The One(s) That Got Away-Bowl Games
The One(s) that got Away
Bowl season is still in full effect and that means more ways for games to get away from us. Even during the holiday season, the hits keep coming. Let’s look at how some apparent holiday presents turned into coal.
Case #1: Wake Forest (7-5) vs. Missouri (6-6) Betting Line: Over 58.5
Last week, we looked at the issue of transfer portal players, players opting out to prepare for the draft and changes to coaching staffs that influence betting lines and outcomes. Another major proponent of bowl season is the dreaded layoff. Some teams have not played a game in nearly a month or more heading into their bowl matchups. While it may be a benefit from a health standpoint, it doesn’t help from a continuity aspect.
We haven’t examined one betting aspect this year that can be a great way to take advantage of the line: the over/under. A quick glance at this game had the over looking like the play. Wake Forest has one of the most potent pass games in the country, QB Sam Hartman was likely playing in his final college football game, and Wake Forest themselves have an awful defense. Throw in the fact that several Missouri defenders were not expected to suit up and 58.5 points seemed like a layup. Hmm, layup sort of sounds like a layoff. No matter, on with the scoring frenzy!
The score was 7-3 after one quarter. Ok, not a scoring flurry by any means but the conditions were perfect and Wake Forest was just getting warmed up. A quick Wake touchdown to start the second quarter begins the calculator working in my head: 17 points…just need five more touchdowns. Child’s play in this one. A dismal rest of the quarter sees just one touchdown from the Tigers and the score is 14-10 at the half. As the bands duel at halftime, I settle into the math yet again. Ok, four touchdowns and a field goal in the second half. We’ve got this.
By the end of the third quarter, it is just 20-17 Wake Forest. I’m now pulling out the scrap paper and figuring out the possibilities. Ok, we’re gonna need three scores from the potent Wake offense and a late touchdown from Missouri to seal this one. I crumpled the paper in frustration. But, this is college football, scoring can be fast and furious. Someone call Vin Diesel and see who he took in this game.
The fourth quarter is sloppy and with little movement. By the time Hartman throws what will likely be his final college football touchdown pass with just over two minutes left, I know it’s over. The layoff killed me. Both teams took too long to crank it up offensively and then, even when they showed flashes, couldn’t maintain consistency. So, even when you think you have the perfect blend of great offense and poor defense, never discount rust. It is real and it is not spectacular.
Final Score: Wake Forest 27 Missouri 17 O/U 58.5 Loss
Case #2: Eastern Michigan (8-4) @ San Jose State (7-4) Betting Line: SJS -4
Again, I was swayed by the vision of footballs being passed all over the field heading into the Idaho Potato Bowl between Eastern Michigan and San Jose State. San Jose State came in with the 30th-ranked passing attack in the country and a stout defense both against the pass and run. EMU was very good against the pass but they were not a top-50 team either running or passing the ball. Four points seemed light in this one and it seemed inevitable that San Jose State would build a lead that EMU couldn’t recover from.
By the time San Jose State threw its second touchdown pass halfway through the first quarter, I was feeling good. Just need to tack on the extra point and…BLOCKED!! Oh, wait, Eastern Michigan picks up the loose ball and rumbles for a PAT score. Instead of 14-0 San Jose State, it is now 13-2. That can’t be much of a momentum builder…can it?
By the time I was able to pick myself up off the floor in disbelief, it was 33-13 Eastern Michigan with the lead. Thirty-three straight points after San Jose State prepared for what seemed like a rather innocuous extra-point try. Momentum not only shifted to the Eastern Michigan sidelines, it turned halfway across the field and went back and slapped San Jose State right in the face. With five minutes to go in the third quarter, San Jose State finally scored again and it was 33-20. Momentum taunted me and started slowly heading back towards the San Jose State sidelines but then laughed and pivoted back to Eastern Michigan as they tacked on another touchdown to close the third quarter, 41-20.
The fourth quarter was a mere formality as San Jose State scored a touchdown but was silenced the rest of the way. That blue-colored turf of the host Boise State’s field was now taunting me as well. As the Eastern Michigan coach was doused with salty french fries in a tasty victory symbol, I cursed at momentum and how fickle he was while he dined on cold french fries.
Final Score: EMU 41 SJS 27 Spread SJS -4: Loss
The lessons we learned this week: Rust is real and unsightly and Uncle Mo Mentum sometimes visits more than one family for the holidays and there’s no telling where he might decide to stay. Check in next week for another sampling of ‘The One(s) that got Away’. Also, be sure to check out my premium bets and packages here for all the inside knowledge in baseball, the NBA, the NHL, the NFL and college football.
*College football lines courtesy of draftkings.com
By Mark Ruelle