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.
Los Angeles Rams 29, Green Bay Packers 27
Line: Rams -7.5
Bad beats happen every week in college and pro football. Then there are beats that are all-timers. Beats so bad they will be talked about by gamblers and in Las Vegas forever. On Sunday, we had one of those beats.
I’m sure you’ve seen the play by now. The Rams led 29-27 with just over a minute to go in the game when Todd Gurley broke free for what looked like a 21-yard touchdown run. The score would have not only covered the spread for many Rams bettors (the line opened at 9.5), it also would have put the game OVER the total.
First, let’s state the obvious: Gurley absolutely did the right thing by not scoring. Forget about gambling or your fantasy team, it makes no sense for Gurley to score in that situation. Would the Rams win the game up nine points with less than a minute left? Most likely. The difference is they are guaranteed to win the game if Gurley doesn’t score. While the odds may not be high, the Packers still have a mathematical chance to win the game if they get the ball back down nine points. They have zero chance to win the game if Gurley takes a knee and the clock runs out.
Now let’s get to the gambling fallout of Gurley’s decision. The Rams/Packers matchup was the most bet game on Sunday at most sportsbooks. In other words, there was a lot of money riding on the game and Gurley’s decision was the difference between winning and losing for many people.
The line opened at 9.5 and that was the number used in the Westgate SuperContest where Green Bay was the most popular pick. However, the number closed at Rams -7.5 and close to 60 percent of bets were on the Packers, although 60 percent of the money wagered was on the Rams. Obviously, Gurley’s decision not to score was a huge swing for many people.
The total is a different story with a majority of the money coming in on one side. With two high-scoring teams facing each other, it’s not surprising that 75 percent of bets and 83 percent of the money wagered was on the OVER. That’s the toughest beat of the game because the play happened on 3rd and 10. If Gurley just gets stopped, there’s a possibility the Rams kick a field goal and the game goes OVER 57. The fact that Gurley broke free for a touchdown and decided to take a knee instead was a crushing blow to OVER bettors.
Also crushing? Gurley trolling bettors and fantasy players on Twitter after the game.
No matter what side you were on, the Gurley non-score is a play that won’t soon be forgotten in the gambling community.
Nebraska 45, Bethune-Cookman 9
Line: Nebraska -41
Did you have Nebraska laying 41 points on Saturday? If so, you suffered one of the worst beats of the college football season.
As expected, the Cornhuskers were cruising at home. Nebraska scored early in the fourth quarter to make it 45-3 then called off the dogs. The problem for Nebraska bettors is they needed one more score to prevent Bethune-Cookman from sneaking in the back door.
It didn’t look like it would be an issue because the Wildcats couldn’t do anything on offense. Bethune-Cookman got the ball with 7:08 remaining. The Wildcats just wanted to take their check and go home, so they started running the ball. In one of the most unbelievable drives you’ll ever see to cover a spread, Bethune-Cookman held the ball for 10 plays and went 82 yards. Nine of those plays were runs.
Bethune-Cookman had no desire to score a touchdown. They even got a delay of game on 3rd and 1 and then ran the ball for 11 yards on 3rd and 6. It’s really one of the most amazing final drives for a bad beat in the history of football.
On the final play of the game with the clocking ticking down, Bethune-Cookman handed the ball off again to running back Alfred Adams, who crossed the goal line for a 5-yard touchdown with no time left to cover the spread. Oh yeah, it was Adams’ first career touchdown too and he’s a senior. Can’t make it up.
A 10-play drive. Nine runs. Bethune-Cookman marched down the field to score with zeros on the clock. That’s a tough beat.
Iowa State 40, Texas Tech 31
Line: Texas Tech +5.5
This was an entertaining, back and forth game. Until the very end, it was the kind of game where you were nervous laying points because from the second quarter on, no team had more than a touchdown lead. That held true right up until the last couple of minutes.
Texas Tech trailed 31-24 entering the fourth quarter but the Red Raiders tied things up when Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy fumbled in the end zone and Dakota Allen fell on the ball for a touchdown.
Texas Tech backers had to feel like they were in good shape when the Red Raiders had the ball with 4:39 remaining in a tie game. This time though, it was Texas Tech quarterback Alan Bowman who got sacked in the end zone for a safety, giving Iowa State a 33-31 lead and the ball.
Now, with just over four minutes remaining, even an Iowa State field goal doesn’t cover the spread. Unfortunately for Texas Tech bettors, a touchdown did.
Iowa State faced a 3rd and 9 from the Texas Tech 48-yard line. A first down and the game is essentially over because Iowa State could run out the clock. Instead, Purdy hit Hakeem Butler for a 48-yard touchdown to give the Cyclones a 40-31 lead and Texas Tech bettors a punch to the gut.
The Red Raiders did have just over two minutes left to score a “meaningless” touchdown and cover the spread. It wasn’t meant to be though as Bowman was intercepted with 1:40 left, ending any hope for a late cover.
The touchdown by Iowa State marked the first time since 13:35 in the second quarter that either team led by more than one possession. The sportsbooks took a hit on the late score by the Cyclones with around 60 percent of the money coming in on Iowa State.