- A missed extra point, opting to not kick extra points and an extra point doinking in off the post are responsible for a few of the most excruciating betting losses in this week's SI Backdoor Cover Jinx.
November is a bittersweet month in sports. On one end, the playoff races are in full throttle and there are very few things that beat rivalry week in college football. But this is also the last month of the college football regular season. Imagining a world without 12-hour days on your couch—starting with Big Ten slugfests and ending with the weird theatrics of the Pac-12—is depressing.
So cherish the final few weeks where you can bet on Alabama in the first half or Tom Herman as an underdog (but not as a favorite!). You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.
Welcome back to the SI Backdoor Cover Jinx, where we rank the five most excruciating betting losses from this past week of football. A missed extra point, opting to not kick extra points and an extra point doinking in off the post were key for some of the worst beats to kick off the month.
Before we dive in, here are the accompanying tunes courtesy of Led Zeppelin to set the mood.
5. USC -8 first half
Putting your money down on the Trojans has not been a profitable endeavor this season (or for really most of the Clay Helton era), but USC couldn’t have asked for a better defense to face to fix its offensive issues in Oregon State.
Sure enough, USC scored touchdowns on its first three drives to take a 21-0 lead with 7:13 left in the half. It looked like the cover in the first half was in the bag.
But with anything related to USC this football season, nothing is easy. After a 55-yard kick return, Oregon State found the end zone eight plays later on a Jack Colletto run from six yards out.
With 4:15 remaining and a Trojans offense that had been rolling, USC bettors still had to be feeling good. USC moved the pigskin once again to Oregon State territory on a 24-yard snag by Tyler Vaughns. Unable to get another first down, the Trojans punted, and the Beavers had the ball at their own 15 with 1:11 remaining.
There are a few teams that would have played this situation conservatively. But give credit to the Beavers, who were a 16.5-point underdog and knew they couldn’t concede any possessions to win this game outright.
Six straight completions by Jake Luton put the ball at the USC 11 with 16 seconds left. Following an incompletion, it appeared like Oregon State had just one more attempt to get it into the end zone before a field goal to end the half.
Luton added to his last-minute first-half heroics, though, finding Noah Togiai with four ticks left until the break. While the Trojans ending up covering the game, first-half USC bettors had to endure this devastating backdoor loss.
4. Texas A&M +3.5
Hopefully you got this line immediately after reading our CFB staff’s best bets, as the Aggies were four-point underdogs when Andy Staples recommended it. And no, A&M +4 wouldn’t have won you money, however more importantly, it wouldn’t have lost you any either (it also helps that the best bets went 5-2-1 if you decided to take a few of them).
But enough promoting, it’s time for some commiserating.
Texas A&M was up 24-14 in the fourth, and looked destined to deliver the final blow on its first drive of the quarter. The Aggies reached the red zone, but gained just one yard on the ensuing three plays. It went from bad to worse, as Seth Small missed a 36-yard field goal.
The pendulum swung toward optimism again after Auburn’s three-and-out, resulting in the Tigers punting out of their own end zone. Despite great starting field position, A&M once again couldn’t convert as Kellen Mond was picked off by Noah Igbinoghene with seven minutes to go.
Still, Aggies bettors had to be feeling good knowing that Auburn needed two touchdowns from an offense that had put up zero points in the second half thus far. Nonetheless, the Tigers drove 71 yards in eight plays, with Chandler Cox’s one-yard scoring run capping a drive that ate up just two minutes of clock.
A&M once again had another chance to ice the game, and the start of this drive was promising thanks to two first downs, including one via an Auburn offsides penalty. Now at midfield and needing just one first down to finish off their SEC rival, the Aggies went backwards on two plays and Mond threw an incompletion on third.
After a 28-yard punt return, aided by A&M being fooled by a fake returner, Jarrett Stidham found an open Ryan Davis, who took it 47 yards to the 11-yard line. On the next play, Stidham tossed one to the back of the end zone for a lunging Seth Williams to give Auburn a 27-24 lead with 1:42 left.
On the all-important extra point, Anders Carlson gave every bettor an aneurysm as his kick bounced in off the upright (13:58 into the video below).
The Aggies’ final drive ended with a whimper, giving Auburn a miraculous four-point win and cover.
3. Temple +10
The Owls racked up 670 yards of offense and couldn’t cover as a double-digit underdog. That seems impossible.
