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The biggest upsets in bowl-game history

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Danny Howard

December 21st, 2020

There’s nothing quite like the drama and potential for greatness in a college bowl game.

While many great moments came from powerhouse teams and dynasties, the moments that live forever are the ones we never expected.

Here are some of the biggest upsets in bowl game history.

5. 1984 Orange Bowl: Nebraska vs. Miami

The 1984 Orange Bowl featured the top-ranked Cornhuskers against the No. 5 Hurricanes, and very few people expected much of a game.

The Hurricanes came out firing and led 17-14 at the half. Miami scored twice more in the third quarter, but the Cornhuskers fought their way back in the fourth. A blown two-point conversion sealed Nebraska’s doom, and Miami won, 31-30.

4. 2006 Rose Bowl: Texas vs. USC

In the 2000s, there was no team more dangerous than the USC Trojans. They had two Heisman Trophy winners in their starting line up and the team was on a 34-game winning streak. All they had left to do to win the BCS title was to beat the Texas Longhorns.

Texas had been overshadowed by USC all season, but the Longhorns kept up with the Trojans in a thrilling contest.

Ultimately, it was Vince Young’s 8-yard touchdown scramble that sealed an improbable, 41-38 win.

3. 2007 BCS Championship Game: Ohio State vs. Florida

The No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes and their 19-game win streak were heavy favorites against the Florida Gators in Glendale Arizona.

Florida didn’t get the memo and absolutely decimated the Buckeyes with a dominant performance. The Tim Tebow-led Gators jumped to a 34-14 lead after two quarters and turned in a 41-14 rout against a team that had been ranked No. 1 all season long.

2. 1986 Sugar Bowl: Miami vs. Tennessee

The Hurricanes were on the cusp of another national championship, and they were an eight-point favorite against the ho-hum Volunteers.

It looked like things were going to go Miami’s way, after an early Hurricanes score, but that was as good as it got for the team in green and orange. Starting in the second quarter, Tennessee’s defense took over, forced six turnovers, and the Vols picked Miami apart.

When the dust settled, the Hurricanes went out like a quaint breeze in a 35-7 defeat.

1. 2007 Fiesta Bowl: Boise State vs. Oklahoma

Though Boise State came in with an undefeated record, Oklahoma was a prohibitive favorite, in what ended up a roller-coaster game that was decided in overtime.

Boise State jumped out to an early lead and was able to fend off the Sooners time and again, but Oklahoma responded with an 18-point fourth quarter that put it in the lead. With seven seconds left, Boise State sent the game into overtime with a wild sequence that saw Drisan James lateral the ball to Jerard Rabb for the tie.

In overtime, Boise State ran three trick plays in succession to win, 43-42.