The Biggest College Bowl Game Upsets Ever 

Blake Edwards
Originally by
Updated December 3, 2019 15.4k votes 4.6k voters 75.3k views 31 items

The biggest college bowl game upsets include dozens of college football games that defied all expert predictions and shocked the country. One fine NCAA Football team went in with every expectation of bringing home a victory but they either failed or were simply overpowered by their opponent and went home upset. These games might not have played out how everyone expected, but more often than not it made these games even more exciting.

Even before NCAA Division I football started using the Bowl Championship Series, at the end of each season teams play in bowl games rather than participate in a standard playoff system. To become eligible, teams must win at least half of their games but even after that requirement is met, the bowl game match-ups are still up to the sponsors. Normally, this creates games with well-matched opponents but sometimes, especially in these cases, one team enters as a clear favorite. In case you haven't already guessed, sometimes that favorite crashes and burns.

That was the case for all of these bowl game upsets but just like some bowl games are more meaningful than others, some of these upsets are more memorable as well. Take the 2007 BCS National Championship Game for example. The top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes entered with a win streak of 19 games and were the clear-cut favorite against the Florida Gators. Head coach Urban Meyer and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Tim Tebow never got that memo as they ran right over the Buckeyes 41-14 to win the National Championship.

Other games have not come with national championship consequences but that didn't make the upset any easier to deal with for the losing players. Close games, such as those who go into overtime, are especially tough for the upset players, such as the 2000 Sugar Bowl between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Michigan Wolverines. Then-Michigan quarterback Tom Brady led the Wolverines back from two 14-point deficits to force overtime but it was a missed field goal from the Alabama kicker in the extra session that cost the Crimson Tide the game.

Whether teams are heavily favored to win a college bowl game and lose or dominate the entire contest only to fall from one bad play, these college bowl game upsets will be remembered as the best of the best.
list ordered by
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Boise State 43 - Oklahoma 42
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Utah 31 - Alabama 17
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Tennessee 35 - Miami 7
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maccyjg added 1990 Liberty Bowl
Air Force 23, Ohio State 11
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Penn State 14 - Miami 10
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West Virginia 48 - Oklahoma 28
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Ozarkbilly added 1978 Orange Bowl
Ark. 31 - Okla. 6
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West Virginia 38 - Georgia 35
1990 Orange Bowl is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Biggest College Bowl Game Upsets Ever
mdillinger88 added 1990 Orange Bowl
Colorado 10 Notre Dame 9
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Texas 41 - USC 38
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Ohio State 31 - Miami 24
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2011 Rose Bowl
TCU 21 - Wisconsin 19
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2007 BCS National Championship Game
Florida 41 - Ohio State 14
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NickMarica added 1995 SUGAR BOWL
Virginia Tech 28, Texas 10. Virtually no one gave Tech a chance in this game, and they outplayed Texas....
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WilliamThomasDoro added 2012 sugar bowl
Louisville: 30; Florida: 20
1975 fiesta bowl is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Biggest College Bowl Game Upsets Ever
dldewitt added 1975 fiesta bowl
arizona state 17 - oklahoma 14
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East Carolina 41 - Boise State 38
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Michigan 41 - Florida 35
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buster_d added
Oklahoma vs Kentucky
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Michigan 35 - Alabama 34
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John Sayer added
1997 Sugar Bowl is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Biggest College Bowl Game Upsets Ever
Florida 52 - Florida State 20
1980 Holiday Bowl BYU 46... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Biggest College Bowl Game Upsets Ever
Jed Miller added 1980 Holiday Bowl BYU 46 SMU 45
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Purdue 37 - Kansas State 34
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Wisconsin 38 - UCLA 31