Howard University Pulls off Biggest Spread Upset in College Football History

Posted on: September 4, 2017, 03:00h. 

Last updated on: September 4, 2017, 12:27h.

Howard University was a 45-point underdog entering Saturday night’s game in Las Vegas against UNLV. But that didn’t stop the small Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference team from pulling off the biggest spread upset in college football history.

Howard University UNLV college football
With a 45-point spread included, Howard University beat UNLV 88-40. (Image: MountainWest Sports Network)

Just 10 miles from the Strip, Sam Boyd Stadium played host to the biggest sports betting upset Nevada’s legalized sports betting industry has ever seen. Led by quarterback Caylin Newton, the younger brother of former Heisman Trophy winner and current Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newtown, the Howard Bison raced out to an early lead, lost it in the third, and then managed to come back in the fourth to upset the Rebels.

Las Vegas sportsbooks say the 45-point cover upended the Stanford win over USC in 2007 when the Cardinals were 40-point underdogs.

“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, unless you’re the underdog,” Newton declared, citing the city’s longtime marketing slogan.

Howard University, a historically black college, had won just three games over the last two seasons against 19 defeats. UNLV has also struggled, going 2-11, 3-9, and 4-8 over its last three years.

Newton, a dual-threat QB like his brother, passed for 140 yards and ran for 190.

Money Game 

As is so often the case in the early weeks of college football, Howard’s agreeing to play the supposedly better UNLV team came at a cost. Programs in power conferences look for schools to play to open the season that are often looked at as warmups to prepare for stronger competition.

Howard agreed to travel from Washington, DC, to the Nevada desert and get their butts whipped for $600,000. That was the fee for putting up with the expected 45-point beating. Instead, the Bison are going home with a week one victory, historic upset, and over half of a million dollars.

Las Vegas sportsbooks didn’t offer a straight moneyline on the Howard and UNLV game, but some online books did. And they’re paying out on a few lucky bets.

One Twitter user shared a $10 wager on Howard with the Bison at +42400. The fortunate ticket slip paid $4,240. Another person reportedly bet $25 on +55000, which won $13,750.

Week One Upsets

Howard wasn’t the only program to pull off the nearly unthinkable. Liberty University traveled to Texas to take on Baylor. The Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia, topped the Bears 48-45 to cover a 33-point spread, another all-time top 10 college football upset.

It’s certainly not the start new Baylor coach Matt Rhule wanted. But for Liberty University students, it extended their weekend. Controversial president Jerry Falwell Jr. announced that an approved after curfew welcoming home party would take place at 2 am on Sunday, and that Monday classes would be canceled in order to celebrate the team’s first ever win over a Power Five program.

Famed sports betting expert RJ Bell noted on Twitter that had a bettor placed a $100 parlay on both Howard and Liberty, the wager would have returned $4.1 million.