Watching my brothers school, Old Dominion University, pull off the biggest upset in the past decade got me thinking about what makes the perfect upset. Is it based on rankings? Is it based on wins and losses? Or is it deeper than the scale of statistical impossibility? Is it that there is an underlying story behind what we, the average football fan, can see with the naked eye? Could it be a passion so profound that not even a live broadcast can capture every aspect of it?

I pondered. Then pondering drove me to write this. So here, I will break down the anatomy of the “perfect upset” by using the Monarch’s monumental upset of the Hokies this past Saturday as reference and explain how this game was what College Football needed for the culture.

The Numbers


First things first, the primary part of the “perfect upset” is the surface level – the statistics. Going into the game, Old Dominion was 0-3 with losses to brand new FBS-Independent and former FCS rival Liberty University, Florida International University, and UNC Charlotte. On top of that, the last time Old Dominion played Virginia Tech in Blacksburg  the Monarchs couldn’t get past the 50 yard line all game and dropped a fat goose egg.

All of these statistics coincide with the secondary level of the “perfect upset” which is the probability level. The probability of Old Dominion beating Virginia Polytechnic Institute was a 1.8% according to ESPN predictions. On top of that, at 12:30pm last Saturday, Las Vegas put the point spread for Virginia Tech to win at an overwhelming 27.5. These numbers alone made this a “perfect upset” of biblical proportions. But what makes this upset truly special is the story behind it all. 

The Story


We start our humble beginnings in the melting pot of the southeast. That is the Hampton Roads area of the state of Virginia, also known as the 757. This area has been a driving force for American popular culture by producing names such as Allen Iverson, Pharrell Williams, Michael Vick, Pusha T, and more. While this area has produced huge names, it comes at a price. While parts of it are glamorous, it is an area that has seen its fair share of gang related violence with lots of poverty housing. In the midst of all this, in the city of Norfolk, is the home of Old Dominion University.

What makes this truly special is that for much of its existence, the Hampton Roads institution hadn’t had a football team. In fact, the football program has been active for only 10 years. But it’s deeper than that. The players at Old Dominion are a majority of local football players from the 757. They either come from ODU legacy or no college connections at all. While they come from all walks of life, they share a common factor. They were over looked by Virginia, Virginia Tech, and James Madison. These kids, who were deemed “Not good enough” to play at Virginia Tech, went to the Bahamas Bowl two years ago, had a heart breaking 5-7 season and started this season winless. Winless.

The Win


The fact that this team did the impossible and defeated a ranked Virginia Tech is truly remarkable. But I’m not done there. I want to give credit to the 5’10” 185 lb. second string QB Blake LaRussa. He came off the bench and absolutely torched the young Hokie defense for almost 500 yards and 4 touchdowns. Blake also added one touchdown that he ran on the most beautifully executed read option I have ever seen in my life.

This wasn’t just a good upset. Neither was it a great one. Instead, this monumental upset is what College Football needed this season. It will be remembered forever in tales of College Football lore. This “perfect upset” was, indeed, for the culture.

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