THE YEAR OF THE UPSET. If the best season in sports history has a nickname, that’s it.
Let’s rank those upsets, with the benefit of hindsight.
11. Colorado 27, No. 3 Oklahoma 24 (betting line: -23.5, per Odds Shark database)
10. No. 9 West Virginia 48, No. 3 Oklahoma 28 (-6)
The WVU-OU Fiesta Bowl wasn’t quite the NOBODY BELIEVED IN US shocker it’s remembered as, other than the big margin. But listen to Owen Schmitt talk about the very sad ESPN.com poll widget failing very badly, and it’ll feel like Muhammad Ali gave Joseph Stalin a Stone Cold Stunner on the moon.
The Sooners pulled off some totally 2007 magic, losing three different games as the No. 3 team. (Texas Tech was the other.)
9. Syracuse 38, No. 18 Louisville 35 (-37.5)
Numerically, one of the biggest upsets ever, and who even remembers it?
8. The three times No. 1 lost, other than the two astounding times
These weren’t that brain-breaking by themselves, but put them together ...
- No. 17 Kentucky 43, No. 1 LSU 37 (-10)
- No. 9 Oklahoma 38, No. 1 Missouri 17 (-3)
- No. 2 LSU 38, No. 1 Ohio State 24 (-4)
... and that’d be a season’s worth of drama right there.
7. All the times No. 2 lost, other than the two unbelievable times
The lesser five, ranked as a group:
- Oregon State 31, No. 2 Cal 28 (-14)
- Rutgers 30, No. 2 USF 27 (-1)
- Florida State 27, No. 2 Boston College 17 (-7)
- Arizona 34, No. 2 Oregon 24 (-10.5)
- No. 3 Missouri 36, No. 2 Kansas 28 (-1.5)
6. Arkansas 50, No. 1 LSU 48 (-13.5)
The other time the eventual national champ lost in triple overtime. Kentucky was at least ranked and playing at home. This one was in Baton Rouge.
5. Illinois 28, No. 1 Ohio State 21 (-15.5)
One power-conference team hadn’t yet been mastered by 2007. The 10-0 Buckeyes had barely broken a sweat. OSU’s defense was among the best ever.
4. ULM 21, Alabama 14 (-24.5)
Nick Saban’s first Bama team was a lot better than you remember, other than the fact that it lost to a mediocre Sun Belt team.
However, it lost to a mediocre Sun Belt team.
Never forget: Saban lost to a mediocre Sun Belt team.
3. Pitt 13, No. 2 West Virginia 9 (-28.5)
The year’s most consequential shocker. It wrecked a WVU title trip and gave Pitt fans an eternal trash talk trump card. I don’t know of a rivalry game that’s left a deeper scar.
2. Stanford 24, No. 2 USC 23 (-39)
It’s been called the biggest point-spread upset ever, with some books listing it as high as 41.5 points. It was the world’s intro to Jim Harbaugh’s coaching potential, launched the Harbaugh-Pete Carroll rivalry, and hinted at Stanford’s return to power status after three disappointing decades.
1. FCS Appalachian State 34, No. 5 Michigan 32 (-33)
"The horror," as Wolverines fans have come to refer to it, of FCS Appalachian State’s 2007-opening upset over No. 5 Michigan set the tone for college football’s most unpredictable season. It’s sometimes called the greatest upset in football history.
It also struck a blow for the spread offense as football’s great equalizer.
"We had watched a lot of film of their game against Ohio State, and Michigan was having a hard time stopping the spread," QB Armanti Edwards later told ESPN. "That gave us a lot of confidence."
His Mountaineers were about to make an emphatic point about the direction of football. The plan was to emphasize the battles between their senior skill players and Michigan’s.
When the battle was in the trenches, Michigan had a decisive advantage. Long and company were powerful athletes that App State couldn’t match. The Michigan OL averaged 6’5, 302 pounds, while the App State OL averaged 6’3, 276 pounds.
"Our D-line wasn't doing the best of jobs, and they had Jake Long sitting there throwing people around," Corey Lynch, who blocked the final kick, later told ESPN.
But when the battle was out in space, Appalachian State was superior.
Game hero Dexter Jackson to SI: "We knew we wanted to spread them out. They had bigger bodies. They were more physical than us when it came to size. We knew we were fast."
LB Pierre Banks to SI: "They were bigger than us, but we were faster than them."
