When Minnesota, facing a 14-10 deficit, gained possession at their own 42-yard-line with 17 seconds remaining against Bowling Green in Week 4, the spread wasn’t in play. As a 30.5-point favorite one week after blanking Colorado, 30-0, the Gophers were attempting to avoid one of the biggest point-spread upsets in college football betting history.
They couldn’t do it; the Falcons intercepted Tanner Morgan on the first play of the drive to clinch the biggest upset through the first month of the college football season. And it remained (tied for) the biggest upset of nearly 900 regular-season FBS games in 2021.
More than 200 of those games had a spread of at least 20 points. Bowling Green’s victory was one of only 10 that featured an outright underdog winner. Here were the 10 biggest point-spread upsets in college football betting this season:
10. ETSU (+21) at Vanderbilt
East Tennessee State was the only underdog (FCS or FBS) at least 20 points to defeat an FBS team by at least 20 points this season.
The Buccaneers ran for 179 yards and forced three turnovers in a Week 1 win over Vanderbilt, spoiling Clark Lea’s first game as Commodores’ head coach. It was their first win over an FBS opponent since 1987 (North Carolina State).
9. Montana (+22.5) at Washington
Montana allowed a touchdown on Washington’s first possession and trailed for the next 50 minutes before scoring 10 fourth-quarter points to shock the 20th-ranked Huskies.
It was the first win for an FCS team over an AP-ranked FBS team since North Dakota State beat No. 13 Iowa in 2016.
8(t). UC Davis (+23.5) at Tulsa
Tulsa was dominant against the spread in 2020, covering in seven of their nine games and posting the 11th-best average cover margin (+7.2 points) in the country.
They flopped to open 2021, committing 12 penalties and three turnovers in a 19-17 loss to UC Davis.
8(t). Rice (+23.5) at UAB
Since 2015, there have been only two points-spread upsets of at least 20 points in Conference USA games. Rice owns both of them.
One year after beating Marshall, 20-0, as a 24.5-point road dog, the Owls beat UAB, 30-24, as a 23-point road dog.
8(t). UL Monroe (+23.5) vs. Troy
Sun Belt teams shock Power Five teams, not fellow Sun Belt teams.
In snapping an eight-game Sun Belt losing streak with a 13-point home win over Troy in Week 4, UL Monroe delivered the biggest point-spread upset in a conference game in the last two decades.
5. Northern Arizona (+24.5) at Arizona
Northern Arizona beat Arizona, 7-6, in Phoenix in 1932. The Lumberjacks lost to the Wildcats a year later in Tucson, the first of 14 straight losses against their in-state foe.
That streak ended with a 21-19 win in Week 3, the first Pac-12 win for an FCS program since Eastern Washington beat Washington State in 2016.
4. Jacksonville State (+27) at Florida State
Jacksonville State arrived at Florida State one week after the Seminoles nearly beat 2020 playoff participant Notre Dame. And the Gamecocks left with one of the most dramatic wins in college football history.
Damond Philyaw-Johnson’s 59-yard touchdown as time expired gave Jacksonville State their second FBS win in as many seasons.
3. Duquesne (+28.5) at Ohio
Duquesne erased an early 10-point deficit with 22 unanswered points en route to a 28-26 win over Ohio, who didn’t lose to an FCS team in 16 seasons under Frank Solich. In their second game without Solich – after his resignation two months early – the Bobcats lost to an FCS team for the first time since 2002 (Northeastern).
1(t). Kansas (+30.5) at Texas
Kansas has been an auto-fade for more than a decade, though the Jayhawks have found modest success against Texas over their period of futility. That continued with their first-ever win in Austin as they became the biggest dog winner in a conference game this season.
1(t). Bowling Green (+30.5) at Minnesota
Bowling Green’s win in Minneapolis was the fourth for a MAC underdog of at least 20 points over a Power Five team since 2005, though the previous three were dogs of only 20.5, 22.5, and 21.5 points, respectively.
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