In their first game as a FBS team, the Texas State Bobcats bested the Houston Cougars this weekend, defying pundits’ predictions. The win did not go unnoticed.
Vegas oddsmakers had bet heavily against the Bobcats, predicting they’d lose by 36.5 points. When they won by 17 points instead, they pulled off an upset second only to Stanford’s win over USC in 2007. Writing in Sports Illustrated, Steward Mandel called the victory “by far the biggest upset of opening weekend — and technically, one of the biggest in history”:
Welcome back to the big leagues, Dennis Franchione.
Franchione, the Bobcats head coach back in 1990-91, said he returned to San Marcos two years ago (after three seasons out of coaching) in part because the 36,000-student school was better equipped than most to make the FBS transition. Texas State has invested $70 million in its facilities since 2004, including expanding its stadium capacity from 16,0000 to 30,000. Still, when he took over, “we probably had 10, 12, maybe 15 guys that could play on an FBS roster.” After just two recruiting classes, he now estimates he has “18 or 20 that could get on the two-deep” at one of the major programs he previously coached.
“I thought we could find a way to win the game,” Franchione said Sunday morning. “I didn’t quite anticipate we’d do it the way we did … when you’re playing a team that went 13-1 and put up points like an arcade game.”
Even the Los Angeles Times marked the occasion with a story. Chris Dufresne writes that the Bobcat win “deserves its place in you-have-got-to-be-kidding-us history.”
The home crowd of 32,207 at Robertson Stadium could not have been prepared for this kind of opening shocker. Texas State held Houston’s offense to 326 yards. Last year, the Cougars had 600 or more yards in eight of their 14 games.
Texas State became only the seventh underdog of 34 points or more to win a college football game since 1980. A $100 bet on Texas State returned $12,000.
According to Pregame.com, Stanford’s win as a 38.5-point underdog at USC in 2007 remains the biggest point-spread upset in college football history.
Of course, no upset like this goes unpunished.
Texas State could not have hoped for a better start for their inaugural foray into big-time NCAA football. The Bobcats face Texas Tech at home on Saturday.