The Biggest Odds Upsets of All Time

October 26, 2020

It is hard to explain the level of entertainment spectators and fans experience while watching their favorite athletes compete with each other in physical activity to someone who is not into sports.

People who do not have sports as their cup of tea will not be amused by anything the activity might bring, even if it includes the most miraculous outcomes in the final seconds of a certain affair.

However, if you have sports in your blood, you must have felt goosebumps on so many occasions over the course of history. This article is dedicated to exactly this sort of people, to those who love sports, and especially to those who easily get emotional while watching it.

How many times have you heard the phrase “David goes against Goliath”? How many times have you said, “there’s no chance this team/player will lose”? I know the answer because I have been there, just like you, just like any sports fan. Nevertheless, miracles have happened during history, and miracles will certainly happen in the future. Are you brave enough to predict one?

I could write a lot on the theme, but it would be better just to go straight to the point. As you can see in the title, we are about to discuss the 10 biggest odds upsets of all time. David defeated Goliath so many times in history and it is tough to underline only ten shocking moments. However, after thorough research, it all comes down to the following:

10 – A NY Giants Super Bowl Win Shocks Nevada Sportsbooks

The world has seen bigger shocks in terms of odds, but the amazing Patriots’ loss to the Giants in the 2008 Super Bowl just had to find a place on this list, even sitting on the 10th.

NY were going up against an unbeaten team, a team that went 18-0 to the final, one of the greatest teams in the NFL history. Nonetheless, the stats counted for little as the brave Giants pulled off one of the best defensive efforts the game has ever seen. They held mighty Pats to just 14 points, sacking arguably the best quarterback ever, Tom Brady, hefty five times along the way.

Although they were down and had 83 yards to go with two minutes left, they managed a miracle thanks to a brilliant Eli Manning pass to Plaxico Burress for a shocking touchdown and a spectacular 17-14 victory at the end. Las Vegas sportsbooks lost $2.6 million on Super Bowl bets as 60% of the money wagered was placed to the Giants win.

9 – 16th Seed Destroys the Top Seed by a 20-Point Margin in the NCAA Tournament

You will rarely see an upset in an NCAA affair. Obviously, anything can happen in March Madness, but usually, the top seeds tend to go to the latest stages of the event.

A miracle, however, occurred on March 16th, 2018, when the No 16 seed faced the nation’s strongest outfit in the opening round. The University of Maryland, Baltimore County Retrievers entered the game knowing the No 16 seeds had gone 0-135 all-time against top seeds. Can you calculate the odds? No 16th seed has ever beaten the first seed. Not a single time in 135 games.

UMBC came into the match with a 24-10 record against a team that finished the regular season 31-2. Not only have the Retrievers pulled off an upset. They have done it in a miraculous style, outscoring the top-seeding side and the best defensive team in the league 53-33 in the second half for a shocking 74-54 victory at the end. Not bad for 25/1 underdogs we reckon.

8 – Undefeated, Undisputed Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson Gets Knocked Out for a 42/1 Upset

When someone would ask you to name a synonym for boxing, what would you say? With all due respect to the legends of the sport, the list would come down to two names. Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson. The latter holds the eighth place in our list of the most shocking outcomes in the history of sports.

Of course, not for his win. The year was 1990. The place was Tokyo, Japan. Mike Tyson was the undefeated, undisputed heavyweight champion of the world going up against the No 7 heavyweight contender Buster Douglas.

Everyone expected a quick finish in a one-way street for the Iron Mike. The sportsbooks offered humiliating 42/1 odds for Buster’s win. However, the opponent came out courageously as the momentum swung back and forth throughout the bout.

Miraculously, Mike was knocked down for the first time in the 10th round. The champion tried to get back to his feet, but unsuccessfully. The referee counted him out to mark the greatest odds upset in the history of boxing.

7 – Greece Shock the Continent at Euro 2004

Greece, European Champions 2004

Greece, European Champions 2004

Who are the European soccer heavyweights? England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Portugal? We could go on and on before even thinking of Greece. But after all, that is the beauty of sports.

Greece were 80/1 underdogs to win the Euro 2004. They held the World No 35 spot at the time. However, they defied the odds and pulled off the biggest upset in 150-year football history.

Led by a German mastermind Otto Rehhagel, the Greeks found the way. They shocked hosts Portugal 1-2 at the start, held Spain to a 1-1 draw, and fell 2-1 to Russia, a record good enough to secure them second place in the group. They then stunned the main favorites France 1-0 in the quarterfinal before dispatching the Czech Republic with the same scoreline after the extra-time in the semis.

They went up against the hosts Portugal for the second time, now in the great final. Once again, Greece kept a clean sheet as a single second-half goal from Angelos Charisteas made the difference. Three knockout-stage matches, each with the identical outcome, zero goals conceded en route. Talk about consistency.

6 – The Rams Win it All Being 300/1 Pre-Season Underdogs

St Louis Rams entered the 1999 NFL season on a low having finished the previous campaign 4-12. Not even the biggest fans believed they might catch a playoff spot after such a dreadful showing throughout the whole past season.