Temple led for a majority of the first half, and was ahead by six points at the break. Despite UCF gaining the upper hand in the third, the Knights still were on the wrong side of the number.
But even the most deserving of sides don’t always cash. Following a Temple turnover on downs with 4:57 left, UCF had the ball up nine. Greg McCrae pulled off a 40-yard scamper to bring the ball into field-goal range. UCF was in clock-killing mode, but couldn’t get another first down, so Matthew Wright trotted on for a 32-yard field goal with 1:36 left.
He drilled it, giving UCF a 52-40 lead, marking the first time the Knights were covering the entire contest. UCF sealed the deal with Richie Grant intercepting Anthony Russo, which completed the reversal of a promising start to the betting week into a terrible Thursday.
2. Browns +5.5 first half
Betting against the Chiefs’ high-powered offense is never an easy pill to swallow, especially backing a team that had just fired its head coach and offensive coordinator.
It looked doomed to start, as Patrick Mahomes added two more touchdowns to his lofty total to give Kansas City a 14-3 lead at the beginning of the second quarter.
Luckily, the Browns were facing the Chiefs defense and didn’t have Hue Jackson making decisions. I’m not saying interim Gregg Williams is a good head coach either, but Williams went for it on fourth-and-two from the Kansas City 43-yard line—a situation that Jackson regularly (and egregiously) would opt to punt. The aggressiveness paid off, as Baker Mayfield hit Duke Johnson for a 23-yard gain to bring it into the red zone.
Nick Chubb scored from three yards out three plays later to make it 14-9, and Williams once again decided to roll the dice by going for two. The attempt failed, and the Chiefs, of course, responded with a touchdown on their next drive to boost their lead to 12.
The Browns had one more last-gasp effort to cover. A Dee Ford strip-sack of Mayfield and recovery was wiped away by his offsides flag, and the Chiefs were penalized on an encroachment on fourth-and-one at midfield to give Cleveland another first down.
Mayfield found Jarvis Landry for 17 yards, and then dumped it off to Duke Johnson two plays later. Johnson broke a tackle, and went 19 yards for the touchdown. All the Browns needed was an extra point to cover the first-half spread.
Except Williams decided to go for two again down 21-15. And unlike West Virginia converting both of its clutch two-point conversions (the first one nullified by a timeout) against Texas, Cleveland couldn’t convert again as Mayfield’s pass to Landry fell incomplete.
Going for two there was a questionable call, as attempting the extra point there to go down five ensures two things: 1. If the Chiefs kick a field goal, it’s still a one-possession game, and 2. You don’t have to rely on an extra point (which has been a major problem for the Browns this season) to win the game down five compared to being down six.
1. Washington State -3.5 second half
When you wager on #Pac12AfterDark, you know weird things are about to happen.
Washington State led 13-10 at the half, and the game turned into a full-on defensive struggle in the third quarter.
Cal had the ball still down three with 6:09 left in the third, when Willie Taylor III picked off Chase Garbers. Taylor, at the very least, was going to give the Cougars incredible field position, but Garbers forced a fumble inside the five on the return. The ball rolled into the end zone, where a Washington State player dived onto it and then lost it as it ended up going out of bounds for a touchback.
Simply put, the epitome of Pac-12 football.
Cal tied the game on a 46-yard field goal, and the teams were held scoreless for most of the fourth quarter after a critical Cal interception in the red zone and a Wazzu missed 30-yard field goal.
Graduate transfer Gardner Minshew has been a revelation for the Cougars this season, and the quarterback had another chance to put his name in Washington State lore after getting the ball back at the 31-yard line with 2:39 left.
Back-to-back 20-plus-yard completions moved the pigskin all the way to the Cal 10-yard line with 38 seconds left. All the Cougars had to do was run out the clock for a game-winning field-goal attempt. Potentially nervous due to the 30-yard FG miss earlier in the quarter, the Cougars chose to seek the end zone instead.
Minshew magic struck again, as the gunslinger connected with Easop Winston from 10 yards away to give Washington State a 19-13 lead with 38 seconds remaining. All Cougars bettors needed was the extra point to cover the -3.5 second-half spread.
Incredibly, Mazza missed the kick, and the game concluded with a score of 19-13. Washington State’s perfect ATS record came to an end after not covering -7.5 for the full game, and those who wagered in just the second half became the latest victims of gambling on #Pac12AfterDark.