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Notable bets: Miami Hurricanes loss delivers a brutal bad beat for bettors

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Notable bets: Miami Hurricanes loss delivers a brutal bad beat for bettors

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The race for the worst bad beat of the college football season ended Saturday in Miami Gardens. It’s over, and it was brutal for bettors who participate in an increasingly popular type of long-shot wager.

In recent years, bookmakers have noticed an uptick in parlays made up of all big favorites not to cover the spread, but just to win the game straight up. For example, a bettor could place a $100, 14-leg parlay featuring some big college football favorites, such as Michigan over Minnesota and Miami over Georgia Tech, and get better than 18-1 odds. They’d be in position to win just over $1,800 if all five of the heavy favorites win as expected.

What happened in Miami late Saturday night wasn’t expected. The Hurricanes, undefeated and with growing expectations, were around a -1,400 favorite to beat Georgia Tech, meaning you’d have to risk $1,400 to win a $100. The underdog Yellow Jackets hung tough, but with 33 seconds left, Miami led 20-17 and was in position to take a knee to run out the remaining seconds and secure the win. With Georgia Tech out of timeouts, the Hurricanes’ win probability peaked at 99.4% late in the game. But something improbable happened.

Instead of taking a knee and heading to the locker room, the Hurricanes elected to hand ball off to running back Donald Chaney Jr. on what, barring disaster, would’ve been the final play. Chaney fumbled, Georgia Tech recovered and four plays later, the Yellow Jackets scored the winning touchdown on a 44-yard pass with one second to play.

“I know it’s the coach’s call,” said RL Watters, a 32-year-old food vendor from outside of Indianapolis, who included Miami on his money-line parlay. “But if I was the quarterback, I would’ve just taken a knee.”

Watters needed a Miami win to complete his $100, 14-leg parlay that would’ve won just over $1,830, one of his biggest recent betting scores. The other 13 legs had already come through. Watters got home in the fourth quarter of Georgia Tech-Miami and watched the ending on his phone, in bed. He couldn’t believe what transpired. He said it was by far the worst bad beat of his betting career, “because it didn’t make sense.”

“I’ve never been beat like that,” Watters said. “It’s mind-boggling, because the game’s over, completely over.”

It could’ve been worse. A FanDuel betting slip of a $7,000, 12-leg parlay full of heavy favorites, including Miami, circulated online. The other 11 legs hit, but the Hurricanes prevented a $45,450 score.

Miami’s reversal of fortune caused mixed results for bettors at Caesars Sportsbook. All the money-line parlays that included the Hurricanes were dashed, but bettors put enough on the underdog Yellow Jackets during the game, including when at 10-1 odds, to cut into the book’s profits, Caesars vice president of trading Craig Mucklow said.

“Our prematch team was happy, but our in-play team was like, ‘ugh,'” Mucklow said.

Money-line parlays, as they’re known, featuring big favorites have become a significant part of the weekend accounting for sportsbooks over the past decade. Bookmakers say their most lucrative days almost always include a few outright upsets by huge underdogs, because those squash the chalk-heavy money-line parlays.

Dave Sharapan, a longtime former bookmaker in Las Vegas, said money-line parlays became more popular than teaser bets — a type of wager where bettors are allowed to move the point spread in their favor — over the past decade.

“They’re a big part of the equation,” Sharapan, co-host of “The Bostonian vs. The Book” podcast, said. “They’re a bigger part of the equation now than they ever have been.”

Georgia Tech’s upset of the Miami was its third win as an underdog of at least 19 points since last season, the most of any team in the FBS. The Yellow Jackets had two such wins in the previous 40 years. Miami is the only team in the FBS to lose twice as at least 19-point favorites since the start of last season.

NFL notables

• NFL underdogs went 7-6 against the spread Sunday, with six outright upsets. The Jaguars’ upset of the Bills in London was the best result for Caesars Sportsbook, while bettors did well on the Dolphins and Lions covering big spreads in wins over the Giants and Panthers respectively. Bettors also did well on the 49ers’ primetime blowout of the Cowboys.

Professional bettors at Caesars Sportsbook backed the underdog Jaguars against the Bills, potentially because of Buffalo’s decision not to travel to London until later in the week. “I couldn’t believe that,” Adam Pullen, assistant director of trading, said. “It definitely was a surprise to us that they didn’t leave until Friday.”

Overall, Pullen described Sunday’s results for the book as “decent, but nothing spectacular.”

Other sportsbooks didn’t fare as well as Caesars, though.

“Sunday will not go down as a good day,” John Murray, executive director of the SuperBook, told ESPN on Sunday. “[The] Giants and Vikings were our two biggest needs of the day before the night game. We did pick up a little money on the Falcons in this morning, but otherwise it’s been a day to forget.

• The Steelers improved to 52-29-3 against the spread as underdogs under coach Mike Tomlin with Sunday’s comeback win over the Ravens. It’s the best record against the spread as an underdog of any coach over the past 16 seasons.

Tomlin is 44-40 straight up as an underdog in his career, the best such record in the Super Bowl era (min. 25 games).

• The Broncos, who lost to the Jets as 2-point favorites, fell to 0-9-1 against the spread as favorites with quarterback Russell Wilson.

• All five games involving the Bears have gone over the total. All five games involving the Saints have stayed under the table.

Week 6 lines [via the SuperBook]

College football notables

• A bettor with DraftKings hit a $93 two-leg, same-game parlay on the Michigan-Minnesota game Saturday that paid $116,343. The bettor parlayed Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy to score two-plus touchdowns and Michigan’s defense to score at 1,250-1 odds. McCarthy scored on a pair of short touchdown runs in the second half, and the Wolverines returned two interceptions for touchdowns in a 52-10 blowout win over the Gophers.

• Caesars opened Notre Dame as a 1-point favorite over USC in Saturday’s showdown and took early action on the favored Irish, driving the line to -2.5 as of Sunday night.

Notable opening lines via Circa Sports

ESPN Stats & Information researcher Mackenzie Kraemer provided information for this column.

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