• Most people know about Oregon's debacle against Stanford. But a couple other absurd betting losses from Miami-Ohio/Bowling Green and North Dakota State/Delaware highlight this week's SI Backdoor Cover Jinx.
By Max Meyer
September 24, 2018

This was a weird week of football, as it was one filled with quite a few major upsets. Unfortunately for bettors, this week also had several excruciating betting losses. I’d even go so far as to say that the game in the No. 1 spot of this week’s SI Backdoor Cover Jinx was the most egregious betting loss of the season. But that’s not the only one, as we have such a Murderers’ Row of bad beats this week that it will be impossible to read without cringing throughout. And surprisingly zero NFL ones made the cut, we’re not putting the brief false hope of the Bears covering vs. the Cardinals in here because that didn’t deserve to win in the first place.

So off we go, if you dare to join us on this adventure. But first, as always, some music to put us in the mood.

5. Texas A&M +15.5/+16 first half at Alabama

It’s never fun betting against Alabama. People who took Texas A&M for the entire game finished unscathed, but those who opted to just take the Aggies in the first half weren’t as fortunate.

Texas A&M actually was hanging around in Tuscaloosa late in the second quarter, as a Seth Small 32-yard field goal cut the deficit to eight points with 3:24 left until the break. So barring a very unlikely two-point conversion decision from Nick Saban in the first half, Alabama needed to score twice to cover this line.

The Tide promptly drove down the field, as a Hale Hentges touchdown catch from Tua Tagovailoa capped a six-play, 75 yard drive that lasted a little over two minutes. The ensuing extra point made it 28-13 with 1:09 remaining.

A&M got the ball back, and quarterback Kellen Mond scampered twice for 17 yards to get the ball close to midfield. Using his arm, however, was costly. He was picked off by Patrick Surtain II, who returned it 20 yards to the Alabama 38-yard line. To add insult to injury, the Aggies were flagged for a late hit out of bounds, moving the ball to A&M territory.
A 17-yard reception by Henry Ruggs III put it at the Aggies’ 28-yard line, and the Tide drilled a 47-yard field goal as time expired to make it 31-13.
Already experiencing the sweats for your fellow bettors reading this? We’re just beginning.

4. Wisconsin/Iowa under 42/43/44 points

Ahhh, the ol’ Big Ten slugfest. Here are two teams who love punishing opponents in the trenches. Add that to seemingly constant shoddy quarterback plays, and you can see why Wisconsin and Iowa experience a good amount of ugly wins.

On Saturday night, it was looking toward heading down the path again. Wisconsin trailed 17-14 with 5:40 left after returning a short punt return to its own 12-yard line. Granted, under bettors were already tense about the possibility of overtime, since that’s where those wagers go to die. The Badgers began a clock-killing drive that saw them reach the end zone on a 17-yard pass from Alex Hornibrook to A.J. Taylor with 57 seconds left.

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After the extra point, it appeared this was the best-case scenario for those that bet the under. Since Wisconsin was up 21-17, Iowa couldn’t force overtime and had to drive all the way down the field to win the game. Instead, that drive quickly ended thanks to a Nate Stanley interception on third-and-four.

The Badgers had the ball at the Iowa 37-yard line, and the Hawkeyes had to burn two timeouts after Wisconsin runs on first and second down. On third-and-six, the Badgers just needed a first down to ice the game. They got the first down … and a lot more. Fullback Alec Ingold, yes fullback, turned a handoff into a 33-yard touchdown after a fake pitch to star tailback Jonathan Taylor fooled the Iowa defense.

Sure, he could have always fallen down after gaining the necessary yardage to clinch the game. But how many times does a fullback get to run for glory? Don’t hate the player, hate the game—one that ended with a 28-17 score.

3. North Dakota State -28.5 or higher

We don’t discriminate against the FCS, after all that distinction doesn’t stop true degenerates from betting on it as long as there’s value. No. 1 North Dakota State got off to a roaring start in its homecoming affair, scoring 28 points in the first quarter.

The Bison put another TD on the board in the second quarter, and nearly added another one, but was a few inches shy of paydirt on a fourth-and-20 throw as time expired.

A field goal in the third made it a 38-0 game, and the Blue Hens’ offense couldn’t get anything going whatsoever. Delaware was able to construct a 12 play, 62-yard drive, but faced a fourth-and-five from the Bison 16-yard line. Despite the massive deficit, the Blue Hens preferred to not have a zero listed next to their name on the scoreboard rather than gamble on fourth. So a 33-yard field goal made it 38-3.  

The threat of a backdoor cover suddenly appeared on the radar for those who bet North Dakota State 28.5 or higher, however those fears vanished after a 59-yard run by Adam Cofield had the Bison on the four-yard line and poised to score again.

But then catastrophe struck (2:04:35 into the video).

Cofield put the ball on the ground next carry, and Delaware scooped up the loose pigskin and returned it all the way back for a 92-yard touchdown with 1:57 left. With North Dakota State’s next drive consisting of three runs to finish off the clock, the heartbreaking defensive TD backdoor cover stood as the final points of the game.

2. Miami-Ohio/Bowling Green under 56/56.5 points

The Hail Mary is one of the most exciting plays in football, even though those deep throws have a miniscule chance of being completed. Yet when one actually connects, pandemonium strikes, and it seemingly always has implications in Vegas as well.

This game’s total opened at 56.5 and closed at 55. Whatever you bet the under at appeared to be in good shape midway through the fourth quarter, as the RedHawks led 31-3 with less than six minutes remaining. The Falcons then scored two touchdowns in a minute-and-a-half span (aided by a fourth-and-six conversion and a 30-yard punt by Miami-Ohio) to make it 31-17. 

Miami-Ohio recovered the onside kick, and after a 29-yard run by Alonzo Smith on fourth-and-two, the team had the ball at the Bowling Green three-yard line with 1:26 left. All the RedHawks had to do was kneel the ball to end the game, but instead they ran it in on second-and-goal with 34 seconds left. So this looked like a tough push to swallow for those who bet under 55 points, while those that bet under 56/56.5 barely surviving.

But it got dramatically worse.

Bowling Green started at its own 36-yard line with backup quarterback Grant Loy—who had not thrown a touchdown pass in his collegiate career—inserted for mop-up duty. Two completions and an 11-yard scramble advanced the ball at the Miami-Ohio 40 with five seconds left.

On the final play, Loy escaped an incoming pass rusher, rolled to his right and launched a desperation heave to the end zone. Three Miami-Ohio defenders were lined up in perfect position to swat it down. Instead, the pigskin was swatted up in the air to a waiting Justin Sawmiller, who got tackled in the end zone to make it 38-23 at the buzzer.

Don’t believe me? Here’s video of the play

1. Oregon at any number (ranging from -1.5 to +3)

That Miami-Ohio/Bowling Green under would definitely take the top spot here pretty much any other week. Oregon blowing this win and cover against Stanford, however, is an all-time meltdown. I’d rather not relive all the horrors since I bet on this game myself.

If you want to know why I experienced what felt like the real-life reenactment of the horror film scene where a character is hiding and you know the villain will strikingly appear at any moment to cause doom, below is a video of the game highlights (and for others like me, lowlights) and here is a good explanation of every major play (WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST KNEEL, MARIO CRISTOBAL?) that led to Stanford’s improbable comeback.