Third Biggest Overcome Point Spread in College Football History
Conference Game
1 2 3 4 Total
Oregon State University 7 7 0 7 14
University of Washington 10 0 7 3 20
Date October 19
Stadium Husky Stadium
Location Seattle, Washington
Favorite Washington by 38
National anthem University of Washington Husky Marching Band
Halftime show University of Washington Husky Marching Band
Attendance 58,771

The 1985 Oregon State vs. Washington football game was a college football game between the Oregon State Beavers and Washington Huskies that took place on October 19, 1985. The game featured the largest overcome point spread in college football history at the time when the Huskies, after being favored by 38 points, lost 21–20 after the Beavers blocked a punt and recovered the ball in the end zone with 1:29 left to play. It is considered one of the greatest upsets in college football history.[1][2][3]

Since this game, there have been two games in college football history with higher point spread upsets. On October 6, 2007, Stanford, a 41-point underdog, defeated No. 2 USC 24–23. Almost ten years later, on September 2, 2017, UNLV lost as a 45-point favorite to Howard 43–40, establishing a new record for the greatest point-spread upset in college football history.


During the mid-1980s, the University of Washington Huskies were a powerhouse of American collegiate football, finishing the 1984 season ranked #2 nationally.[4] After a bit of a rough start, the Seattle team was on a roll again in 1985, feeling strong as a result of the four-game win streak that had returned the Huskies to the top of the Pac-10 standings.[1]

In stark contrast, the Beavers were coming off four straight losses including back to back blankings against USC and Washington State, where they allowed a total of 97 points. No team in Oregon State history had allowed that many points over back-to-back games. Prior to that, the Beavers lost to Division I-AA team Grambling State 23–6 and to Fresno State 33–24.[5] To make matters worse for Oregon State, starting quarterback Erik Wilhelm was out for the season, and Pac-10 Conference (Pac-10) leading receiver Reggie Bynum was also out due to injury.[1] Additionally, the Beavers had lost the last 10 games played against Washington by an average of 24 points.[6]

The game seemed a clear mismatch, with the Huskies as astounding 38-point favorites to win the game. When the Las Vegas betting odds were published the Seattle media had a field day insulting the mighty Huskies' hapless foes. One reporter went so far as to say that "Oregon State plays football pretty much the way Barney Fife played a deputy sheriff on Mayberry".[1] In a television interview, Huskies head coach Don James said he expected to give his reserve quarterback Chris Chandler a chance for some playing time.

Oregon State head coach Dave Kragthorpe used the media comments in his pre-game speech to the Beavers in an effort to motivate them to prove critics wrong before they went out on the field.[1]

The gameEdit

Washington put the first points up on the board after a field goal put the Huskies up 3–0 in the first quarter. Oregon State backup quarterback Rich Gonzales responded by stunning the Huskies with a 43-yard touchdown pass to Darvin Malone on the following drive, giving the Beavers the lead. Washington responded with an 80-yard drive and a touchdown of their own, regaining the lead 10–7.[1]

On the next drive, Washington forced Oregon State into a 4th and 20 position on their own 28 yard line. A Husky rush forced the punter to attempt to run for the first down instead of punting the ball, being stopped 10 yards short, turning the ball over on downs to the Huskies on the Beavers' 38 yard line. Washington drove to the 8 yard line, but then threw an interception in the end zone to give possession back to the Beavers. Oregon State then capped off an 80-yard drive with a 20-yard scramble for a touchdown by Gonzales, and the Beavers led 14–10 at halftime.[1]

Washington took the lead again the lead in the third quarter, going up 17–14. With 1:32 left in the quarter, Washington had first and goal at the one-yard line, twice trying to run the ball up the middle and failing to get the score, bringing up third down. On the following play, OSU linebacker Osia Lewis knocked out Washington running back Vince Weathersby with his tackle, causing a fumble that Oregon State recovered.[1]

With 7:59 left, Washington hit another field goal, making it 20–14.

With 1:29 left, Washington was forced to punt from right outside their own end zone. Oregon State's Andre Todd rushed the punter and blocked the punt, sending the ball flying into Washington's end zone, nearly causing a safety. However, the bounce went Oregon State's way and ended up staying in the end zone, allowing the Beavers to recover it for a touchdown. The extra point was good, giving the Beavers a 21–20 lead, which would prove to be enough for the win, resulting in the biggest overcome point spread in college football history at the time.[1]


Oregon State players celebrated, shouting "You can blame this one on your media" as they returned to the locker room.[1] The Seattle media did not appear to ask Kragthorpe questions after the game.[1]

The loss had the effect of knocking the Huskies out of the 1986 Rose Bowl, which was eventually attended by the conference champion UCLA Bruins.[4] The Bruins finished the Pac-10 season with a conference record of 6–2, which would have been the same record of the 5–3 Huskies, had they handled Oregon State. Having previously defeated UCLA earlier in the season, Washington owned the tie-breaker and would have played in Pasadena with a 6–2 record.

Oregon State did not win any more games for the rest of the season and finished in 9th place in the Pac-10.

While some sports historians believe that the shocking 1921 defeat of mighty Harvard College by unheralded Centre College of Danville, Kentucky constitutes the greatest upset in collegiate football history, the 1985 Oregon State defeat of 38-point favorite Washington constituted at the time the greatest outright loss of a Las Vegas favorite in American college football history.[7] This distinction has been surpassed only by the 2007 victory of 41-point underdog Stanford University over the University of Southern California.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Edmonston. Jr., George. "Eating Crow". OSU Alumni Association. Archived from the original on 2007-06-24. Retrieved 2007-01-03.
  2. Curtis, Jake (2007-09-03). "Putting Appalachian State's win in perspective". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
  3. "Biggest upset ever? Take a look at the rest". Archived from the original on 5 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Brad Fuqua, "Oregon State Has Pulled Off Its Own Upsets Over the Years," Corvallis Gazette-Times, Sept. 6, 2013.
  5. "2006 Football Media Guide - Year-By-Year Results" (PDF0). Oregon State University. Retrieved 2007-01-03.
  6. "2006 Football Media Guide - Series History" (PDF). Oregon State University. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved 2007-01-03.
  7. George P. Edmonston, Jr. "Up Close and Personal: Greatest Games in the History of OSU Football (Part 2)," OSU Alumni Association.
  8. "Las Vegas Odds Archive". Retrieved 2007-10-07.

Further readingEdit

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