- An absurd non-safety call. A brutal final play of a first half in New Jersey. We ranked the five worst bad beats from this past week of football.
Another week of football is in the books, which means it’s time to lament over the demoralizing losses that bettors suffered. Welcome back to the SI Backdoor Cover Jinx, where we’ll be ranking the five worst NFL/college football beats from this past week’s action as soon as Monday Night Football ends (so this rules out Rangers/Padres under 8.5 runs on Sunday, where the Rangers led 3-2 heading to the bottom of the ninth but gave up a walk-off grand slam). It was always going to be tough to top the first edition’s set of bad beats, but we have a few absolute doozies that had several poor souls asking why the gambling gods hate them.
First, some music to set the mood.
5. Arizona State -3 first half at San Diego State
Arizona State’s undefeated start under Herm Edwards came to a screeching halt on Saturday night, but the Sun Devils certainly had their shot to put the Aztecs in a major hole early on. Arizona State was up 14-7 with 5:45 remaining in the half before starting a possession on its own five-yard line. Four minutes later, Edwards had a big decision to make with his team facing a fourth-and-one from SDSU’s 11-yard line. The ASU coach rolled the dice, however, it backfired as Manny Wilkins was sacked.
While San Diego State regained possession at its own 15-yard line and 1:41 left in the second quarter, the Aztecs are a run-first team and were playing backup QB Ryan Agnew with starter Christian Chapman injured. Bettors had to feel confident that with ASU up seven, that the Sun Devils would be able to cover the -3 spread in the first half. Even a field goal would be fine; SDSU just couldn’t score a touchdown against ASU’s stout defense.
Sure enough, the Aztecs marched down the field. On the 11th play of the drive, Agnew found wideout Tim Wilson Jr. in the end zone from nine yards out with eight seconds showing on the clock. Wilson Jr.’s only reception of the contest resulted in a 14-14 tie at half, a bitter pill to swallow for Sun Devils backers.
4. Cowboys +2.5 second half, Giants/Cowboys UNDER 21 points second half
This Sunday night clash between NFC East rivals was an ugly watch, and it was even crueler that there were bettors who had to suffer a horrific fate at the end of an otherwise boring game.
The Cowboys led 10-0 at the break, and were continuing to roll in the second half. After Ezekiel Elliott dove for the goal line to cap an eight-yard scoring run, Dallas went up 20-3 with 5:45 left. So for Cowboys +2.5 2H and 2H under gamblers, they were both looking great with Eli Manning and a Giants offense that had done practically nothing at AT&T Stadium.
Despite a three-score deficit late, the Giants steadily went down the field and reached the red zone with 1:55 remaining. After an incompletion, a delay of game and a short pass to Saquon Barkley, New York had a third-and-9 from the Dallas 18-yard line. Manning then found a wide-open Evan Engram for the team’s first touchdown of the night.
Now trailing 20-10, the Giants attempted an onside kick … and actually managed to recover it. Once again, New York wasted a good amount of time (it reached the Dallas 37 yard-line with 46 seconds left), but with the chance to make it a one-score game, Pat Shurmur sent out Aldrick Rosas for a 38-yard attempt. The field goal was true, and it was a good punch to the stomach to several bettors who wagered on the second half of this dreadful game. And just for kicks, Rosas’s second onside went out of bounds to clinch a 20-13 win for the Cowboys.
3. Alabama at Ole Miss OVER 71 points
This was the highest closing total ever in a game involving a Nick Saban-coached team, and for good measure. The Rebels have an explosive offense headlined by arguably the top receiver corps in the country, to go along with a non-existent defense. With Tua Tagovailoa under center, this Alabama offense is the most potent it’s ever been under Saban. And while the Crimson Tide defense is loaded, the weak spot of this unit is the secondary.
On the first play of the game, Ole Miss QB Jordan Ta’amu connected with wideout D.K. Metcalf for a 75-yard score. A little more than a minute later, Alabama tailback Damien Harris scampered 43 yards to the end zone to make it 7-7. Those plays set the tone for a high-scoring affair, and the Tide led 28-7 at the end of the quarter. Alabama added three more touchdowns in the second to make it a 49-7 score at the half.
Just 16 points away from the over at the break, it seemed like a given these two teams could reach that amount in the final 30 minutes. The Rebels put up a giant zero in the second half, and to make matters worse for over backers, Alabama only mustered 13 points of its own. The scoreboard read 62-7 as time expired, leaving over 71 points bettors just as dispirited as the unfortunate teams who have to face Alabama.
2. Dolphins at Jets OVER 21 points first half
To be fair, it looked like this wager was going to lose throughout most of this AFC East battle’s first 30 minutes. With the Dolphins already up 7-0, Miami recovered a Robby Anderson fumble at the Jets 49-yard line with 4:56 left in the second quarter.
Two plays later, Ryan Tannehill threw a 29-yard touchdown to Albert Wilson, and the Dolphins padded their lead. A Jets three-and-out gave the Dolphins the ball back with 2:29 remaining in the half. Miami promptly ran an excellent two-minute drill, reaching paydirt once again after A.J. Derby was on the receiving end of a 19-yard score. Over bettors were about to count their lucky blessings after Miami’s late-points explosion looked to at least salvage their bet with a push … pending the extra point. But Jason Saunders missed the kick, leaving over backers just one point shy without much hope.
Saunders booted the ensuing kickoff for a touchback, and shockingly ultra-conservative head coach Todd Bowles decided to play it aggressively with 42 seconds left until the break. Rookie QB Sam Darnold hit Terrelle Pryor deep for 44 yards, and the Jets were in business. Fast-forward a few plays and burned timeouts later, and the Jets were at the Dolphins 14-yard line with 10 seconds left and no TOs left.
All over bettors needed was a field goal to cash their bet. New York opted for one last shot into the end zone before taking a FG and below is what transpired.
1. USC +1.5 first half
People who took the Trojans here have a legitimate gripe against the officials.
At the start, it seemed like this bet would have been an easy win, as USC raced out to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter. Texas cut it to 14-13 after two scoring drives in the second quarter, and then things got wonky.
USC had third-and-goal from the Texas one-yard line, and running back Vavae Malepeai was stuffed for no gain. On fourth down, Clay Helton rolled the dice and USC ran a toss sweep to a different tailback, the speedier Stephen Carr. A smart idea, except there were no blockers leading the way along the outside, so Carr was alone on an island against multiple Texas defenders. Needless to say, this did not end well and the Longhorns got the ball back at the 4-yard line.
On second down, it appeared Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger was sacked for what looked to be a safety, but was originally ruled that he just made it out of the end zone. The play was reviewed, and here are a couple photos of what the referees saw.
And after the review, the official announced that … the call on the field STOOD. WHAT?
Instead of USC getting the ball back on a free kick up 16-13, Texas still had the ball deep in Trojans territory down 14-13.
Texas would later punt on that drive, then received the ball back at midfield with 2:20 left in the half after a 13-yard punt by USC’s Chris Tilbey. Freshman kicker Cameron Dicker drilled a first-half dagger into the heart and soul of Trojans bettors after knocking in a 46-yard field goal as time expired. Texas 16, USC 14 at the half. A non-safety call that certainly would have swung that bet. Thoughts and prayers to those who suffered the loss here.