Jan. 8: Unranked Miami beats Duke on the road
Usually college basketball chaos dominates March, but the Hurricanes got a head start, beating the No. 2 Blue Devils 76–74. At the start of the 2021–22 season, the Hurricanes were predicted to finish 12th in the ACC, but got off to a hot 4-0 start in the conference. (They ended up finishing fourth in the ACC and made it to the Elite Eight as a 10-seed before being knocked off by future champion Kansas.)
Jan. 22: The 49ers send the Packers packing with a 13–10 upset
The top-seeded Packers were undefeated at home heading into the postseason, and a matchup with the 49ers looked like an easy win. Instead, San Francisco kicker Robbie Gould notched a 45-yard field goal in the final seconds of the game. The loss continued an unfortunate trend for Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who’s never won a playoff game against the 49ers as the Packers’ starter.
Feb. 17: UNC upsets Louisville in dramatic fashion
Another pre-March upset, this time from the women’s side. With a 66–65 win, the Tar Heels put an abrupt end to the No. 3 Cardinals’ seven-game winning streak. Louisville did manage to pop off two shots in the last five seconds of the game, but neither of them fell.
March 9: Texas State pitcher rubs it in with “horns down” gesture
The anti-Texas “horns down” gesture, normally a source of debate on the football field, made its way to the baseball diamond in 2022. Following a game-ending strikeout, Texas State closer Tristan Stivors decided to embarrass his in-state rivals further. Texas went into the game ranked No. 1 and had only lost one other game prior to the 6–4 upset.
March 17, March 19 and March 25: Saint Peter’s struts through the NCAA men’s tournament
March is defined by madness, and there was no team that initiated more madness than Saint Peter’s during last season’s NCAA tournament. The 15-seeded Peacocks upset No. 2 Kentucky on the first day of the tournament, and then kept on rolling with wins over No. 7 Murray State and No. 3 Purdue. Saint Peter’s finally fell to UNC in the Elite Eight, but by then the Peacocks had already captured the nation’s attention.
March 19: No. 1 Baylor falls in the second round
In a picture-perfect example of March Madness chaos, the defending champion Baylor Bears suffered a heartbreaking 93–86 loss to the No. 8 UNC Tar Heels in overtime. At points in the contest, Baylor trailed by 25 points, but scored a whopping 38 points in the final 10 minutes of regulation to tie up the game at 80. Still, the effort was not enough.
March 20: Creighton punches first-ever ticket to Sweet 16
Creighton women’s basketball faced a tough opponent—No. 2 Iowa—in the second round of the NCAA tournament. On the line was the Bluejays’ first program trip to the Sweet 16. In the end, the No. 10 Bluejays downed the Hawkeyes 64–62. After leading the majority of the game, Creighton was down in the fourth quarter before Lauren Jensen sank a three-pointer with 15 seconds remaining. The kicker? Jensen transferred from Iowa to Creighton in order to see more playing time.
May 6 and May 7: 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz stuns two tennis greats
In the two days following his birthday, Carlos Alcaraz gave himself two back-to-back presents: Wins over two of tennis’s biggest stars. On May 6, he beat Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open. The next day he took it a step further, upsetting the No. 1 player in the world, Novak Djokovic. With the wins, Alcaraz became the first tennis player to beat Nadal and Djokovic in back-to-back matches on clay.
May 7: Rich Strike and jockey Sonny Leon win the Kentucky Derby
Who saw Rich Strike coming? Certainly not the oddsmakers, who gave the thoroughbred just an 80–1 chance to win the race. The horse wasn’t even supposed to be in the derby in the first place (he got in when a competitor scratched the day before). But in the end, none of that mattered as Rich Strike barrelled to the finish line, cementing himself in history.
May 7: Dmitry Bivol keeps his light heavyweight title
Dmitry Bivol was the titleholder, but he certainly wasn’t the heavy favorite to down Canelo Álvarez, boxing’s pound-for-pound king. But leading up to the fight, Bivol expressed confidence that he would maintain his crown—and he was right. Delivering 12 rounds of textbook boxing, Bivol won by unanimous decision.
