Iceland, a nation of 330,000 people, shocked one of soccer's traditional powers with a 2-1 victory June 27 to reach the Euro 2016 quarterfinals. Coming just days after Britain voted to leave the EU, the loss to Iceland was a stunning gut-punch, called the most embarrassing loss in a generation.
In the worst defeat ever suffered by the Hurricanes, No. 6 Clemson absolutely humiliated Miami in its own stadium. Among the 'Canes many lowlights included giving up a sack to a two-man Clemson pass rush. "Fire Al Golden" banners had flown over Sun Life Stadium many times during the game and prior to it at others, and after this embarrassment, the school's athletic director heeded the call and sent the five-year head coach packing.
It wasn't the largest margin of victory in an NBA regular-season game, but Memphis' 50-point humiliation at the hands of the defending champion Warriors was shocking, as the two teams met only a few months back in the Western Conference Semifinals. "They're not 40, 50 better points better than us," Zach Randolph lamented. But on that night, the Warriors were.
Brazil hosted the 2014 World Cup, so you’d think its opponents would treat the hosts with some modicum of respect, but the Germans unleashed a merciless Teutonic 7-1 beatdown in the semifinal.
Alabama's Nick Saban is a coach who is celebrated for his mastermind game management and thorough preparation. He thinks through every scenario and always seems to make the right decision. On that fateful Iron Bowl night in 2013, however, his decision to kick a long field goal for the win blew up in his face in the most spectacular fashion, when Chris Davis returned the short attempt 100-plus yards to deal Alabama a shocking, improbable loss.
Led by a star-studded squad filled with the likes of Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, Team USA suffered a humiliating loss to a team of relatively unknown Greeks in the 2006 World Basketball Championships. The Americans gave up a double-digit lead and really blew it in the second half, allowing the Greeks to shoot 62.5 percent and eventually losing 101-95.
Arguably the most unwatchable Super Bowl ever played seemed over and out of reach agonizingly early in the game. Peyton Manning and the vaunted Denver offense were utterly smothered by the Seahawks’ swaggering, swarming Legion of Boom defense, and there was no stopping Russell Wilson on his way to his first Super Bowl win.
Appalachian State went into the Big House in 2007 and dealt the No. 5-ranked Michigan Wolverines one of the most embarrassing losses in sports history. It must be said that App State had a baller squad that had won the FCS (formerly Division II) title the previous two years, but this was only the second time an FCS school had beaten a ranked FBS team. For a tiny school to beat a highly touted edition of the winningest college football program of all time on its home turf is the stuff of humiliation legend.
In 2014, the Faroe Islands defeated Greece in a European Championship qualifying match. It cannot be overstated what a tremendous upset this was and how embarrassing a defeat it is for the country that invented democracy and the gyro to lose to a mostly frozen nation of just 50,000 people.
San Marino is known for being the lowliest footballing country on the planet. It has exactly one win against an international opponent in its history, a 1-0 thriller over Liechtenstein in 2004. Liechtenstein is no powerhouse, but this loss is surely a national embarrassment for the team. However, it should be noted that the boys from San Marino did earn a draw versus Estonia last year, so perhaps they are on the rise?
Princeton lost 41-21 to Monmouth in 2005. This was the lowest-scoring Division I basketball game since the three-point line was created.
Team USA’s basketball team suffered a thorough, humiliating 92-73 defeat to Puerto Rico in the 2004 Olympics. Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan and a roster full of NBA stars got absolutely worked by a squad from the tiny island of less than 4 million.
The Chicago Cubs were so close in 2003 to their first pennant since 1945 and first World Series since 1908. Up 3-2 in the NLCS against the upstart Florida Marlins, the Cubs carried a 3-0 lead into the eighth inning of Game 6 when the floodgates of failure and bad luck were unleashed upon them. As Cubs left fielder Moises Alou tracked a fly ball that was heading foul down the left field line, an unfortunate fan named Steve Bartman reached to catch the ball, interfering with an enraged Alou. The Marlins went on to score eight unanswered runs to win Game 6 and, of course, then won Game 7.
Oklahoma won the 2000 BCS Championship, and after mowing down opponents during the 2003 season, the mighty Sooners seemed destined for another title run. Their matchup with perennial underdog Kansas State in the 2003 Big 12 title game was expected to be a cakewalk. Not so fast, youngsters. Kansas State’s legendary coach Bill Snyder administered some grandfatherly tough love on his much younger, visor-wearing colleague Bob Stoops, as his squad dismantled Oklahoma in an embarrassing rout. Despite the whoopin’, Oklahoma still went on to play for the 2003 title, which it lost to LSU.
Oklahoma pummeled traditional powerhouse Texas A&M 77-0 during the 2003 college football season. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more embarrassing scoreline in any sport involving a blowout victim with such a rich tradition and pedigree.
14-2 in the seventh inning. That’s game over in any baseball game. And yet in 2001, the Seattle Mariners found a way to blow that lead to the Cleveland Indians in dramatic, humiliating fashion, ultimately losing 15-14 in 11 innings.
All Jean Van de Velde needed to do to win the 1999 British Open was double bogey on the par-4 18th hole. Monsieur Van de Velde proceeded to shank his way to one of the most agonizing triple bogeys of all time, which forced a playoff where he promptly met his demise.