However, they shocked the league winning NFC with ease on the back of a 13-3 record. The Rams outplayed the rivals 526-242, earning the biggest scoring margin of any Super Bowl champion in the history of the competition.

Remember, they were 300/1 “favorites” to go all the way and win the title before the season kicked off. Nonetheless, they were simply fantastic on both ends of the pitch throughout the whole campaign.

They proved the experts wrong and maintain the superb spell of form in the post-season. Eventually, the Rams saw off Tennessee Titans 23-16 in the Super Bowl XXXIV to claim their first-ever title in this format.

5 – Stanford Beats USC for the most Shocking College Football Result in 2007

The fifth and fourth positions are reserved for college football. USC played host to Stanford in a conference game, having previously won 35 in a row in front of the home crowd at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC Trojans were the best team in America back in 2007.

They were as huge as 41-point favorites according to Nevada sportsbooks who did not even offer moneyline odds at all for the clash. You could have placed a moneyline pick only at illegal offshore betting sites. People say the odds for Stanford’s win went up to a whopping 350/1.

The fans were shocked even to see the Trojans having “only” a nine-point lead ahead of the fourth quarter. You can imagine how they felt after watching a stunning comeback directed by a sophomore quarterback who made his inaugural college start on the occasion. Stanford won 24-23, bringing the Trojans’ 35-win streak to an abrupt end.

4 – The Biggest Single-Game Upset in the College Football History

By point spreads, the 2018 Howard’s win over UNVL is the greatest shock in HBCU football history. And where else would it happen but in Las Vegas?

The Bison were 45-point underdogs when they traveled to face the Rebels. Ironically, the hosts paid Howard $600,000 just to make an appearance. Much like the case had been with Stanford in 2007, the Nevada sportsbooks did not offer moneyline odds at all for the game, expecting a commanding victory for the Rebels on the occasion.

Offshore operators, however, priced the Bison at brutal 600/1 to win the game. And that’s what Howard did, shockingly outscoring their rivals 43-40 in a point-galore. You all must have heard of Cam Newton, back then a Carolina Panthers star quarterback.

Well, his younger brother Caylin was the man who accumulated as many as 330 offensive yards and three touchdowns to inspire an amazing win.

3 – The Cards win the 2011 World Series for a 999/1 Betting Win

The top three spots are held by futures bets. The first one takes us back to 2011 when St. Louis Cardinals were four and a half games shy of the Atlanta Braves for the wild card position in the National League with just 15 games left. Back then, the Nevada sportsbooks had them at sky-high 999/1 to go all the way. A man reportedly took such odds placing a couple of wagers on the Cards to pull off a miracle. The rest is history.

Since that moment, St. Louis won 11 of 15 matches, a feat that combined with the Braves’ collapse pushed them into the play-offs. The Cards eventually went past Texas Rangers in a seven-game series to shockingly clinch the World Series title. Were you ever tempted to place a bet at 999/1 odds?

2 – “Do you believe in miracles? YES!”

Olympic Games are crème de la crème competition in most sports. There is no stronger tournament in almost all sports. It just can’t get better. Now, imagine a scenario in which a 1000/1 underdog beats by far the best team in the world at the time and scoops the miraculous title on such a massive occasion.

Well, it has happened. Just like that. It is called “Miracle on Ice”. The Soviet ice-hockey team have arrived in Lake Placid with four straight Olympic gold medals around their necks. They had the finest players of the game in the 1980 generation. They faced inexperienced Americans in the semi-final.

There is a moment not a single American will ever forget. At 3-3, with five seconds remaining, a commentator asked his colleague: “Do you believe in miracles?” At that very moment, the US team scores the match-winner and they both start yelling: “YES”. The US team completed the shocking journey with a 4-2 win over the Swedes in the final.

1 – 5000/1 Underdogs Leicester City win the Premier League Title

Leicester City, Premier League Champions 2015/2016

Leicester City, Premier League Champions 2015/2016

The Premier League era began in 1992. Since then, only five teams had won the title. Blackburn, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City. The Rovers are outliers but they had a strong squad at the time and were nowhere near being heavy underdogs.

Winning a Premier League title requires an amazing set of performances against some of the best teams in the world throughout the whole 38-game season. This is why Leicester City, who have never previously been anywhere near Top 4 teams, were 5000/1 underdogs to lift the trophy before the season kicked off.

Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, and N’Golo Kante were the main catalysts, Claudio Ranieri was the boss. These names are written in the Premier League history books. These names will be there forever. For the most surreal and incredible season any team has ever had. In any competition. In any sport.

The Top Ten Biggest Odds Upsets of All Time

1. 5000/1 – Leicester City, 2015/16

2. 1000/1 – US Hockey Team, 1980

3. 999/1 – St. Louis Cardinals, 2011

4. 600/1 – Howard Bison, 2018

5. 350/1 – Stanford, 2007

6. 300/1 – St. Louis Rams, 1999

7. 80/1 – Greece, 2004

8. 42/1 – Buster Douglas, 1990

9. 25/1 – UMBC Retrievers, 2018

10. 3.75/1 – NY Giants, 2008

Martin Efvergren
Martin is a sports betting professional who provides initiated betting picks and predictions. His primary focus is on NHL picks, sportsbook promotions, and casino stories.