Biggest preseason long-shot underdogs to win a championship in sports betting history

One of the best feelings in the world as a bettor is to cash in on long-shot championship futures bets. On Monday, preseason TCU title bettors are hoping for one more win to hit it big.

The Horned Frogs were listed at +20000 (bet $10 to win $2,010 total) at FOX Bet to win the national title prior to the season. After the Horned Frogs beat No. 2 Michigan 51-45 in the CFP semifinals at the Fiesta Bowl, TCU (13-1) is one victory away from one of the most unlikely national championships in college football.

TCU’s Cinderella run this year got us thinking about the other biggest long shots in sports betting history, so FOX Sports Research dug into the numbers to break it down for us.

Here are the 12 biggest sports betting preseason long-shot underdogs to win a championship.

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Leicester City (2016)


Arguably the greatest upset in sports and betting history, Leicester City opened at 5000-1 to win the English Premier League (EPL) in the 2015-16 season. By April 1, the title was locked up, with Leicester’s title odds dropping all the way to -180. Jamie Vardy scored a whopping 24 goals, which ranked second in the Premier League, coupled with Riyad Mahrez’s 17 goals and 11 assists. While our historical odds only go back to 2009, it is safe to say that the 2016 Leicester City team had the longest preseason odds of any EPL champion of all time.

St. Louis Rams (1999)


How could anyone forget the 1999 St. Louis Rams who were 150-1 to win the Super Bowl entering the season? Dubbed “The Greatest Show on Turf” for the team’s high-powered offense, the Rams would go on to win 23-16 against the Tennessee Titans. Kurt Warner is famous for bagging groceries just a few years prior to the win, but he went on to throw an NFL-leading 41 touchdown passes in 1999. For perspective, the Rams dropped all the way to -250 favorites for the AFC Championship. The 150-1 odds are the highest of any eventual Super Bowl champion since 1977.

Greece (2004)


The UEFA European Championship has long been dominated by powerhouses like Spain, Italy, England and Portugal. But 2004 was a completely different story. At 150-1 underdogs, Greece made it all the way to the final and defeated host Portugal 1-0. In the previous matches, they defeated the likes of France and the Czech Republic. It should also be mentioned that Greece actually defeated Portugal twice — in the group stage as well as the final. For perspective, Greece was still a +450 underdog in the final despite its miraculous run. Theodoros Zagorakis captained the 2004 team and was named player of the tournament for his efforts.

Minnesota Twins (1991)


The 1991 Minnesota Twins opened the year as a whopping 80-1 underdog to win the World Series. Those are the longest odds of any eventual World Series champion since 1985. Kirby Puckett headlined the squad, having won the ALCS MVP prior to the World Series. The six-time Gold Glove winner recorded 89 RBIs that season along with an astounding .319 batting average. By the start of the World Series, most sportsbooks had the Twins as -150 favorites.

Florida Marlins (2003)


Now located in Miami, Florida Marlins are one of the biggest surprise teams in MLB history to have won the World Series. One of the youngest teams in the MLB, the Marlins won it all just 10 years after being founded in 1993. Sportsbooks tabbed them with 75-1 odds to win the title in the preseason, with those odds dropping to +190 by the start of the World Series. The Marlins were led by star pitcher Josh Beckett along with the future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera. The 75-1 preseason odds to win it all is the second-highest of any eventual World Series champion since 1985, behind the aforementioned Twins.

UConn Huskies (2014)


Shabazz Napier led the 2014 UConn Huskies to a national title despite sportsbook tabbing them as 65-1 to do so in the preseason. Those are the longest preseason odds of any eventual national champion since 2001. Second-year head coach Kevin Ollie led them to a 32-8 record that season and defeated the likes of Villanova, Iowa State and Michigan State before taking down Florida and Kentucky in the Final Four and national title respectively. By the championship game, sportsbooks still had them as +130 underdogs against the Wildcats.

New England Patriots (2001)


No surprise here, as Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots were huge longshots to win the Super Bowl entering the 2001 season — Tom Brady’s first as a starting quarterback. The Pats opened with 60-1 odds to win the championship and were still 14-1 at the start of the AFC Championship. The 60-1 odds are the second-longest of any eventual Super Bowl champion since 1977. New England defeated the Oakland Raiders in the Divisional round in the infamous “Tuck Rule” game and then went on to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC title game followed by the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl.

Carolina Hurricanes (2006)


The 2006 Carolina Hurricanes were 60-1 to win the Stanley Cup entering the 2005-06 NHL season and dropped all the way to -140 favorites by the time of the championship. Those are the longest preseason odds of any eventual Stanley Cup champion since 1984. It’s also worth noting that they were tabbed at 6-1 entering the first round of the playoffs. Carolina was led by current Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour and Eric Staalthe latter of which recorded a stellar 100 points that season (45 goals, 55 assists).

Auburn Tigers (2010)


One of the most electrifying players in college football history, Cam Newton led the Auburn Tigers to a national championship in the 2010 season. The Tigers were given 50-1 odds to win the title in the preseason, the longest of any eventual college football champion since 2001. Newton threw for over 2,800 yards and added over 1,400 on the ground for 50 combined touchdowns. Auburn finished a perfect 14-0 and defeated the Oregon Ducks in a thriller by three points. The Tigers did not have favorable odds until the title game, as they were still 5-1 to win the championship entering Week 13.

Minnesota Twins (1987)


The only franchise to make this list twice, the Twins won the 1987 World series despite being given 50-1 odds in the preseason – the third-longest of any eventual World Series champion since 1985. The team finished with a mere 85-77 record and was led by Puckett and Kent Hrbek, the latter hitting 34 HRs and 90 RBIs. The Twins would go on to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in a seven-game series in the championship.

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San Francisco 49ers (1981)


The 1981 San Francisco 49ers opened as 50-1 favorites en route to their first Super Bowl title. Those preseason odds are the third longest of any eventual Super Bowl champion since 1977. This was the first of five championships for the franchise between 1981 and 1994. Hall of Famers such as Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Steve Young and Ronnie Lott graced the field for San Francisco during this era.

Atlético Madrid (2014)


Another soccer-related longshot here, as Atlético Madrid opened at 50-1 to win La Liga in the 2013-14 season, upsetting the powerhouses of Barcelona and Real Madrid. The league was highly contested throughout the year, with Atlético scraping it out with 90 points — three points ahead of both Barcelona and Real. The drama filtered all the way into the last match of the season, with Barcelona and Atlético separated by just three points. Barcelona needed a victory to claim the title while Atlético needed just a tie, and the latter pulled it out in a 1-1 result. Diego Costa was the leading man, scoring 27 goals in league play, with only Cristiano Ronaldo (31) and Lionel Messi (28) scoring more. The 50-1 preseason odds were the longest of any eventuality La Liga champion since 2009 — as far back as our historical odds data goes.

Will TCU join the above list? If you are betting on the title game, head over to it FOX Bet for your wagers!

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