It’s time again for our weekly look back at the highs and lows of the college football week from a betting perspective — the last time we’ll be doing it this season. I’ll start out with a complaint about the most frustrating game I have watched in a very long time, and then hit on four more games that surely frustrated others almost as much.
Ohio State 26, Michigan 21
This one wasn’t the most crushing defeats for bettors — Ohio State only covered by a single point, but they kicked the final field goal with more than six minutes left and the result wasn’t in much doubt after that point. As a huge Michigan fan, though, this is a game that will haunt me for years to come. Al Borges, the Michigan offensive coordinator, called the worst second half it is possible for anyone to call. It was a disgrace. Denard Robinson is fighting an injury. He was well enough to play, but he could only run because his passing arm was hurt. He was still a threat to run, though, as he showed with a second quarter 67-yard TD run. Devin Gardner, the starting quarterback, was an effective passer who was having no luck running on the day. Instead of doing something logical like putting both quarterbacks in at the same time to confuse and confound the Ohio State defense, they put in Robinson to run and Gardner to pass. They were essentially giving away the play before each snap, and then seemed shocked when Ohio State could defend it. It was disgusting, and anyone who bet on the Wolverines deserves to have their bet refunded by Borges personally.
East Carolina 65, Marshall 59
East Carolina was favored by 6.5 and only won by six, so this was a crushing defeat for bettors no matter what. When you factor in how it happened, though, it’s particularly painful. After three quarters East Carolina was up by a touchdown and looked to be in good shape. With 1:55 left in the fourth, though, Marshall scored to take the lead by a touchdown. East Carolina fought back to tie it up with just four seconds left to force overtime. Marshall scored first in the extra stanza, and the Pirates matched. The Marshall failed to score, so the door was wide open for East Carolina. They looked in complete control as they marched down the field to score the winning touchdown. The problem, of course, was that they were the second team to go in overtime, so the game ended before they had to kick the extra point — the extra point that would have resulted in a covered spread.
Penn State 24, Wisconsin 21
The Nittany Lions ended a shockingly strong season with a win against Wisconsin. Given all that they were facing coming into the season, I never would have guessed that they would wind up at 8-4, or an incredibly strong 9-2-1 ATS. They covered this game as one-point favorites, but they didn’t make it easy. Wisconsin tied it up with just 18 seconds left, so overtime was needed. Penn State held off Wisconsin and kicked a field goal of their own to seal the win and reward their bettors — bettors who have been royally rewarded all year for believing in a team it was very easy to doubt.
Louisiana Monroe 23, Florida International 17
Louisiana Monroe covered the 4.5-point spread, but the way it happened was one for the ages. With 28 seconds left, the Warhawks were up by a touchdown. Kolton Browning, the QB who we got to know when he pulled off the upset of Arkansas back when we thought that that actually meant something, only had to kneel down in victory formation to seal the win. Impossibly, though, they messed it up and fumbled, and Florida International recovered. Two plays and only 14 seconds later they scored to tie it up. That meant overtime. The Warhawks held on defense and then scored a touchdown to seal the win, but not before their backers had had a heart attack.
Colorado State 24, New Mexico 20
The spread in this one was four points with the Rams favored, so the game ended up as a “push”. It was a bit wild getting there, though. Colorado State dominated early and was up 14-0 less than nine minutes into the game. They floundered after that point, though, and were particularly underwhelming in the second half. New Mexico chipped away at the lead, and then went ahead for the only time on the day with a 55-yard TD pass with three minutes left. Fear of losing was what the Rams seemed to need because they finally woke up and scored on a 30-yard bomb of their own a minute and a half later to take the lead for good.