The Howard University Bison pulled off the greatest upset in college football history by edging out the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV) Rebels, 43-40, on Sept. 2 in Las Vegas. 

No one gave Howard a chance to win the game, especially college football odds makers. According to reports, some sportsbooks gave Howard just a 600-to-1 chance of winning, and favored the Rebels by as many as 45.5 points—and for good reason.

Howard’s Jordan Scott (13) and Cody Williams Jr. (86) celebrate with teammates after Howard defeated UNLV, 43-40, (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Not only is UNLV an FBS, or Division I-A, team compared to Howard’s lower-tiered FCS, or Division I-AA status, but Howard’s football team has generally been awful over the last decade or two. They’ve recorded just two winning seasons in the past 20 years. 

Things may be on the upswing for Howard with freshman quarterback Caylin Newton under center. Newton is a three-star recruit from Atlanta and the younger brother of NFL MVP quarterback Cam Newton. Caylin totaled more than 300 yards with three touchdowns in Howard’s historic victory over UNLV.

Newton’s 52-yard touchdown run gave Howard a 7-0 lead just minutes into the first quarter. He later tossed a short touchdown pass to Kyle Anthony to put Howard ahead, 14-6, in the second quarter, and also scored the game-winning touchdown on a four-yard run late in the fourth quarter. He finished with 190 yards rushing and 140 yards passing. 

The win marked the first time Howard defeated a Division I-A opponent. It was also the first time in more than 10 years that Howard won a season-opening game, and the Bison win spoiled UNLV’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of its football program. 

The win was the first for new Howard head coach Mike London, who made his debut Saturday. London took over Howard’s head coaching job this summer after serving as associate head coach for University of Maryland last year.


Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor