In all sports you will get the occasional one sided victory where one team or individual outscores their opponent by a large margin, but over history there have been some blowouts so lopsided that they have stunned the sporting world. Whilst a high scoring match can be entertaining, when it is so one sided it can also be painful to watch as the loser completely crumbles to their opponent. In some cases a team or individual will suffer psychologically due to the heavy defeat, and these blowouts have the ability to damage careers.
For the victor, it is of course a huge confidence boost to convincingly defeat an opponent as it is a testament to your abilities. However, many athletes will not feel comfortable completely destroying a fellow competitor, and ethics and sportsmanship comes into play here. On one hand you are supposed to compete to the end, but on the other it can be cruel to continue to play at 100% when the match was over almost immediately. In most sports, once the coach has decided that the win is in the bag they will pull off their key players and give the reserves a chance. This is known as “garbage time” and seeing as the competitive edge has gone these games often become dull to watch.
Blowouts are inevitable in all sports as sometimes the gulf in class, skill and ability is enormous between two teams or individuals. Blowouts can also occur between two evenly matched teams, and it is these ones which will typically have a lasting impact on the loser as they were not expected to be dealt such a heavy defeat by their opponent.
Here are the 20 most lopsided blowouts in sports history.
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20 Steffi Graf vs. Natasha Zvereva (June 5th, 1988)
Tennis is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one, and players have to stay strong and focused throughout the match. When a player begins to mentally lose their edge it can be difficult to watch, and this is what happened in this blowout in the 1988 French Open between Steffi Graf and Natasha Zvereva. Graf shut out Zvereva and completely dominated from the get-go, winning both sets 6-0 and completing the task in just 32 minutes. Graf, who was just 18 at the time, was so dominant that she only lost 13 points the entire match, and Zvereva was left pulverized both physically and mentally. The match was so painful to watch that Graf apologized to the crowd in her victory speech, and she would then apologize and comfort Zvereva back in the locker room. Zvereva felt unable to address the crowd after the defeat.
19 USA 156 – Nigeria 73 (2012 Olympics)
There is no shame in being beaten by the best, but you still can’t help but feel sorry for a Nigerian team that were on the receiving end of the greatest offensive performance in Olympic basketball history. Team USA felt they had a point to prove, as many feel that other countries have caught them up in terms of high quality basketball. Prior to this game they had blown out France and Tunisia but had drawn criticism for their sluggish play, but nobody would dare criticize this record shattering performance. They had an Olympic record best 78 points by the half, the most points in a game, and U.S records for 3-pointers, field goals and field goal percentage, and Carmelo Anthony broke the U.S single game scoring record with 37 points in less than three quarters. Nigeria did not stand a chance from the get-go, and were mere bystanders in an epic performance from the team that would go on to win gold.
18 Germany 7 - Brazil 1 (2014 World Cup)
The summer World Cup in Brazil had a party like atmosphere throughout the competition, right up until the hosts played Germany in the semi finals. The host nation suffered a humiliating, shock defeat at the hands of a ruthless German team, who were 5-0 up after just 30 minutes of play and would go on to win 7-1. It was the lowest point in Brazilian football history, and left many of the fans and players in tears as they left the pitch with the scoreboard displaying such a heavy defeat. The talented German team dismantled a poor Brazilian defense and showed no mercy for their hosts, and they would then go on to win the final.
The unbelievable scoreline, the fact that it was on their home turf, a semi final and the gigantic platform make this a damaging blowout which shook the Brazilian squad to its core. They have yet to recover from the loss.
17 Denver Nuggets 121 – New Orleans Hornets 63 (April 27th 2009)
Even in the 1st round of the playoffs, the competition is supposed to be fierce every single night. In 2009, the 2nd seeded Nuggets were in New Orleans for Game 4 with the series at 2-1. With New Orleans claiming a victory already, fans felt that they could even up the series on their home court and push Denver to 6 or 7 games, but they were very wrong. Instead, the Nuggets would hand out one of the biggest defeats of all-time with a 58 point victory. The Nuggets completely dominated on both ends of the floor, holding New Orleans to just 31.5% from the floor whilst they would shoot a sizzling 50% from behind the arc and 56.6% from the field.
Denver was able to rest Carmelo Anthony and most of their starters for the entire fourth quarter, ensuring they were ready to finish the series off back at home in Game 5. After such a crushing defeat, there was no way back into the series for New Orleans.
16 New Zealand 402 – Ireland 112 (July 1st 2008)
In a one-day international (ODI) in 2008, New Zealand crushed Ireland by a mammoth 290 runs in the most one sided ODI in cricket history. New Zealand became the first team to reach 400 runs, and they only lost two wickets in the process. Ireland won the toss and elected to bowl first, but they would not get a wicket until the 43rd over and after 274 New Zealand runs. New Zealand finished with 402-2, and Ireland could then only put 112 on the board before they were all out. One reporter summed up the match by stating “The Irish attack had all the impact of a gnat’s nibble on the posterior of a desensitized elephant”.
