TCU National Championship Upset Would Be America’s Biggest Underdog Win Ever
Photo via Action Network art department. Pictured: Max Duggan.
It won’t be easy — certainly not as nearly two-touchdown underdogs. But if the TCU Horned Frogs can find a way to beat the Georgia Bulldogs in Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game, it would be America’s biggest underdog win ever.
TCU was a consensus 200-1 underdog to win the CFP National Championship before the 2022 season started. That would surpass the 1999-00 Rams for the biggest underdog to win a championship in American sports for as far back as Action Network research is able to find.
Those Rams were 150-1. Behind them, the 1991 Minnesota Twins won the World Series as 80-1 underdogs, with the 2003 Florida Marlins winning it all at 75-1 preseason odds.
In the NBA, the 2014-15 Golden State Warriors are the biggest underdogs to win a championship at 28-1, while the 2005 Carolina Hurricanes (60-1) hold that honor in the NHL.
All historical data courtesy of Action Network research. NFL records since 1977; NBA and NHL records since 1984; MLB records since 1985; CFB and CBB records since 2001.
Longest Odds in College Football History
The Horned Frogs were the biggest longshot to make the dance since the playoff’s inception in 2014.
Longest Preseason Title Odds — Teams to Reach College Football Playoff
- 200-1, TCU 2022
- 150-1, Cincinnati 2021 (L Semis)
- 100-1, Michigan 2021 (L Semis)
- 50-1, Michigan 2022 (L Semis)
- 40-1, Ohio State 2014 (Won Title)
- 30-1, Notre Dame 2018 (L Semis)
- 30-1, Clemson 2017 (L Semis)
- 30-1, Washington 2016 (L Semis)
- 30-1, Oklahoma 2015 (L Semis)
Six of the previous seven teams to reach the College Football Playoff with odds of 30-1 or higher lost in the semifinal, with the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes being the lone team to make it to the title game, which they ended up winning.
In the preseason, TCU’s odds of 200-1 to win it all were shared by these teams as well (finishing record on moneyline):
- Iowa State: 4-8 SU
- West Virginia: 5-7 SU
- Louisiana: 6-7 SU
- Utah State: 6-7 SU
TCU is looking to win its third national title and first since 1938. That 1938 team was led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Davey O’Brien. TCU quarterback Max Duggan was the 2022 Heisman runner-up while also becoming the first Horned Frog to win the Davey O’Brien Award.
TCU is also looking to become just the fifth team — and the first since Michigan State in 1962 — to win a national title after having a losing record the previous season.
A TCU victory would make Sonny Dykes just the second college football head coach in history to win 14 games in his first season, joining George Washington Woodruff for Penn in 1892.
Since 1992, when college football started having teams compete for National Championships in an actual game rather than polls crowning a champion, only three coaches have led their university’s football team to the national title game in their first season at the school.
The first coach to accomplish this feat was Larry Coker with the 2001 Miami Hurricanes. The second was Gus Malzahn with the 2013 Auburn Tigers. Dykes and the 2022 TCU Horned Frogs are the third.
If you’re looking for a bigger underdog than TCU, you only have to go back to the BCS to find a longshot that came just short.
In 2013, behind quarterback Nick Marshall and head coach Gus Malzahn, Auburn opened the season as 500-1 longshots to win it all after going 3-9 and 0-8 in the SEC the year before.
The Tigers made it all the way to the title game in the final year of the BCS before losing to Jameis Winston and Florida State in the final seconds.
📅 Jan. 6, 2014: On this date 6 years ago — The BCS came to an end…
Auburn vs. Florida State (-12 | O/U: 67)
Down 31-27 w/17 sec left .. It was Jameis for the perfect season 📽️: pic.twitter.com/f3mG89uN50
— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) January 6, 2020
Of course, there’s one caveat to the record-setting nature of a potential TCU National Championship. Lest we forget, Leicester City were 5000-1 to win the English Premier League in 2016 and pulled off one of the most incredible feats in sports history.
While TCU’s run isn’t quite on that mind-boggling level, the Horned Frogs deserve all the credit in the world for such an incredible run. Think they can finish it off? Click below to bet the Horned Frogs moneyline in the National Championship instantly at FanDuel.
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