There have been bigger Vegas upsets. App State was about to three-peat as its subdivision’s national champ. A ranked FBS/I-A team had lost to a lower-subdivision team before (Cincinnati was temporarily considered I-AA when it beat No. 20 Penn State in 1983). The Mountaineers had some future NFL players, including sophomore QB Armanti Edwards. App State would win a 2016 Sun Belt title share as an FBS member.
Michigan had been one score away from making the BCS Championship the year prior and was favored to win the Big Ten. UM regularly ranks as one of the two winningest programs ever, depending on how Notre Dame’s doing. App State had lost most of its defensive front seven. The Wolverines had 22 more scholarship players, home-field advantage in a 109,000-seat stadium, and resource advantages across the board. Many Vegas books didn’t even list the game. And it was the debut game for the Big Ten Network, selected to show off the conference’s strength.
On paper, I don’t know if it’s the biggest upset ever. The ‘Neers were good, and everybody knew it.
It towers in our minds because it’s Michigan at the Big House, because it signified a revolution in football offense, and because we hadn’t yet seen somewhat similar upsets by 2010 James Madison (21-16 vs. No. 13 Virginia Tech), 2013 Eastern Washington (49-46 vs. No. 25 Oregon State), and 2016 North Dakota State (23-21 vs. No. 13 Iowa), not that any of those really compare. The FCS-over-FBS upset might never again feel as apocalyptic as this one did.
Just as big as the brand names was the fact that this game kicked off the greatest season ever. This was the roadside flare, the wake-up punch to the nose, and the first present under the tree.
Nah, let’s keep going.
No. 20 Georgia 42, No. 9 Florida 30 (-7.5)
"And here comes the entire team!"
"This was planned!"
Kansas State 41, No. 7 Texas 21 (-14.5)
Texas A&M 38, No. 13 Texas 30 (-7)
The wildest part: This wasn’t even Texas stepfather Bill Snyder doing the upsetting. This was short-tenured, second-year stand-in Ron Prince.
No, wait. The wildest part: A&M’s head coach resigned immediately afterward amid revelations he’d run a for-pay newsletter about his own team.
Utah 44, No. 11 UCLA 6 (-15)
If you beat Vegas by 53 points, you must be mentioned.
Navy 46, Notre Dame 44 (-3.5)
A tiny upset in isolation — the Irish were terrible, going without an AP ranking at any point for the first time in 43 years — but it’d been that same number of years since the Midshipmen had beaten ND, the longest rivalry streak in college football history.
Auburn 20, No. 4 Florida 17 (-17.5)
Here’s a fun thing: Go up to a Gators fan and whisper Wes Byrum’s name. I didn’t say it would be fun for you or for that Gators fan.
USF 26, No. 17 Auburn 23 (-7)
No. 18 USF 21, No. 5 West Virginia 13 (-7)
Some of this year’s surprise No. 2 teams arrived there via attrition. The Bulls, the most perplexing No. 2 of all, did it by beating higher-ranked schools that’d had football programs for about a century longer.
Maryland 34, No. 10 Rutgers 24 (-18.5)
what in tarnation
Virginia 48, Miami 0 (-3.5)
The Canes’ last game at the Orange Bowl stadium, home of their five national title teams, saw them suffer the worst shutout loss by any team in venue history.
Nah, let’s keep going.
All the FBS games won by the lower-ranked team in 2007
|Sep. 1||Appalachian State (FCS)||34||No. 5 Michigan||32|
|Sep. 3||Clemson||24||No. 19 Florida State||18|
|Sep. 8||South Carolina||16||No. 11 Georgia||12|
