Each week, TheLines takes a look back at some of the worst sports betting “bad beats” from the weekend of college and pro football. These incredible moments caused a swing in money at sportsbooks, resulting in jubilation — and plenty of pain — for bettors everywhere.
Falcons 34, Buccaneers 29
Line: Buccaneers +3
Sometimes gamblers can do everything right but circumstances and luck decide the outcome. That was the case when the Buccaneers played the Falcons on Sunday. In a matchup between the NFL’s two worst defenses, it was all offense as anticipated, although the spread would be decided by a kicker.
The Falcons closed as three-point favorites at most Las Vegas and New Jersey sportsbooks and early on it looked like it would be a laugher for Atlanta. The Falcons jumped out to a 21-6 lead and led 24-13 at halftime.
However, with the Falcons’ defense, no lead is safe. The Buccaneers rallied in the second half, cutting Atlanta’s lead to 31-29 after a failed two-point conversion could have tied the game with 3:47 remaining.
The Falcons got the ball back and were content to just run out the clock. If successful, it would give Buccaneers backers a hard-fought cover. Atlanta faced a third-and-two with 1:53 remaining and Tampa Bay out of timeouts. A first down and the game is over. Falcons running back Tevin Coleman got stuffed for no gain on third down, setting up a dramatic win for some gamblers and a gut-wrenching loss for others.
Instead of punting, Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant emerged to give Falcons bettors a glimmer of hope and those on the Bucs +3 a panic attack. Bryant drilled a 57-yard field goal. He injured himself on the kick but Atlanta bettors were probably too busy celebrating to even notice. The kick gave the Falcons a 34-29 lead and likely cover.
Buccaneers bettors weren’t dead yet though. Jameis Winston drove the Bucs down the field and came within a couple of yards of scoring on a wild final play where Winston lateraled the ball to Adam Humphries, who lateraled to Mike Evans, who lateraled to DeSean Jackson inside the five. Tampa Bay came up just short though.
The final two minutes went from a bad beat for Falcons bettors to a bad beat for Bucs bettors thanks to a third down stop and 57-yard field goal.
Florida 37, Vanderbilt 27
Line: Vanderbilt +9.5
This was a sandwich game for Florida after upsetting LSU last week and facing rival Georgia on Oct. 27. Those who took Vanderbilt thinking the Gators might come into the game flat were looking good after the Commodores stormed out to a 21-3 lead in the second quarter.
Unfortunately for Vanderbilt backers, the Gators woke up. Florida scored 24 unanswered points to take a 27-21 lead early in the fourth quarter. After a Vanderbilt field goal, Florida’s Freddie Swain caught an 11-yard touchdown pass with 8:07 left in the game to give the Gators a 10-point lead. More importantly, Florida was covering the spread after falling behind by 18 points early.
The game would be a bad beat for Vandy bettors if it ended there but it was only just beginning. The last eight minutes is where the real gambling roller coaster started. Vanderbilt stalled on a 14-play drive, forcing the Commodores to settle for a 53-yard field goal attempt with 3:55 remaining.
Those three points were obviously huge because Vanderbilt went from outside the number to inside with a successful kick. The problem: Vanderbilt kicker Ryley Guay had already missed a 25-yard field goal earlier in the game and his long for the season was 42 yards. But Guay calmly stepped up and drilled the 53-yarder to give the Commodores a potential cover.
Florida just needed to run out the clock and go home. The Gators faced a third-and-one from the Vanderbilt 25-yard line with just over a minute on the clock. Vanderbilt bettors were one yard away from victory. One yard for the Gators and the clock runs out. But Lamical Perine took the handoff and got met by a wall of Vanderbilt defenders, losing two yards. Florida opted to kick and Evan McPherson connected on a 43-yard field goal to give the Gators a 37-27 win and half-point cover.
It’s bad enough to lose a game when you were up 21-3 and getting 10 points. It’s even worse when you’re one yard away from victory and don’t cash.
According to Sports Insights, William Hill took a beating with the Florida cover as 81 percent of bets and 76 percent of the money were on the Gators.
Michigan 38, Wisconsin 13
Wisconsin vs. Michigan. It just screams a low-scoring, defensive battle. That’s the way it was shaping up for much of the game to the delight of UNDER bettors. Right up until a wild fourth quarter where the two teams combined for 23 points.
Michigan led Wisconsin 13-7 at the half, so for those bettors expecting a low scoring game, everything was going to plan with two quarters to go. The Wolverines scored the only touchdown in the third and after a successful two-point conversion, Michigan took a 21-7 lead into the final quarter.
Here’s where the wheels came off for UNDER bettors. Michigan began to blow the game open after Lavert Hill returned an interception 21 yards for a touchdown to give Michigan a commanding 31-7 lead with 9:55 remaining. There was some good news for UNDER bettors though. They could still give up a touchdown and Michigan put its backups in the game on offense.
Now for the bad news. Backup quarterback Dylan McCaffrey ripped off a 44-yard touchdown run with 5:16 left in the game to make it 38-7 Wolverines.
With UNDER bettors still clinging to a win, Wisconsin put the nail in their coffin on the next possession. After getting shut down all night long, the Badgers marched down the field to score a “meaningless” touchdown and put the game OVER.
UNDER bettors were left to swallow a loss where Wisconsin’s Alex Hornibrook completed just seven passes and neither quarterback threw for more than 125 yards.