In somewhat of an upset given the others in its category, it was a 2014 college football game that claimed one of the numerous honors handed out at Wednesday night’s ESPY awards show.
And, fittingly enough, it was Ole Miss’ shocking of Alabama last year that claimed the ESPY for Best Upset. The others in the category were Georgia State stunning Baylor in March Madness this past spring and the Kansas City Royals sweeping the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Championship Series last fall.
Heading into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in early October last year, the Tide was cruising through the first half of its slate at 4-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country in the coaches’ poll. An hour of game time after kickoff, however, the goalposts came tumbling down as the Rebels claimed a 23-17 win over the Tide.
That win provided a couple of firsts for the Rebels football program: first win over the Tide since 2003, and its first-ever over a team ranked No. 1 in the country. As the season wore on, though, it looked less and less like an upset as the Rebels finished the regular season at 9-3 and ranked ninth in the final College Football Playoff rankings. The fact that the ESPYs were voted on via online fan voting, though, may have something to do with this SEC team coming out on top in its category.
Additionally, former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was named the Best Male College Athlete. The 2014 Heisman winner — as well as the winner of the Maxwell, Davey O’Brien and Unitas awards — Mariota left the Ducks as the all-time passing leader in nearly every major statistical categories and led Oregon to the brink of the first national championship in the program’s history. This past April, Mariota was the second overall pick of the Tennessee Titans in the NFL draft.
The other male college athletes up for the award were Boston University hockey player Jack Eichel, Wisconsin basketball player Frank Kaminsky, Ohio State wrestler Logan Stieber and Vanderbilt baseball player Dansby Swanson.
There were five college football individuals/teams up for four other awards, but they didn’t fare as well as Ole Miss and Mariota.
Ohio State’s Cardale Jones was up for Best Breakthrough Athlete; Ohio State’s Urban Meyer for Best Coach/Manager; the entire Ohio State squad for Best Team; and Central Michigan’s Hail Mary in the Bahamas Bowl and Ameer Abdullah‘s touchdown run vs. McNeese State in the tournament-style Best Play. The awards instead went to Little League sensation Mo’ne Davis, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, the U.S. Women’s World Cup title team and former LSU and New York Giants star Odell Beckham Jr.‘s ridiculous one-handed catch, respectively.
The night may or may not have been a total loss for Jones, though, depending on the response he received to the Twitter request sent out to a fellow ESPY nominee.