15 Ned Jarrett - Southern 500 (1965)
In the 1965 Southern 500, two-time NASCAR champion Ned Jarrett made history in what was one of the most eventful races in history, which included the iconic scene of Cale Yarborough waving to the crowd after flying over the wall. A number of cars failed to complete the race, and this paved the way for Ned Jarrett to make history and complete the most lopsided victory in NASCAR history. Jarrett won by an astonishing 14 laps, which worked out as a distance greater than 19 miles ahead of 2nd placed Buck Baker.
14 Texas Rangers 30 – Baltimore Orioles 3 (August 22nd, 2007)
In 2007, the Texas Rangers became just the 2nd team to score 30 runs in a game and the 1st in the American League. The Orioles would respond with just three of their own, making this the biggest MLB blowout in the modern era and one for the record books. This was also the first half of a doubleheader, and the Rangers would go on to win the next game 9-7, giving them 39 runs on 40 hits in a single day. It was the Orioles who led by three runs after three innings, but the Rangers would then put up a staggering 30 unanswered runs. All of the damage would come in four different innings too, with 5 in the 4th, 9 in the 6th, 10 in the 8th and 6 in the 9th.
13 Australia 142 – Namibia 0 (October 25th 2003)
You will often hear the term “cricket score” being used to describe a blowout as one team will have a particularly high score, and this could well have been the case in the 2003 Rugby World Cup match between Australia and Namibia. It was going to be a hugely one-sided affair from the get-go, and it would be a record winning margin and almost a world record score. When there is a gulf in talent this big it always makes for an ugly match, but the Australian crowd were sympathetic to Namibia and gave them a standing ovation as they left the pitch very much a beaten team.
12 San Francisco 49ers 55 – Denver Broncos 10 (Super Bowl XXIV)
The Super Bowl is one of the greatest sporting events in the world, and it is watched by millions all over the globe. Due to the enormous platform that the Super Bowl provides, it makes this blowout particularly damaging for the Broncos and it remains the most lopsided Super Bowl to date. The Broncos had a terrible track record in the Super Bowl having lost three times already, but this would be an even worse performance. Joe Montana won the MVP and threw what was a record 5 TDs in the blowout, and the only mistake made by the 49ers was a missed extra point attempt.
It was a fitting end to complete the 49ers dynasty of the 80s.
11 Detroit Red Wings 15 – New York Rangers 0 (January 23rd 1944)
Back on January 23rd, 1944, the Red Wings would set an NHL record that still stands today for biggest margin of victory. They also became the first team to score 15 consecutive goals in a game, and it would have been 16 if the game was just a second longer as they added another just after the game finished. Syd Howe scored a hat trick, with another nine players scoring in the blowout. For the Rangers, it was a damaging loss as they would not win another game all season long.
10 Slovakia 82 – Bulgaria 0 (September 8th 2008)
In a qualifying tournament for the 2010 Winter Olympics, the Slovakian women’s ice hockey team made history with a jaw dropping 82-0 victory over Bulgaria. In the hour long game, Slovakia registered 139 shots, whilst Bulgaria managed none. This stunning stat shows what a complete lopsided blowout the match was, and afterwards the Chair of the Bulgarian Hockey Federation would state that the display by Slovakia was an “insulting mockery, and not at all sportsmanlike.” The Bulgarian team was formed less than a year before the blowout, and in the tournament they would lose all five matches and be outscored 192-1 over the four games.
9 Michigan Wolverines 1901 season
The 1901 Michigan Wolverines football team are the masters of lopsided blowouts, and they became the first college football team to go an entire season undefeated. In addition to going 11-0, they incredibly did not allow any team to score on them over the course of the season. Every single game was an enormous blowout, with the most lopsided victories being a jaw dropping 128-0 victory over Buffalo, 89-0 over Beloit, 55-0 over Albion and they won the first Rose Bowl game against Stanford 49-0. Over the course of the season, the Wolverines outscored their opponents 550-0.
8 South Korea 92 – Thailand 0 (March, 1998)
It may not be the Stanley Cup, but this was a blowout of epic proportions where the scoreline is unrecognizable as a hockey score. In the 1998 IIHF Asian Oceanic Junior U18 Championships, South Korea would record the largest victory the sport has seen with an astonishing 92-0 victory over Thailand. This may comfort the Bulgarian women’s team somewhat (although I doubt it), and it must have been a bizarre spectacle for those taking part as well as those who had to suffer watching such a one sided affair. South Korea were powered by an incredible 31 goals from Song Dong-Hwan.
