Betting on college football in 2020 has been a whirlwind.
There have been plenty of circumstances where you think you have an edge, only to find out 20 minutes before kickoff that a dozen players on a team are unavailable because of COVID-19 protocols.
That happened in quite a few games over the weekend, and there were other games that had brutally bad beats.
Tulane vs. Tulsa
The bad beats started on Thursday night in the Tulane vs. Tulsa game. No. 25 Tulsa, undefeated in AAC play, was coming off a big come-from-behind win over SMU.
Tulsa was a 5.5-point home favorite, but things were looking good for Tulane backers well into the fourth quarter. Tulane had built a 14-0 lead and Tulsa was down to its third-string quarterback, Davis Brin.
Brin, to his credit, led an impressive comeback. First, he cut the deficit to 14-7 with an 18-yard touchdown run with 9:17 to go before tying the score with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Josh Johnson on fourth-and-16 with 3:16 left in regulation.
Tulane, though, responded with a touchdown of its own at the 1:38 mark to go up 21-14. Soon enough, Tulsa was down to one final play in its effort to force overtime — and one play away from a win for those who bet on Tulane.
That’s when this happened:
Brin lobbed one up to JuanCarlos Santana for a 37-yard touchdown as time expired, forcing overtime.
All of a sudden, that Tulane +5.5 ticket was in jeopardy. It was about to get way worse.
The teams traded field goals in the first overtime, and Tulane began double-overtime on offense. On third-and-goal from the 3-yard line, Michael Pratt dropped back to pass and was picked off by Tulsa star Zaven Collins, who returned it 96 yards for the rare overtime walk-off pick six.
To recap: Tulsa overcame a two-score fourth-quarter deficit with a third-string quarterback, forced overtime with a 37-yard touchdown as time expired in the fourth quarter and won on a 96-yard pick six. Yeah, that’s a bad beat if you had money on Tulane.
Purdue vs. Minnesota
Minnesota was in action on a Friday night for the third time this season and were two-point home underdogs against Purdue.
The Gophers led all night, but were on the ropes in the final minutes. Purdue trailed 34-24 early in the fourth quarter, but cut the lead to 34-31 with 8:31 to go. On the ensuing drive, Minnesota went for it and failed on fourth-and-1 from its own 34-yard line.
All of a sudden, Purdue had tremendous field position with the chance to go in front. But the Boilermakers couldn’t capitalize as J.D. Dellinger missed a 33-yard field goal.
The Purdue defense, though, quickly forced a three-and-out and got the offense back on the field. This time, it looked like Purdue had finally taken the lead when Jack Plummer hit Payne Durham for a 19-yard touchdown. The touchdown, however, was wiped off the board by a controversial offensive pass interference call on Durham.
On the very next play, Plummer threw an interception and what looked like a win for Purdue bettors was all of a sudden a brutal loss — mainly thanks to questionable officiating.
UCLA vs. Oregon
This one may not have had as many wagers as the prominent Thursday and Friday night games above. But if you bet UCLA on the first-half moneyline against No. 11 Oregon, you may never want to place another bet again.
UCLA, playing without starting quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, was a 17.5-point underdog to the Ducks but held a 21-17 lead late in the first half. The UCLA offense was on the field at its own 44-yard line with six seconds left in the half, and only an absolute disaster would cost you your first-half moneyline bet.
This would be that disaster.
Chase Griffin stepped up in the pocket and was drilled as he tried to launch one to the end zone. The ball was intercepted by Jordan Happle, who returned it all the way for a touchdown, flipping a four-point UCLA lead to a 24-21 Oregon lead at the break.
UCLA’s first-half moneyline odds were +350 at BetMGM, meaning a $100 bet would net you a $350 return. What would have been a big win for UCLA backers turned into a heartbreaking loss.
Cincinnati vs. UCF
Elsewhere on Saturday was a big game in the American Athletic Conference between undefeated Cincinnati and UCF, a team with one of the best offenses in the country.
Cincinnati closed as four-point favorites at BetMGM, and had the ball up 36-33 with a chance to close out the game. The Bearcats moved the ball all the way into the red zone. On first-and-goal from the 5-yard line with 1:43 remaining, Cincinnati running back Gerrid Doaks took a handoff and had a clear path to the end zone.
A touchdown would have put Cincinnati up by nine points — a two-possession advantage that would have covered the spread for Cincinnati bettors — but Doaks curiously decided to go down at the 1-yard line.
Doaks falling short of the goal line caused UCF to use its final timeout with 1:34 remaining.
It looked like Cincinnati would simply kneel from there and run the clock out. But the Bearcats ran the ball up the gut twice more with Doaks, who was stuffed for no gain.
On fourth down, a shotgun snap eluded quarterback Desmond Ridder, who was able to pounce on the ball with UCF defenders pursuing. Cincinnati avoided a disaster, and won 36-33, but it was still an awful turn of events for bettors who had the Bearcats covering the spread.
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