Much is being made of how lopsided everyone expects Sunday’s game to be between Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos and the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars.
One team, after all, is 5-0 and scored 51 points last weekend. The other is 0-5 and scored a grand total of 51 points all season. One team has Manning and his TD-interception ratio of 20-1. The other has backup quarterback Chad Henne and his 2-2 ratio.
So how big a deal would it be if the Jaguars actually beat the Broncos? The stakes are not high _ it’s simply Week 6 in a 16-game regular season _ but it sure would be unexpected. That sort of thing does happen occasionally. It’s called an “upset,” and the chance of one is a big reason we watch even the supposedly unfair matchups (at least until the score is 42-6 at halftime …).
Here’s a Pick 6 of memorable, major upsets around the world of sports:
NEW YORK JETS BEAT BALTIMORE COLTS, 1969 SUPER BOWL: Let’s start with an example from professional football, and a step on the way to the NFL’s stratospheric popularity. Joe Namath, the quarterback of the Jets, famously issues a “guarantee” that his AFL upstarts will beat the NFL’s Colts despite being more than two-touchdown underdogs _ and he’s right. New York’s 16-7 victory shows the AFL is ready for a merger and helps make “Broadway Joe” an icon.
U.S. BEATS THE U.S.S.R. IN ICE HOCKEY, 1980 OLYMPICS: The Miracle on Ice. Jim Craig, Mike Eruzione and the rest of coach Herb Brooks’ squad of amateurs stuns the feared Soviets 4-3 en route to _ although not for _ the gold medal. The game’s significance stretches beyond a rink in Lake Placid because of the Cold War, the hostages in Iran, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the energy crisis, and a general malaise hanging over the United States.
CHAMINADE BEATS RALPH SAMPSON AND VIRGINIA, 1982. Chaminade boasts all of 800 students, plays at the NAIA _ not NCAA _ level at the time, and does not even have its own gymnasium (it rents one from a high school). And yet the Silverswords, coming off a loss to Wayland Baptist, manage to shock No. 1-ranked Virginia and the 7-foot-4 Sampson, a three-time national college basketball player of the year, 77-72.
JAMES `BUSTER’ DOUGLAS BEATS MIKE TYSON, 1990: Douglas knocks out Tyson in the 10th round of their scheduled 12-round fight in Tokyo. Tyson, the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history, comes into the bout 37-0 with 33 knockouts, while the unknown Douglas is 29-4-1 with 19 KOs.
RULON GARDNER BEATS ALEXANDER KARELIN, 2000 OLYMPICS: Gardner, an American heavyweight in Greco-Roman wrestling, wins a gold medal at the Sydney Games by stopping Russian Alexander Karelin’s 13-year unbeaten streak. Karelin enters with three Olympic titles already and is considered a lock for a fourth.
NEW YORK GIANTS BEAT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, 2008 SUPER BOWL: Only seems right to finish this list with an NFL game. The Patriots, quarterbacked by Tom Brady and coached by Bill Belichick, boast an unprecedented 18-0 record heading in and are 12-point favorites. But thanks in part to David Tyree’s helmet-catch of a desperation pass from MVP Eli Manning, the Giants pull off the 17-14 surprise.
BONUS: A half-dozen is a small sampling, so here’s an extra six: BOISE STATE of the Western Athletic Conference beats Big 12 stalwart Oklahoma 43-42 in overtime at the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, a BCS-buster if there ever was one; the game features a bevy of trick plays and even a marriage proposal. FRANCIS OUIMET, a 20-year-old local amateur, beats two of golf’s dominant figures, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, in a playoff at the 1913 U.S. Open; the stunning victory puts the sport on the front pages of American newspapers for the first time. In a more recent example, JOHN DALY wins the 1991 PGA Championship as a PGA Tour rookie after getting into the field as an alternate. In tennis, zero-time major champ ROBIN SODERLING beats Rafael Nadal at the 2009 French Open, ending Nadal’s 31-match winning streak there; it remains Nadal’s only loss at Roland Garros, where he is 59-1 with a record eight championships. THE U.S. SOCCER TEAM stuns England 1-0 at the 1950 World Cup on a goal by Joe Gaetjens, a result so unfathomable that some English newspapers assume wire reports are mistaken and instead print that their lads won the game. In horse racing, MAN O’WAR loses for the only time in 21 career starts in the 1919 Sanford Memorial at Saratoga. The name of the horse that wins the race? Upset.
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