New York Jets def. Baltimore Colts – Super Bowl III in 1969:
There are few more iconic upsets than the one that took place at Super Bowl III in 1969. Of course, that was where ‘Broadway’ Joe Namath guaranteed his team would top the favored Colts in the game, and they did.
It wasn’t too pretty. The Jets won by a score of 16-7 thanks to a single touchdown run and three field goals. Namath went 17-of-28 passing for 206 yards. Of course, he was named the game’s most valuable player. He was the first player to win the award at the Super Bowl without accounting for a touchdown for his team. The Jets defense may have been the unsung heroes of the game, as they picked off Colts quarterback Earl Morrall three times to help seal the win. But it was and will be Namath’s guarantee of victory that will go down in NFL history.
Buster Douglas Knocks Out ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson – 1990:
There’s no denying that Andy Ruiz Jr.’s knockout of Anthony Joshua was a shocking spectacle to say the least. However, there’s just not another boxing upset that could top this one. Mike Tyson met Buster Douglas, in Tokyo on February 11, 1990. ‘Iron’ Mike was unbeaten and a feared a boxer as there ever was. He had dominated the heavyweight division for three years prior. His fight with Douglas was largely thought of as a mere setup fight for a showdown with the also-undefeated Evander Holyfield.
So no one gave 42-to-1 dog Douglas much of a chance. How could they have, really? Douglas controlled the action from the outset, peppering Tyson with endless jabs. The strikes took their toll and Tyson’s eye began to sell shut, something his corner was not prepared for. Tyson knocked Douglas down in the eighth round, but Douglas came back. He landed a ton of damage in the ninth round and Tyson was in trouble heading into the tenth. A monster uppercut rocked Tyson, and a four-punch combo sealed the deal for the biggest upset in boxing history.
United States def. Russia – 1980 Winter Olympics Hockey Semifinals:
There just is no other upset that could be listed number one on this list. This is the upset in sports history.
The Russian team was heavily favored to win the gold heading into the 1980 Winter Olympics from Lake Placid, New York, and for good reason. The Russians won five of the six previous Olympic gold medals in ice hockey. They met up with the much less experienced U.S. team in the semifinals.
What happened there was sports history in the fullest sense. The Americans, facing a 3-2 deficit heading into the final period, put two goals on the board to emerge with the miraculous 4-3 victory. The win became known as the iconic ‘Miracle on Ice’ and will almost certainly be the biggest sports upset of all-time for the rest of time.