Double-Digit Underdogs are on the Right Side of History
We are a little over 24-hours away from kickoff at the 2023 CFP National Championship Game at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, pitting the TCU Horned Frogs against the defending national champion Georgia Bulldogs.
The Horned Frogs are double-digit (13-point) underdogs.
But history has shown that teams not heavily favored in winning the championship have done just that.
2003 BCS National Championship Game: Ohio State 31 — Miami 24
The Miami Hurricanes were the preseason #1 team heading into the 2002 season. They held that #1 ranking every week except one (they fell to #2 the week of November 3rd). Miami was 12–0 going into the Fiesta Bowl vs Ohio State (13–0).
The Buckeyes were 11.5-point underdogs.
The game ended in a double-overtime thriller, as Ohio State came away with a 31–24 win.
The Hurricanes, with NFL talent throughout its roster, couldn’t overcome 5 turnovers, nor the loss of RB Willis McGahee to a severe knee injury (he tore 3 of the 4 ligaments in his knee).
The Canes managed just 65 net yards rushing for the game and one touchdown on the ground (McGahee ran for 67 yards and a that lone rushing TD).
QB Ken Dorsey completed 28 of 43 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns, and two INTs.
S Sean Taylor was the star for the Hurricanes defense as he intercepted two Ohio State passes.
The Buckeyes gained just 267 total yards. QB Craig Krenzel scored two rushing touchdowns. RB Maurice Clarett also scored two touchdowns on the ground.
1st Overtime Period-Ohio State 17— Miami 17
A Dorsey to Kellen Winslow touchdown pass put the Canes up 24–17 in the first OT period. On the Buckeyes possession, a controversial pass interference penalty on Miami gave Ohio State new life with first and goal. Krenzel scored on a 1-yard run to tie the game at 24–24.
2nd Overtime Period-Ohio State 31 — Miami 24
The Buckeyes possessed the ball first in the 2nd OT period, and Clarett scored on a 5-yard run to put Ohio State ahead 31–24.
On the ensuing possession, Miami failed to gain significant yardage on their first three plays. On 4th down, Dorsey’s pass fell incomplete.
Final score: Ohio State 31-Miami 24.
2001 BCS National Championship Game-Oklahoma 13 — Florida State 2
Miami and the Orange Bowl was the site of the 2001 BCS National Championship Game. Oklahoma was undefeated at 12–0, while Florida State came in with a 11–1 record. The Seminoles were the defending national champions.
Oklahoma was a 10.5-point underdog.
Florida State averaged 42 points per game in the regular season. The Sooners averaged 39 points per game. But this was a real snooze fest as far as championship games go. Oklahoma took a 3–0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Sooners RB Quentin Griffith added a 10-yard TD run in the second half and K Tim Duncan converted another field goal attempt. That was all the scoring by Oklahoma.
Florida State didn’t get on the scoreboard until 55 seconds left in the game and that was via a safety. They managed just 27 yards rushing and committed three turnovers in the game.
Final score: Oklahoma 13-Florida State 2.
The championship win came in head coach Bob Stoops second season in Norman.
The loss for the Seminoles marked the end of a 14-year period of finishing in the Top 4. They did not finish in the Top 4 again until 2013 when they won the final championship in the BCS era.
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