The 11 Biggest Upsets In Sports History

Chelsea football club

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Yoda1893

Some of the best moments in sports are the monumental upsets that rarely occur in big moments.If you like rooting for the underdog, you don’t often have reason to cheer.

But sometimes, special teams and athletes can pull off huge surprises.

We’ll take you through the biggest upsets over the years, from 1969 to 2012.

1969 — New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7

Jets quarterback Joe Namath guaranteed a victory in Super Bowl III over the Baltimore Colts, but absolutely no one was picking the AFL champions to win over the Colts, who had dominated the league that year.

The Jets scored 16 unanswered points from the start of the game, and put to bed any claims that the AFL was inferior to the NFL.

1980 — USA 4, USSR 3

The 1980 'Miracle on Ice' is still the top upset in sports history, and it seems hard to believe anything could ever surpass it.

1983 — North Carolina State 54, Houston 52

Houston had torched the country all year long, going 31-2, and were led by two future NBA legends in Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon.

The Cougars had N.C. State on the ropes in the second half, but Sidney Lowe led the Wolfpack to a late-game surge, and Dereck Whittenburg's alley-oop to Lorenzo Charles won N.C. State a national championship.

1985 — Villanova 66, Georgetown 64

Villanova shocked Patrick Ewing and Georgetown to win the NCAA national championship in 1985, shooting 78.6% from the field to edge a team that was on a 17-game winning streak.

1990 — Buster Douglas knocks out Mike Tyson

In 1990, Mike Tyson was still one of the most dangerous fighters in the ring, and in his last fight before meeting Douglas, he knocked out his opponent in 93 seconds.

Douglas was a 42-1 underdog, but he punished Tyson's left eye and left him all but blind. In the tenth round, Douglas knocked out Tyson with a flurry of punches to the head.

1994 — No. 8 Denver Nuggets advance past No. 1 Seattle Supersonics in NBA playoffs

Dikembe Mutombo and the No. 8 seed Denver Nuggets knocked off the No. 1 seed for the first time in NBA history in 1994, winning the five-game series with the Seattle Supersonics.

The decisive fifth game went into overtime in Seattle, where the Nuggets won 98-94.

2000 — Rulon Gardner wins Olympic gold medal over Aleksandr Karelin

Gardner was the ultimate underdog in the super-heavyweight gold medal match at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, facing the best wrestler in the history of the sport, Aleksandr Karelin.

Karelin hadn't lost a match in 13 years, and hadn't even surrendered a point to an opponent in the six years before the final at Sydney.

Gardner scored a single point in the second round and held on for a 1-0 win.

2004 — Greece wins Euro 2004

Greece went to Euro 2004 without a single star player and a plan to defend ferociously and outwork its opponents.

In a stunning run, Greece beat defending champion France and the Czech Republic in the knockout stages, then beat the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo 1-0 in the final.

2007 — Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32

When the Appalachian State Mountaineers beat No. 5 Michigan in 2007, it was the first time a Football Championship Subdivision school had ever beat a ranked Football Bowl Subdivision school.

Oh, and Appalachian State pulled it off in the Big House, in front of 109,000 Michigan fans.

2008 — New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14

The New England Patriots had already completed a perfect season and it looked like a 19-0 record was inevitable heading into Super Bowl XLII.

The Patriots were 12-point favourites in Las Vegas, but David Tyree's catch extended a crucial Giants drive late in the fourth quarter, and a touchdown with 35 seconds left would seal the upset.

2012 — Chelsea beats Bayern Munich in the Champions League final

Chelsea were huge underdogs in the 2012 Champions League final, which was played in Bayern Munich's home stadium in Germany -- giving the home team a tremendous advantage.

Down a goal with under five minutes to play, Didier Drogba tied the game with a headed goal, Petr Cech saved a penalty kick in extra time and Chelsea clinched the trophy in the ensuing penalty kick shootout to stun the Germans.

Want to read about some huge political upsets?

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