Memorable Upsets of the
Memorable Upsets of the Pacific
For decades, the term "unlikely"
frequently has defined football finishes in the Pacific-10 conference. The fact
that we never "know" what will happen in a given game always adds to the sheer
intensity that is college football on the
Back when the running game dominated
how most college teams moved the ball, the pass became the left coast squads'
preferred method of movement. The traditional gridiron powers exist in sleepy
college hollows, but in most cases, the West Coast's establishment shares metro
areas with NFL franchises. And who would have thought that a failed NFL coach,
upon arrival at a school known as "
It is the ever-present element of surprise that forms the common ground here, prompting an impromptu profile of the some of the biggest upsets involving Pac-10 teams in recent memory. The outcome of the Cardinal's most recent visit to the L.A. Coliseum, together of course with the famous Rose Bowl wins on New Year's of 1971 and 1972, sit right alongside the five very "unlikely" outcomes listed here:
When: September 21. 1996
Why It's On The List: It put to rest in startling fashion a 26-game winning streak of the two-time defending national champion Cornhuskers, who hadn't lost a regular-season game in four years. The Solar Satans recorded three safeties in front of a sellout home crowd that had every right to tear down both goalposts during the postgame party.
Only on scattered cable systems
across the country could TV viewers see the most significant win of ASU's 11-0
regular season of ‘96. What much of the country missed was an outcome that
reduced Husker tailback Ahman Green to tears by game's end. QB Jake "The Snake"
Plummer led ASU on an 80-yard
touchdown drive to start the game, the only points the Pat Tillman and Derrick
Rodgers-led defense would need. The more than 30,000
Years later, as his NFL career wound down, Plummer still gloated over the stunning shutout. He joked that the double-sided ‘N' logo on the Huskers' helmet stood for "Nineteen" and "Nothing." Wouldn't recommend any hard-drinkin' in Lincoln, Jake.
When: October 29, 1994
Why It's On The List: Consider the
game's history-swinging impact - consider what the Quackers were before –
and have turned into since. By holding No. 11 Arizona to 39 yards and two first
downs in the second half,
Sports Illustrated had given defending Fiesta Bowl
Who: Cal 17, Stanford 11
When: Nov. 22, 1986
Why It's On The List: A lesson to
every Stanford team with a hint of overconfidence. A Gator Bowl invitation in
hand, the Cardinal (7-2) surrendered the Axe to a 1-9
Kapp coached his last game after being fired just days before. The Bears also played a back-up quarterback (Kevin Brown), who was only under center because USC had pulverized Bear quarterback Troy Taylor's jaw a week earlier. Stanford entered the contest as a 17-point favorite. The visiting Cardinal took the opening kickoff right down the field, only to shank on a 21-yard field goal attempt. Bad omen.
The inspired Bears never trailed, sacking sore-armed senior quarterback John Paye seven times. The Cardinal never even crossed the goal line until five minutes remained in the final quarter.
When: October 19. 1985
Why It's On The List: Upsets of
Washington just didn't happen back in the 80s. The Huskies had gone to two Rose
Bowls and an Orange Bowl between 1980 and 1984. Their collective opponents had
won all of six games during that same span. "The Beavers play football the way
Barney Fife plays deputy," wrote one
The 37-point favorite Huskies were nursing a 20-14 in the closing minutes when they punted from near their own goal line.
Up the middle burst OSU's Andre Todd, who smothered the boot and sent it scooting toward the end zone. Defensive back LaVance Northington corralled the pigskin for the touchdown.
The beautiful Beavs (2-4) then converted on the extra point to take the improbable lead.
Quarterback Hugh Millen had helped
Who: UCLA 23,
When: Jan. 1. 1976
Why It's On The List: For six
straight weeks leading up to this Rose Bowl, the Buckeyes (11-0) had been the
nation's No. 1 team. Archie Griffin had won his second-straight Heisman. UCLA
(8-2-1) had enjoyed a storybook season under Dick Vermeil, but the Bruins had
already lost 41-20 to the Bucks in September. And
UCLA held firm in the first half while gaining only 39 total yards. The Buckeyes led 3-0 at halftime, but proceeded to be swallowed whole in the final two quarters. The Bruins concocted a stunning reversal, outgaining their favored Big 10 foes 414-298 in total yards.
Ever the good sportsman, legendary
curmudgeon Woody Hayes ordered his team not to speak to reporters after the
game. Vermeil had the last word with those who thought
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