7 Cleveland Cavaliers 148 – Miami Heat 80 (December 17th 1991)
LeBron James has been a key figure for both of these teams, but when this lopsided blowout occurred he will have been just a youngster. In the 1990-91 season, the Cavs set an NBA record for the largest margin of victory with a staggering 68-point victory. The final score was 148-80, which included a 42-13 final quarter. This stunned the NBA world and particularly the Heat, who had managed to defeat the Cavs just a week earlier. Reflecting on the crushing loss, Glen Rice said “I don’t know what we played, but it wasn’t basketball.”
6 Chicago Colts 36 – Louisville Colonels 7 (1897)
You have to go back a long way to find the biggest margin of victory in MLB history, and it is certainly a scoreline to behold. In 1897, the Chicago Colts decimated the Louisville Colonels 36-7 in a historic game and no team has ever scored more runs in MLB history. As mentioned earlier, the Rangers are the team to come closest with their impressive 30 in 2007, but you can certainly see this record continue to stand for the foreseeable future. Not too much is known about the game, but it must have been quite the hitting exhibition from the Colts to put up such a lofty score.
5 Man United 9 – Ipswich 0 (March 4th, 1995)
The biggest thrashing and lopsided blowout in Premier League history was back in 1995, and although teams have come close, no one has put on a show quite as dominating as this. It was Man United handing out the smackdown, with Ipswich being the team taking a hammering as they conceded nine goals without reply. Ipswich had claimed a shock victory over the Red Devils earlier in the season, meaning that United were out for revenge and they certainly delivered. Andy Cole poured in five goals himself (this has been matched, but not beaten), Mark Hughes chipped in with a pair, whilst Roy Keane and Paul Ince also got on the scoresheet. This heavy defeat crushed any chance of survival for Ipswich, who finished at the bottom of the table after conceding 93 goals and winning just seven games over the campaign.
4 Chicago Bears 73 – Washington Redskins 0 (1940 NFL Championship)
Disrespecting a coach and his team prior to a match is a risky strategy, and Redskins coach George Preston Marshall would learn this the hard way after stating that Bears coach George Halas and his team were “quitters” and “cry-babies.” This was prior to the NFL Championship game, so the stakes were particularly high for both teams. It would turn out to be a massacre and the largest margin of defeat in NFL history, with the Bears crushing the Redskins 73-0 and leaving George Preston Marshall eating his words. The Bears' 73 points remains the most points scored by one team, and towards the end of the game officials were asking the Bears not to kick for extra points as they were running out of footballs. Perhaps George Preston Marshall should have kept quiet.
3 Tiger Woods - U.S Open (2000)
Tiger may not command the respect that he used to, but there is no denying his brilliance and this is best epitomised by his dominant performance in the 2000 U.S Open. In his first U.S Open victory, Tiger stunned the world of golf with a 15-stroke win over runners up Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez. This remains the most dominant victory in any major championship, and he also became the first player in U.S Open history to finish in double figures under par.
Tiger was untouchable from the get-go and led after the 1st round, but it was a dominant 2nd round that stretched his lead to 6 shots before making it 10 shots after three rounds. He rounded things off in incredible fashion in an unforgettable final round to earn a 15-stroke margin of victory. In the final round, Woods made 9 straight pars, a birdie on the 10th, 12th, 13th and 14th, pars on the 15th, 16th, 17th and final hole for a score of 67 and -12.
2 Secretariat – U.S Triple Crown (1973)
In 1973, the world famous American Thoroughbred racehorse Secretariat became the first U.S Triple Crown winner in 25 years, and his performances in each race were stunning and still raved about today. Secretariat set records in all three races, including a track record at the Kentucky Derby where he was still accelerating in the final quarter mile of the race, a new stakes record in The Preakness Stakes, but it was his breathtaking Belmont Stakes performance that is best remembered and one of the most lopsided victories of all time. Secretariat won by a staggering 31 lengths, breaking the stakes record by more than two seconds and working out to a speed of 37.5 mph. Secretariat’s records still stand and he is widely considered to be one of the greatest athletes of all time.
1 Georgia Tech 222 – Cumberland 0 (1916)
You can’t talk about lopsided blowouts with mentioning this astonishing game between Georgia Tech and Cumberland in 1916. Cumberland had discontinued their football program but would face a hefty fine if they were to forfeit their game with Georgia Tech, so they were forced to round up a random group of 14 students for the game. It may seem unsportsmanlike for Georgia Tech to run up the score to such a humiliating number, but John Heisman (yes, that one) was out for revenge after Cumberland destroyed Georgia Tech’s baseball team (which he also coached) the year before, 22-0. The blowout is one of the most famous in sports and Heisman certainly got his revenge.
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