On October 7, 1916, Georgia Tech defeats Cumberland University, 220-0, in the most lopsided game in college football history. Coached by John Heisman, later namesake of college football’s most famous trophy, Georgia Tech takes a 63-0 lead in the first quarter at Grant Field in Atlanta.
“All of Cumberland’s plays were smothered completely,” the Atlanta Constitution reported.
“I think one of our best plays of the game was when one of our players got the ball on a pitchout and he lost only 10 yards,” Ed Haysler Poague, who played for Cumberland, recalled decades later.
Despite a 126-0 halftime lead, Heisman urged his team to keep the pressure on. “You never know what those Cumberland players have up their sleeve,” he said. “So in the second half, go out and hit ‘em clean and hit ‘em hard. Do not let up.”
Heisman agreed to shorten the quarters to 12 minutes from 15. But speculation remains that he ran up the score because he thought Cumberland—a Lebanon, Tennessee school—used professional players to beat Georgia Tech in baseball, a sport Heisman also coached.
“We really didn’t have such a bad team,” Poague said. “We were just so ridiculously outclassed that day that it was, well, ridiculous.”
Georgia Tech fans apparently thought the game might be competitive. “But it didn’t take them long to realize that it wasn’t going to be too difficult,” Poague recalled. “They did a lot of laughing after that.”