The One(s) that got Away

Some things are worth repeating, or at least they get repeated whether we want them to or not. Backdoor covers are seemingly always the gift that keeps on giving, especially in college football. Last week was no exception. Let’s take a closer look…

Case #1: #9 Ohio State (7-0) @ #13 Penn State (6-1) Betting Line: OSU -15.5

The dominant Ohio State Buckeyes travel to Penn State and the raucous crowd at Beaver Stadium. Penn State was blasted by Michigan on the road but one look at the line opens your eyes. Wait, the Nittany Lions are getting 14+ points at home? As good as the Buckeyes offense is, can’t pass up this number.

The first half couldn’t have gone any smoother. Penn State survives two interceptions and still comes out with a 14-13 lead. Wait, they spot the nation’s #1 offense two extra possessions and lead by one…I smell easy money. Why am I always fooled by that smell?

The third quarter could not have gone much better, ok some points for the Nittany Lions would have been nice, with just three total points scored by the Buckeyes and a very slight 16-14 deficit. With the 14.5 points in tow, how can you not feel good about this game at this point.

With nine minutes left, Penn State drives down to take the lead, 21-16! Hold the phone, things are getting comfortable. These two teams combined for three points in the 3rd quarter, great sign. Why do these signs always vex me?! In nearly a blink of an eye, the Buckeyes go right down the field and score in under two minutes, 23-21 Buckeyes. Ok, just need a long drive and even a field goal puts this one on…FUMBLE!!! Inside their own 20, Penn State coughs it up. One play later, good God its 30-21 Ohio State. Ok, no need to panic, Penn State will drive right down the field. Nope, but we have a field goal. Ok, 30-24 and a stop will give Penn State a chance to tie it but, more importantly, kill some clock. Ohio State, however, is relentless and in minutes it is 37-24. Thirteen points down with 14.5 points to play with, what could go wrong? Inside their own 20, back to pass and…INTERCEPTION..pick six!! The jaws of victory are sore after defeat was yanked directly from it. 44-24 with two minutes left. It’s over, thanks for playing. Wait, first down Penn State. Oh who am I kidding, it's over. First down again, midfield. Here comes the interception, I just know it…first down. Feel free to sit up in your seat. Inside the 20, the heart beats a bit faster in a game otherwise lost. TOUCHDOWN!! Are you kidding me?! Defeat staggers away as victory is snatched from it! Ohio State’s onside recovery and kneel downs never were so appreciated.

Final Score: Ohio State 44 Penn State 31 Spread -14.5: Win

Case #2: #9 TCU (8-0) @ West Virginia (3-5) Betting Line: TCU -7.5

The TCU Horned Frogs have quietly remained undefeated and pushing towards a playoff spot as the season hits the home stretch. Undefeated and on the road against the underachieving Mountaineers, sounds like a good one. Oh and the Mountaineers defense hands out touchdowns like candy on halloween? This line seems good to me. Why do I always think that?

The score is 7-7 after one quarter. No worries, this is the Big XII and West Virginia’s defense hasn’t been as welcoming, yet. At halftime the score is 28-21 in favor of the Horned Frogs. Ok, TCU perhaps has been a bit more welcoming to the Mountaineers than anyone leaning their way would like, but just need a solid second half. A point away from paydirt.

Only three points scored in the third quarter, and it was a West Virginia field goal. Wait, three points only in the third quarter, where have I heard that before? 28-24 is completely do-able, however. TCU’s offense just needs a touchdown and we are in the money. Two minutes into the fourth, a 14-play TCU drive turns into three points. 31-24 TCU and one score from a win. TCU gets a short field minutes later and…settles for a field goal. 34-24 with nine minutes left. Admittedly, that is an eternity in college football. 12 plays later, West Virginia dashes the hopes and dreams of Horned Frog backers everywhere, 34-31 TCU.

What happened next will go down in betting lore and will be studied by scholars for years. TCU has the ball and really just needs first downs to end this game. Well they get that, more than a few. This thing is over. At the West Virginia 29 yard line with under 30 seconds left, one more kneel down and…wait, he’s going back to pass! He’s throwing it to the end zone! There’s no way, this can’t be happening…TOUCHDOWN!!! Good God almighty they broke the code!! Bless you Sonny Dykes and we forgive you for scorning SMU!!

Final Score: TCU 44 West Virginia 34 Spread -7.5: Win

The lesson here is simple, sometimes you are the windshield and sometimes you are the bug. Backdoor covers will make windshields and bugs out of us all! 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

Author Profile
Ben Hayes

Ben has been a sports writer for over 35 years, dabbling in college and pro basketball, college and pro football, baseball, college lacrosse, minor league baseball and even college gymnastics. He's also been involved in the gaming industry for nearly 30 years and has been looking to beat the books since he was 13! Ben has had great success in handicapping college football, the NFL, college basketball, the NBA and MLB for 27+ years. His Twitter handle is @BenHayesWAW