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Biggest Upsets & Scandals In Sports Betting History (USA)

Author: americangambler | Last Updated: November 29, 2020

According to sporting lore, using the term upset to characterize a shocking outcome in an event was coined at the Sanford Memorial in Saratoga, N.Y. on Aug. 13, 1919. That day, a little-regarded horse named Upset handed the mighty Man O’ War his only career loss at odds of 100-1.

Regardless of whether the story is legit or not, the fact of the matter is that nothing stirs the emotions of a sports fan like a shocking outcome. As the old saying goes, it’s why they play the games.

An upsetting finish is even more rewarding if you’ve placed a wager on it happening at your favorite online sports betting site.

Here are some of the most stunning results in the US sports history

Super Bowl III

The Baltimore Colts were an NFL powerhouse in 1968. They went 13-1 during the regular season. Quarterback Earl Morrall, pressed into service when starter John Unitas was injured, was named NFL MVP. In the NFL Championship Game, Baltimore earned the right to represent the league in Super Bowl III by drubbing the Cleveland Browns 34-0.

Super bowl iii - wikipedia

The NFL had also crushed the upstart AFL in the first two Super Bowl games by an average margin of 22 points. Oddsmakers anticipated that would continue in Super Bowl III. The Colts were overwhelming 18-point favorites over the AFL champion New York Jets.

However, the Jets had other ideas. In fact, Jets QB Joe Namath boldly guaranteed victory and then delivered on that promise. Matt Snell ran for 121 yards and a touchdown, Jim Turner booted three field goals and the Jets picked off Morrall three times in a stunning 16-7 victory. 

1980 WInter Olympics Hockey

A year earlier, the mighty Big Red Machine that was the ice hockey team of the Soviet Union had crushed the NHL All-Stars 6-0 in the deciding game of the Challenge Cup series at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Three days prior to the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., the Russians whipped Team USA 10-3 on the same MSG ice surface.

The Russians were world champions. The USA was listed at 1,000-1 odds to win the gold medal. The American team was a rag-tag bunch of college kids. When the two teams clashed in the medal round of the Olympic tournament, The USA was 4-0-1 and the Russians were 5-0. 

On this day, though, thanks to 39 saves from goalie Jim Craig and a third-period goal from captain Mike Eruzione, the Americans stunned Russia and the hockey world with a 4-3 victory, paving their way to a gold-medal triumph.

1985 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship

Villanova entered the 1985 NCAA Tournament an eight seed. Georgetown arrived as the overwhelming favorite to be the last team standing when the Final Four was done. The Hoyas went 35-2 that year and were led by future NBA star Patrick Ewing.

It’s often said that Villanova played a perfect game the night of April 1, 1985. They shot 22-of-28 from the field (78.6 percent) for the game, and 90 percent (9-of-10) in the second half. And that was how good they needed to be to get the better of the Hoyas. Led by Ed Pinckney’s 16 points, the Wildcats, eight-point underdogs, edged Georgetown 66-64.

Buster Douglas Knocking Out Mike Tyson

Was there a more menacing presence in sports than Mike Tyson during his reign as undisputed heavyweight champion? As he stepped into the ring in Tokyo the night of Feb. 11, 1990, Tyson was 37-0 with 33 knockouts.

Journeyman James (Buster) Douglas was expected to be nothing more than another notch on Tyson’s title belt. He came into the bout 29-4-1 but his only win of any note was over Trevor Berbick, the fighter Tyson beat to win the title in 1986.

Surprisingly, the 42-1 longshot carried the fight to the champ. Tyson’s left eye was swollen shut but it looked as though Tyson would save the day when he dropped Douglas in the eighth round. The challenger got to his feet at the count of nine. Then in the 10th round, Douglas unleashed a flurry of punches that put Tyson down for the first time in his career. He didn’t get up and Douglas was the shock heavyweight champ of the world. 

Biggest Scandals In Sports Betting History

There’s big money in play in the world of sports and for that reason, there have been occasions when nefarious characters have sought to put the fix in and affect the outcome of certain events. 

In other scenarios, players involved in the games – including some of the most famous athletes in their sport – have sullied their reputation by betting on the games in which they were involved, creating suspicion as to whether the outcome was on the up and up.

These are the biggest betting scandals in sports history but ultimately, perhaps the best news is that those who sullied the game got caught in the act, proving succinctly that crime doesn’t pay.

1919 World Series

Known forever after as the Black Sox Scandal, eight members of the 1919 American League champion Chicago White Sox – pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Wiliams, outfielder Joe Jackson, third baseman Buck Weaver, first baseman Chick Gandil, shortstop Swede Risberg, second baseman Hap Felsch, and utility infidlder Fred McMullin – were banned for life from baseball after conspiring with gamblers to throw the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.

Billy Taylor & Don Gallinger

In 1948, NHL President Clarence Campbell revealed that evidence had come to light through the arrest of known Detroit gambler James Tamer that two members of the Boston Bruins, forwards Don Gallinger and Billy Taylor, had bet against their own team. Both players were suspended for life. Two years earlier, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Babe Pratt, the 1943-44 NHL MVP, was also found to have gambled on games. Since he’d only bet on the Leafs to win, NHL President Red Dutton issued only a nine-game suspension to Pratt.

NCAA Basketball

In 1951, 32 college basketball players from seven prominent schools, including Kentucky and NCAA champion CCNY, were found to be involved in a long-running point-shaving scandal operated by the New York mob. The NCAA suspended Kentucky’s basketball program for the 1952-53 season.

Paul Hornung & Alex Karras

Green Bay Packers running back Paul Hornung was a former NFL MVP and held the league’s single-season scoring record for 46 years. Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras was an All-Pro and among the game’s most feared defenders. Both admitted to placing as much as $500 wagers on various NFL games over the course of several years. They’d never bet against their own teams. Nonetheless, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle suspended each player for the entire 1963 season.

Pete Rose

Baseball’s all-time hits leader bet both as a player and while he was manager of the Cincinnati Reds. He was banned for life from baseball in 1989. Rose denied all charges for 15 years before finally admitting his guilt, though he continued claiming to have never bet on games while he was playing. This is also soon proven to be not true.