Everybody loves an underdog. We were all pulling for David to slay Goliath in our 5-year-old Sunday school class. We were certainly all pulling for the glass slipper to fit on Cinderella’s foot. The same applies to sports — we all love a good upset.
I’ve lived through several odds-defying performances in my time of sports fandom, so here are a few of my favorites:
1. Appalachian State over Michigan — 2006
No one had heard of this Division I-AA school from North Carolina until a blocked field goal gave it a 34-32 win over 5th-ranked Michigan in 2006. The Appalachian State radio call of the game’s last few seconds can only be described as incredible and is only a Youtube search away. Enjoy.
2. Butler University — 2010, 2011 NCAA Tournament
If you didn’t love seeing Brad Stephens coach a bunch of white boys to back-to-back championship games, then I’m not sure you have a heart. Members of the Horizon league, the Butler Bulldogs suprised March Madness fans by stymieing the offenses of top seed after top seed in 2010 and 2011.
3. New York Giants over New England Patriots — Super Bowl XLII
The Pats were 12-point favorites and a win away from a perfect season. The Giants were 10-6 and didn’t even win their division. So when Eli Manning, David Tyree and company became the first wild card team to win a Super Bowl, the world was shocked. As was 8th-grade Caleb, who still owes a friend $100 based on this game’s results.
4. Georgia State over Baylor — 2015 NCAA Tournament
Georgia State head coach Ron Hunter sat on a stool on the sideline because of a foot injury he acquired while celebrating the team’s NCAA tournament berth. When his son, R.J., hit a game-winning three-pointer to beat 3-seed Baylor, coach Hunter literally fell off his stool. You can’t make this stuff up.
5. Robin Soderling over Rafael Nadal — 2009 French Open
“The King of Clay” had never lost at Roland Garros and was coming off a 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 thrashing of Roger Federer in the 2008 final. But on this windy day, he was overpowered on his favorite surface by a Swede who had never been past the third round at a major tournament.
6. St. Louis Cardinals — 2011 World Series
Yes, I’m biased. But when the Cardinals trailed the Braves by five games for the wild card spot with 10 games left in 2011, their odds of winning a World Series were 999-1. A month and a half later, the team was hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy. In the words of Fox commentator Joe Buck, “What a team, what a ride.”