June 16: Warriors pull away to beat top-ranked Celtics
Can you really call a team’s fourth title in eight years an upset? You can in this context. Following two years of injuries, Steph Curry and the rest of the Warriors got to work, beating the Celtics in Boston during an electrifying Game 6. In addition to winning another ring, Curry was also named series MVP for the first time in his career.
Aug. 17: Liberty ends its playoff drought
In a stunning upset solidified by a late 13-0 run, the New York Liberty took down the two-seeded Chicago Sky in the first round of the WNBA playoffs. The 98-91 win was the Liberty’s first playoff victory since 2015. The victory was huge for both the players and first-year coach Sandy Brondello, who led them against the defending champion Sky.
Aug. 31: Serena Williams extends her legendary career
Serena Williams—who announced her retirement prior to the 2022 U.S. Open—is the indisputable women’s tennis GOAT, but she wasn’t expected to make it far in the tournament. After beating Danka Kovinić in her first match, she faced down stiffer competition in No. 2 Anett Kontaveit in the second round. It was a hard-fought match, but Williams proved she still had some fight left in her and took the match 7–6(4), 2–6, 6–2.
Sept. 5: Rafael Nadal falls to American Frances Tiafoe
Rafael Nadal’s 22-match win streak at Grand Slam tournaments was snapped by 22-seeded Frances Tiafoe at the U.S. Open in New York. (Nadal has won 22 majors, if we want to keep the theme going.) With his win, Tiafoe became the youngest American since 2006 to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinal.
Sept. 10: Marshall upsets Notre Dame in South Bend
The Thundering Herd entered their game against the Fighting Irish as a three-touchdown underdog—but left with a 26-21 victory over the then-No. 8 Notre Dame. And the Herd didn’t just get a statement win—the school was paid $1.25 million to embarrass the Irish and new head coach Marcus Freeman.
Sept. 10: Appalachian State beats top-10 opponent
Not to be outdone by Marshall, unranked App State also secured a big victory in Week 2. (The Mountaineers also got a big payday—$1.5 million dollars.) App State held the No. 6 Aggies to just 186 yards of offense en route to the 17–14 win. App State has a history of road upsets, most notably a 2007 win against Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Oct. 15: Tennessee beats Alabama 52–49
It didn’t take long for the goalposts to come down following the No. 6 Volunteers’ upset over rival Alabama. And fans had plenty of reason to celebrate the victory, which was Tennessee’s first over Alabama since 2006. The Tide’s 52 allowed points were also the highest since 1907.
Nov. 22: Saudi Arabia hands Argentina loss in Group Stage
Argentina and Lionel Messi walked away from the 2022 World Cup as champions, but that glory didn’t come easy. The country entered the tournament having not lost in 36 games—nearly tying an international men’s record. But instead of allowing Argentina to strut through, Saudi Arabia stunned the world by scoring two goals in four minutes en route to a 2–1 victory.
Dec. 1: Terps down Irish with buzzer beater
No. 7 Notre Dame and No. 20 Maryland were tied 72–72 with just 15 seconds remaining in regulation. And as the clock ticked down to one second, Maryland’s Diamond Miller put up a buzzer beater that would fall, propelling the Terrapins to a 74–72 victory in South Bend. (Miller even got props from NBA star Kevin Durant after the fact.) The loss was Notre Dame’s first of the season.
Dec. 2: Utah spoils USC’s season—again
USC’s only loss of the 2022 season was to Utah in Week 7, and the No. 4 Trojans had the chance to get some payback while also punching their ticket to the College Football Playoff. Instead, USC fell apart, losing 47-24. In the end, USC was unable to stop Utah’s offense, which scored 44 points to overcome an early-game deficit.
Dec. 3: Kansas State topples TCU in overtime
No. 3 TCU, which came into the Big 12 Championship undefeated, looked primed to breeze into the College Football Playoff with a win over No. 11 Kansas State. But the Wildcats had other plans. Heading into overtime tied at 28, Kansas stopped TCU at the goal line in the first possession before sinking a 31-yard field goal to win. In the process, Kansas State secured its first conference championship since 2012.
Dec. 10: Morocco sends Portugal home early
With its 1–0 win over European powerhouse Portugal, Morocco made history as the first-ever African team to make the World Cup semifinals. The lone goal was scored in the 42nd minute of the game, and the Moroccan defense was able to contain a Portugal squad that scored six goals in its round of 16 match.
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