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Vegas Always Wins: Poppin’ champagne in Champaign

Badgers upset highlights Week 8 bad beats in college football.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Illinois Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State got its weekly scheduled beatdown out of the way on Friday night, so Buckeye fans had the pleasure of a weekend featuring both a victory for the good guys and a full stress-free slate of college football on Saturday. It would be stress-free, of course, if you weren’t attempting to make a quick buck dipping your toes in the water of the sports betting world.

It was unclear what exactly was in the air this Saturday, but even from the early morning a disturbance in the Force could be felt. Everything was quiet — too quiet. The schedule at hand seemed rather dull, with only two real big match-ups on the board. However, you could almost sense that something strange was going to happen. No weekend in college football is ever as boring as it appears on paper, so somebody was bound to be on upset alert.

The two ranked-vs.-ranked games of the day were close as most would expect, with No. 12 Oregon defeating No. 25 Washington 35-31 in a comeback effort, and No. 16 Michigan coming up short against No. 7 Penn State 28-21 in the Happy Valley white-out. That was really all that happened this weekend. Nothing else to report...

Oh, well actually there was one team that lost as an 18.5-point favorite and another that lost as a 21-point favorite. Also, one of the top teams in the Big Ten may have lost as a 30-point favorite — but whose keeping track?

It’s me. I’m the one keeping track, and without a ton of late backdoor covers and crazy endings involving the spread, this week’s bad beats are all about the underdogs.

Illinois 24 — Wisconsin 23
(ILL ML +3375)

The Wisconsin Badgers took to the road this weekend for what most believed would be a tune up game against the Illinois Fighting Illini. At 0-3 in conference play, the Illini appeared to be a chance for the Badgers to make sure that operations were running smoothly ahead of their big matchup with Ohio State next week. Things started a bit slow in the first half, but by the middle of the third quarter, Wisconsin held felt like a comfortable 20-7 lead.

The game tightened up a bit after a long Illinois touchdown run late in the quarter, but the Badgers pushed the lead back to 10 with an early fourth quarter field goal. The Fighting Illini continued to, well, fight, as they cut the Wisco lead to just 23-21 with 5:53 left in the game. Paul Chryst appeared to be content with running out the clock and escaping with a narrow victory, but a Jack Coan interception set the Illini up at their own 47 with 2:32 to play. They would gain an additional 32 yards on the next eight plays to set up a 39-yard field goal attempt with four seconds remaining.

James McCourt nailed the 39-yarder as the Illini pulled off the huge upset of Wisconsin. The Badgers were 30-point favorites in the game. The away team was such heavy favorites, in fact, that if you wanted to take them straight up to win, it would have taken an $8,000 bet to net just a $100 profit. On the flip side, a $100 bet on Illinois straight up would have net $3,375. Those who took Illinois with the spread were never in danger, as Wisconsin never looked poise to even score 30 points on their own.

Vanderbilt 21 — Missouri 14
(VAN ML +1000)

The Vanderbilt Commodores hosted the No. 22 Missouri Tigers this weekend in an SEC East showdown. The Tigers came into the day 2-0, while the Commodores were still searching for their first conference win at 0-3. Vandy opened up the scoring first with a short rushing TD early in the second quarter, but Mizzou answered quickly with a TD pass of their own to tie it at seven apiece. A long 61-yard touchdown before halftime for the Commodores would put the home team up 14-7 heading into the break.

The Tigers were the only team to find the endzone in the third quarter as both defenses began to take center stage. A six-yard rushing TD tied the game at 14-14 with 1:37 remaining in the third, and the defensive bout continued. That was, until Cam Johnson got his name into the stat sheet in a big way.

The wideout was able to break multiple tackles en route to what would ultimately become the game-winning touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Missouri missed a field goal on its ensuing possession, and Vandy would be able to just run out the clock to end it. The Tigers were 21-point favorites in the contest, and -2000 on the money line. A $100 bet on the Commodores to win outright would have returned $1,000.

Georgia Tech 28 — Miami 21 (OT)
(GT ML +800)

Hard Rock Stadium was the setting for this unranked ACC matchup between the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Miami Fighting Tate Martells Hurricanes. This game started out fast, but quickly lost steam and eventually just sunk into downright sadness. Both teams put up 14 points in the first quarter, as what was sure to be an offensive showcase was underway. The Hurricanes would score again in the opening minutes of the second quarter, but the scoreboard would remain unchanged until a 35-yard passing TD by Georgia Tech just before halftime had it all tied up 21-21.

The second half was nothing short of a disaster that would make even Jim Tressel unhappy, as two anemic offenses went on to combine for four punts, a fumble and two missed field goals — both by Miami. The game would go to overtime still tied at 21, as someone would finally have to find a way to win. The Yellow Jackets scored on the first possession of OT, so it would be up to the Hurricanes to match it and keep the game alive.

Miami appeared to get the first down on 4th-and-4, but upon further review, the receivers elbow was down short of the sticks as Georgia Tech would escape with a 28-21 victory in OT. The home team was 18.5-point favorites in the game, and -1300 on the money line. Confident (and perhaps a bit crazy) bettors willing to risk $100 on the Jackets to win the game outright came out with a payday of $800.

Fun Fact: If you were to parlay all three underdogs on the money line, a $100 bet would have brought in a whopping return of over $340,000.