|Sep. 8||USF||26||No. 17 Auburn||23|
|Sep. 8||Washington||24||No. 22 Boise State||10|
|Sep. 15||Kentucky||40||No. 9 Louisville||34|
|Sep. 15||Utah||44||No. 11 UCLA||6|
|Sep. 15||No. 21 Boston College||24||No. 15 Georgia Tech||10|
|Sep. 15||Alabama||41||No. 16 Arkansas||38|
|Sep. 20||Miami||34||No. 20 Texas A&M||17|
|Sep. 22||Michigan||14||No. 10 Penn State||9|
|Sep. 22||No. 22 Georgia||26||No. 16 Alabama||23|
|Sep. 22||Syracuse||38||No. 18 Louisville||35|
|Sep. 28||No. 18 USF||21||No. 5 West Virginia||13|
|Sep. 29||Colorado||27||No. 3 Oklahoma||24|
|Sep. 29||Auburn||20||No. 4 Florida||17|
|Sep. 29||Kansas State||41||No. 7 Texas||21|
|Sep. 29||Maryland||34||No. 10 Rutgers||24|
|Sep. 29||No. 6 Cal||31||No. 11 Oregon||24|
|Sep. 29||Georgia Tech||13||No. 13 Clemson||3|
|Sep. 29||Illinois||27||No. 21 Penn State||20|
|Sep. 29||Florida State||21||No. 22 Alabama||14|
|Oct. 4||No. 11 South Carolina||38||No. 8 Kentucky||23|
|Oct. 6||Stanford||24||No. 2 USC||23|
|Oct. 6||Illinois||31||No. 5 Wisconsin||26|
|Oct. 6||Tennessee||35||No. 12 Georgia||14|
|Oct. 6||No. 20 Cincinnati||28||No. 21 Rutgers||23|
|Oct. 6||Kansas||30||No. 24 Kansas State||24|
|Oct. 11||Wake Forest||24||No. 21 Florida State||21|
|Oct. 13||No. 17 Kentucky||43||No. 1 LSU||37|
|Oct. 13||Oregon State||31||No. 2 Cal||28|
|Oct. 13||Louisville||28||No. 15 Cincinnati||24|
|Oct. 13||Iowa||10||No. 18 Illinois||6|
|Oct. 13||Penn State||38||No. 19 Wisconsin||7|
|Oct. 18||Rutgers||30||No. 2 USF||27|
|Oct. 20||Vanderbilt||17||No. 6 South Carolina||6|
|Oct. 20||No. 14 Florida||45||No. 8 Kentucky||37|
|Oct. 20||UCLA||30||No. 10 Cal||21|
|Oct. 20||Alabama||41||No. 20 Tennessee||17|
|Oct. 20||Pitt||24||No. 23 Cincinnati||17|
|Oct. 20||Oklahoma State||41||No. 25 Kansas State||39|
|Oct. 27||No. 20 Georgia||42||No. 9 Florida||30|
|Oct. 27||UConn||22||No. 11 USF||15|
|Oct. 27||Mississippi State||31||No. 14 Kentucky||14|
|Oct. 27||Tennessee||27||No. 15 South Carolina||24|
|Oct. 27||North Carolina||29||No. 21 Virginia||24|
|Nov. 3||Florida State||27||No. 2 Boston College||17|
|Nov. 3||Cincinnati||38||No. 20 USF||33|
|Nov. 3||Virginia||17||No. 21 Wake Forest||16|
|Nov. 3||Arkansas||48||No. 23 South Carolina||36|
|Nov. 10||Illinois||28||No. 1 Ohio State||21|
|Nov. 10||Maryland||42||No. 8 Boston College||35|
|Nov. 10||Wisconsin||37||No. 13 Michigan||21|
|Nov. 10||Cincinnati||27||No. 16 UConn||3|
|Nov. 10||Mississippi State||17||No. 21 Alabama||12|
|Nov. 15||Arizona||34||No. 2 Oregon||24|
|Nov. 17||Texas Tech||34||No. 3 Oklahoma||27|
|Nov. 17||No. 18 Boston College||20||No. 15 Clemson||17|
|Nov. 22||No. 11 USC||44||No. 7 Arizona State||24|
|Nov. 23||Arkansas||50||No. 1 LSU||48|
|Nov. 23||Texas A&M||38||No. 13 Texas||30|
|Nov. 24||No. 3 Missouri||36||No. 2 Kansas||28|
|Nov. 24||UCLA||16||No. 9 Oregon||0|
|Dec. 1||No. 9 Oklahoma||38||No. 1 Missouri||17|
|Dec. 1||Pitt||13||No. 2 West Virginia||9|
|Dec. 1||Oregon State||38||No. 18 Oregon||31|
|Dec. 23||East Carolina||41||No. 24 Boise State||38|
|Dec. 27||No. 17 Texas||52||No. 12 Arizona State||34|
|Dec. 31||No. 22 Auburn||23||No. 15 Clemson||20|
|Dec. 31||Oregon||56||No. 23 USF||21|
|Jan. 1||Michigan||41||No. 9 Florida||35|
|Jan. 1||Texas Tech||31||No. 21 Virginia||28|
|Jan. 2||No. 11 West Virginia||48||No. 3 Oklahoma||28|
|Jan. 3||No. 8 Kansas||24||No. 5 Virginia Tech||21|
|Jan. 7||No. 2 LSU||38||No. 1 Ohio State||24|
This post's author and Shutdown Fullback co-hosts Spencer Hall and Ryan Nanni go back and try to rank the 10 dumbest things that happened during the 2007 season: