It seems like just yesterday that the college football season began, and yet here we are at the conclusion of the regular season. If you have been gambling along with us all year long, by now your wallets are either overflowing with cash, crawling with cobwebs, or somewhere in the middle because you are an exceedingly average bettor like myself. Alas, maybe the real treasure was the friends we made along the way, but I digress...
If you had been betting on Ohio State every game this season, you came away quite pleased as the Buckeyes are tied atop the leaderboard with a 9-3 record against the spread in 2019. Vegas seemingly struggled to figure out OSU all year, and Saturday’s beatdown of Michigan was no different as the Bucks — favored by nine points — went into Ann Arbor and won by a cool 29 points.
OSU was not the only brand-name team in action on rivalry weekend, as two big ranked matchups saw No. 15 Auburn win a 48-45 shootout against No. 5 Alabama, and No. 12 Wisconsin sunk No. 8 Minnesota’s boat in a 38-17 drubbing. The rest of the upper portion of the Top 25 held serve, with No. 18 Memphis defeating No. 19 Cincinnati 34-24 and No. 7 Oklahoma taking down No. 21 Oklahoma State 34-16 in the only other ranked games of the day.
Rivalry week comes with its own special brand of chaos, but luckily for gamblers there were not all too many horrific bad beats from the holiday weekend’s action. As always, that doesn't mean they did not exist, as this first game clearly shows.
Notre Dame 45 — Stanford 24
(Line: ND -17.5)
At 9-2 heading into this game, Notre Dame had no shot at making the College Football Playoff as an independent. However, that doesn't mean they weren’t looking to stick it to a rival in the last week of the season, while also securing three-straight 10-win seasons — only the second time in school history they’ve accomplished such a stretch. Things started out slow for the Fighting Irish, trailing 17-7 early in the second quarter, but it got turned around in a hurry.
A pair of touchdown passes by Ian Book had Notre Dame leading 21-17 at the half, and the Irish offense continued to roll well into the fourth quarter, establishing a commanding 38-17 lead with five minutes remaining in the contest. The scoring appeared to be all wrapped up after a Stanford TD run with under two minutes to play, but unfortunately for those backing the Cardinal, that was not the case...
With less than a minute remaining, Stanford’s QB was strip-sacked in the end zone. The ball was recovered by Notre Dame for a touchdown, making the final score 45-24. Trailing by just 14 before the play, the Cardinal had been covering the 17.5-point spread, but the turnover in the end zone expanded the deficit to 21 and left those who took the home team with the points dazed and confused.
Northwestern 29 — Illinois 10
(Total: O/U 39.5)
I know, I know. It’s hard to believe something weird happened in the Northwestern-Illinois game, but here we are. I doubt there were many people across the country glued to this game with all the other action going on, and to be quite honest I wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t aware that this game took place at all. However, this game did feature one of the worst beats of the day, and I’m here to show you how.
As you could imagine it was not exactly a Big 12-esc shootout, but the two Big Ten foes did manage to trade a few scores through the game’s first three quarters, as the Wildcats held a 17-10 lead heading into the fourth. Northwestern would be the only team to find pay dirt in the final quarter of play, scoring a pair of touchdowns, but that doesn’t tell the story of where things went awry in this one.
For absolutely no clear reason whatsoever, the Wildcats elected to go for two after scoring their final touchdown. They would fail, and go on to win by a score of 29-10. The total of the game was set at 39.5, and so just kicking the extra point would have hit the over. Instead, a bizarre choice to attempt a two-point conversion with only a minute left kept the total under by half a point.
The rest of the week’s beats were rather mild, so lets go rapid-fire with one more backdoor cover and a pair of outright underdog winners...
Syracuse 39 — Wake Forest 30
(Total: O/U 68)
Up 33-30 in overtime, Syracuse housed a pick-six for a walk-off 39-30 win. The total of the game was set at 68, and the game-ending touchdown pushed the final total to 69. Losing the under in this game hurts a little less since Wake Forest was in field goal range at the time and a score to win or send it to double-OT would have made the game go over anyway, but this was still a tough way to go out if you were looking to keep points off the board — especially since the Orange could have just as easily sat on the interception and won the game right there.
Auburn 48 — Alabama 45
In a wild edition of the Iron Bowl, Alabama missed what would have been a game-tying 30-yard field goal with two minutes remaining. It looked as though the Crimson Tide were going to get the ball back with just over a minute to go, but Gus Malzahn’s peculiar punt formation confused Alabama into having too many men on the field, and the penalty would give Auburn a first down and the ability to just run out the clock.
West Virginia 20 — TCU 17
Trailing late in the fourth quarter, West Virginia scored on a fantastic pass-and-catch with just over two minutes remaining to take a 20-17 lead over TCU — one they would hold as they went on to defeat the Horned Frogs on their home field. The Mountaineers were able to keep TCU from bowl eligibility, as the two teams each finished the season 5-7. TCU was 13.5-point favorites in the game, and a $100 bet on WVU to win outright would’ve net $400.