Antoine Bethea gave Howard a pep talk the night before it upset UNLV

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The night before Howard shocked UNLV with a 43-40 victory in Las Vegas, Arizona Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea stood in front of the team at its hotel and preached the importance of playing selfless football.

His pep talk worked.

“I just told them that nobody outside these walls right here believes that you can come out here and win this game,” said Bethea, who played at Howard from 2002-05. “I was just telling them how much this game of football is a selfless game. You can’t be selfish and expect to win. That was the main thing. Play for one another. It’s a selfless game, you can’t be selfish.”

Howard went out about 24 hours later and pulled off the biggest point-spread upset in college football history.

“It was something special,” Bethea said.

But Bethea said he didn’t wager on the game. A $100 bet on Howard would have paid $60,000.

The game was too close for Bethea not to go, he said. So he took his family to Las Vegas for the game over Labor Day weekend. The whole thing was a trip down memory lane for the 33-year-old Bethea.

A “nice little trip” ended with the biggest victory in school history.

“It was huge,” Bethea said. “A lot of excitement around, obviously, the program having a new coaching staff and just trying to bring that winning culture back. It was very exciting. I was really excited for the coaching staff and for the players.”

It was coach Mike London’s debut at Howard, which hasn’t had a winning season since going 7-4 in 2012.

Even though one of the last voices from outside the team the Bison heard was Bethea’s, the veteran won’t take any credit for Howard’s historic upset.

“Those guys went out there and played a hell of a game,” Bethea said.