Given how long ago it was, probably not many fans are familiar with it. One of the greatest upsets in college football history however, took place on this day 100 years ago.
Centre College was the victor in that one. It did the unthinkable as it knocked off 2-time reigning national champion Harvard, 6-0.
Setting the Stage
Harvard had won the national championship in each of the previous two seasons and arrived at Harvard Stadium on Oct. 29, 1921 on a 25-game unbeaten streak. The Crimson were 5-0-1 and coming off a 21-21 tie against Penn State.
From Danville, Ken., Centre College had not seen much football success, but was on the rise under head coach Charley Moran. The year prior, the Praying Colonels had made Harvard sweat for a half. At the time of the contest, Harvard was undefeated and unscored upon.
Centre, a small school of about 300, had taken a 14-7 lead into the half in 1920, only to be outscored 24-0 in the second half. A year later, the Praying Colonels pulled an upset for the ages.
It wasn’t unusual for Harvard to keep teams off the scoreboard. Being kept off the scoreboard however, was a different story.
For more than a half, neither team managed to put up points. That changed in the third quarter.
Quarterback Bo McMillin was already regarded as Centre’s best player. That day, he captured the eyes of the college football world.
McMillin not only scored the game’s only touchdown, but did so in electrifying fashion. He shed a Harvard tackler before showing off his outstanding speed on the way to the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown.
When all was said and done, that was the decisive score. The final from Cambridge: tiny Centre College 6, mighty Harvard 0.
The loss for Harvard was certainly shocking. The Crimson would lose the following week to Princeton en route to a 7-2 finish.
As for Centre, it was just getting started. In 1921, the Flying Colonels started 10-0 and won the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association, allowing just six points all season before falling to Texas A&M 22-14 in the Dixie Classic.
In 1950, the Associated Press called the upset of Harvard the greatest of the century. It came on this day a century ago.