to come from the hands of a freshman third-string quarterback Devin Scott. Two long TD passes and a short run from Scott saw Temple up 28-24 in the final minutes of the game, where a dramatic goal line stand from the Owl defense sealed the deal on perhaps the most improbable win in program history.

2. Stanford 24, USC 23 (Oct. 6, 2007)

Even in hindsight, you could probably see why #2 USC, who hadn't dropped a game in the Coliseum in six years, was a 41-point against a Stanford team that went 1-11 the previous season (losing to USC 42-0). That the Cardinal were starting a sophomore quarterback who had only recorded three official passes also probably had something to do with it.

While the point spread victory looked to be in jeopardy as early as the second quarter, most still assumed that was the only thing USC would be losing that night when the score was only 9-0 Trojans at halftime. But upset alerts began to sound when Stanford scored on a pick six early in the second half. Facing 4th and 20 while down 6 and only 1:45 remaining in the game, the Cardinal managed to convert then score on the very next play to take a 24-23 lead, one they would hold on to in order to complete the unfathomable upset.

1. Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32 (Sept. 1, 2007)

What ensued on the first weekend of the 2007 season wasn't supposed to happen, because it just possibly couldn't happen. What it was supposed to be was nothing more than a 'paycheck' game for the Michigan Wolverines when the FCS-division Appalachian State Mountaineers came to town.

Entering the game as #5 in both polls and considered one of the favorites to win the FBS National Championship, Michigan paid $400,000 to the Mountaineers to make the trip up to Ann Arbor and presumably provide the Wolverines with a nice tune-up and a W to start their season. As an FCS team, ASU was limited to only 63 scholarship players, meaning many of those on their sideline were walk-ons. Contrast that with Michigan's allowed 85 scholarship players, and it makes sense as to why many sportsbooks didn't even bother issuing betting lines for the game.

Viewers of other games around the country probably thought they were reading a scoreboard typo when the teams went into the lockers at halftime with the scoreline reading 28-17, Appalachian State. But it looked like things were about to revert to the expected in the final seconds of the game when Michigan set up for a 37-yard field goal attempt that would likely give them the win. Instead, the kick was blocked, setting in stone what was only the second time an FCS school had beat a ranked FBS team, and also what is widely regarded as the greatest college football upset of all time.