In 1993, the Texas Rangers suffered a memorable, humiliating loss at the hands of the Boston Red Sox. Losing by an insurmountable margin, power hitter Jose Canseco volunteered to pitch to give the Rangers’ beleaguered bullpen a rest. He proceeded to walk three and give up three runs in a 33-pitch inning, blowing out his elbow in the process and forcing him to get the dreaded Tommy John surgery.
The Texas Rangers dropped 30 runs on the Baltimore Orioles in a shameful 2007 contest. The 30-3 final score is the stuff of a high school pummeling and one of the most remarkable shellackings in baseball history.
In 1990, Mike Tyson was the most fearsome fighter around — and let’s be honest, probably the scariest person on earth. Needless to say, no one gave relative unknown Buster Douglas much of a chance before their fight in Tokyo in February 1990 (he was a 42-to-1 underdog). To everyone’s astonishment, Douglas frustrated and bamboozled Tyson, who was unaccustomed to such resistance, and eventually shocked the world by knocking out the undefeated champ in the 10th round.
Long before LeBron brought his talents to South Beach and then back to Ohio again — a year before Kyrie Irving was even born — the Cavaliers handed the Heat a humiliating 148-80 loss in 1991. On this particular night, the likes of Rony Seikaly, Bimbo Coles and Jon Sundvold were no match for “Hot Rod” Williams, Larry Nance, Craig Ehlo and company.
After a stint in the slammer and a four-year absence from boxing, Mike Tyson returned to the ring to face “Hurricane” Peter McNeeley. McNeeley was 36-1 at the time, though apparently he must have been fighting small children and frail octogenarians to pad his stats, because he was only able to withstand a grand total of 89 seconds of Tyson’s fury. McNeeley parlayed his dubious notoriety into a starring role in a Pizza Hut commercial in which he gets knocked out by a slice of pizza.
The John Elway-led Broncos won two Super Bowls in the late '90s, but once upon a time, Denver was synonymous with failure. The laughable blowout the Broncos suffered against Joe Montana and company in Super Bowl XXIV helped earn them the dubious honor of being skewered by “The Simpsons.” You might recall the episode in which Homer’s initial elation over being given a pro football team quickly turns to disgust upon discovering a gaggle of fumbling, bumbling Denver Broncos on his front lawn.
This was one of the most lopsided championship games in sports history. The Runnin’ Rebs, led by soon-to-be pros like Larry Johnson, Greg Anthony and Stacey Augmon, blazed their way through the tournament and just about ran Duke out of the building. Duke shouldn’t feel too bad, as UNLV scored an eye-popping 131 points against Loyola Marymount earlier in the tourney.
Prior to the 1987 Fiesta Bowl (the culmination of the 1986 season), University of Miami players disembarked from the plane wearing military fatigues, conveying in no uncertain terms that they were going to war with Penn State. With the national title on the line, the buildup to the game saw the widely loathed Canes reach the absolute zenith of their tacky, loudmouth, swaggering, trash-talking braggadocio. Unfortunately for “The U,” things didn’t turn out so well on the “battlefield,” as Miami turned the ball over seven times and managed to score only 10 points.
Georgetown won it all in 1984. Led by superstar Patrick Ewing, the Hoyas steamrolled through 1985, heavily favored to repeat as kings of college basketball. After breezing through the tournament, including an easy win over highly ranked St. John’s, only 10-loss Villanova stood in their way. Ed Pinckney and company handed the Hoyas a stunning loss in the final.
In 1982, the Virginia Cavaliers were among the most feared teams in college basketball. They had Ralph Sampson, who was an unstoppable force and three-time National Player of the Year. The Chaminade Silverswords, who had lost to a school called Wayland Baptist earlier that year, somehow miraculously toppled Virginia in a legendary game in Honolulu.
In 1979, some genius in the Chicago White Sox marketing department thought it’d be a swell idea to have a “Disco Demolition Night.” What could possibly go wrong detonating a controlled explosion in front of thousands of beer-drinking disco loathers? After blowing up a crate full of disco records after the first game of a doubleheader, crazed fans stormed the field in the throes of excitement and anti-disco rage. The resultant field damage forced the Sox to forfeit the second game of the doubleheader.
Running the clock out in football when your opponent is out of timeouts is probably the easiest thing to do in sports. And yet in 1978, the New York Giants found a way to mess this up. They had the ball late in the fourth quarter with the game in hand. The Eagles were out of timeouts, so all they had to do was snap the ball and kneel. The Giants, however, managed to fumble the snap. Herm Edwards of the Eagles quickly scooped up the fumble and ran it in to win the game.
By the time the Florida Gators met the Miami Hurricanes in the 1971 season, Gators quarterback John Reaves was hot on the heels of Jim Plunkett’s NCAA all-time passing yards record. With the game well in hand, Gators defenders decided to fall to the ground in unison — allowing Miami to score so its could get Reaves the ball back. Reaves promptly broke the record on the next possession. The Gators put an exclamation point on the embarrassing loss by jumping into the hallowed fountain that used to be the home of the Miami Dolphins’ beloved mascot, Flipper.
In 1916, Georgia Tech inflicted the greatest beatdown that has ever taken place on a football field — an astonishing 222-0 savaging. The victim, tiny Cumberland College, had incurred the wrath of coach John Heisman when its baseball team (allegedly led by illegal ringers) smoked Tech’s team of average college Joes. Cumberland paid dearly for this transgression.