The 2017 college football season marks the 10-year anniversary of the sport’s most unpredictable and wild campaign; a season in which upsets became the standard throughout college football.
2017 has a high mark to meet if it’s to match the unpredictability or 2007, but the current campaign took one considerable step in that direction on opening weekend.
Howard University’s upset of UNLV into the late hours Saturday (early Sunday for those in the East) surpassed Stanford’s win at USC in ’07 as the single biggest in college football history, based on point spreads. The Bison were 45-point underdogs, a full touchdown (without extra point) more than Stanford at USC a decade ago.
And that 45-point line only applies to those sports books willing to take bets on FBS vs. FCS games.
The sheer magnitude based on point spread alone is impressive enough, but the feat’s magnified considering all that led Howard University football to a Week 1 win in the Las Vegas desert.
In the 46-year history of the MEAC, the Bison have won just two conference championships…well, one, considering the 2017 season marks the anniversary of another, less celebrated moment in college football history.
The first MEAC title in Howard history, won in 1987, was forfeit two years later after an internal investigation found three ineligible players helped the Bison to a 9-1 record.
Howard won an MEAC championship in 1993, but none since.
More recently, the university itself has endured struggles not uncommon in the HBCU community in the 21st century.
In 2012 — the same year the above linked New York Times piece references a $21 million overrun at the Howard University teaching hospital — rumors of Howard suspending its entire athletic department swirled.
Nothing came of the speculation, which was born of NCAA violations. The NCAA issued punishment in 2014, which included a $140,000 fine against the university.
It’s not an expenditure a university with budgetary concerns needs. It underscores the importance of scheduling games like Saturday’s trek from Washington D.C. to Las Vegas, where UNLV lured a 45-point underdog with the guarantee of a $600,000 paycheck.
Shame Howard couldn’t let that $600,000 ride on the Bison beating the Rebels, a la Peter Lafleur in Dodgeball.
Paychecks come and are unremarkable outside of the athletic departments that need them to fund their operations. A win the scale of Saturday’s is something that will put Howard football in the annals of college football history for the foreseeable future.