Beware the Splinters is Salute Magazine’s weekly sports column, authored by Sports Editor Dustin Brown. The column is a weekly look at something that has ruffled the feathers of Mr. Brown or is a topic he feels he needs to rant about or discuss. Coming up this week is a look at the first few weeks of the NCAA Football season, and some teams that have suffered humiliating losses at home.
College football has never been a sport that shies away from humiliation at the hands of double-digit underdogs. While it has nothing on its counterpart in college basketball, there are still plenty of games that leave fans, players and coaches scratching their heads and asking “What happened?”
This season has already provided us the benefit of seeing four different home teams that were tremendous favorites (30-plus points) lose in humiliating fashion in front of their home crowds. Which teams have the dishonor of being associated with these humiliating losses?
Liberty (-35 points) at Baylor
The Flames came out and shocked the Baylor Bears — the world — with a 48-45 win at Baylor in Week One. Quarterback Stephen Calvert was phenomenal in the upset, going 44-of-60 with 447 yards and three touchdowns. And wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden lived up to his last name with 13 receptions for 192 yards and two touchdown catches.
Baylor could not shutdown the Liberty offense in the high-scoring shootout, but it is something that can happen in college football. The game was tied 17-17 at the half, but Liberty used several big plays in the second half to secure the upset.
Maryland (-19 points) at No. 23 Texas
What a disaster this game was for the Longhorns. Although they were able to keep the game close until late, the Terrapins beat the Longhorns 51-41 after being almost a 20-point underdog. Texas coach Tom Herman left University of Houston for a dream job in Austin, but it started off as a nightmare.
Texas allowed six plays of over 20 yards in the game (including a 71-yard blocked field goal return for a touchdown), and were down 51-34 until a little over one minute was left in the game. The Longhorns had plenty of big plays themselves (five over 20 yards), which included a 31-yard pick-six, 61-yard blocked field goal return and 91-yard punt return, but they were simply outplayed.
Howard (-45 points) at UNLV
The Runnin’ Rebels were chased off their home field by the boo birds following a historic loss to Howard. And it wasn’t just any loss, rather the biggest upset by point spread in NCAA history. A 43-40 win by the road team happened largely because of quarterback Caylin Newton — Cam Newton‘s younger brother — and his 330 total yards for the Bison.
Not only did Howard, an FCS school, beat UNLV in Las Vegas, they also received a $600,000 payout for their road game at UNLV as part of the deal. Game payouts are part of the “guaranteed” games that involve lesser schools, but Howard was actually adding insult to injury with the win and the payout.
Idaho State (-33.5 points) at Nevada
Three turnovers and a 30-7 hole for the Wolf Pack were too much to overcome for the home team, and was the second time this season that a team in Nevada lost to a 33-plus point underdog at home. Not a good look for the state’s two biggest universities, and fans were left in shock on both occasions.
Nevada is now 0-3 but their home loss at the hands of Idaho State is still stinging the locals in Reno, Nevada. With a new head coach in Jay Norvell, Nevada had the opportunity to put their inconsistent past behind them to start 2017. However, losses at Northwestern and at home to Toledo and Idaho State, the Wolf Pack is heading into their game with Washington State with their tail between their legs.
The loss also prevents Nevada from relishing the Howard win over their rivals earlier in the season, and use it as cannon fodder in their battle for the Fremont Cannon.