The One(s) that got Away

The One(s) that got Away

It was another week and another week of betting lessons to be learned in week 12. We had the doink game, the dreaded missed PAT that caused a ripple in the score and ripple in the line. Along with the doink game, we were treated to another betting classic, the Trap Game. This week, let’s take a deeper dive into surefire wins that got away thanks to two different betting blunders.

Case #1: #4 TCU (9-0) @ Baylor (6-4) Betting Line: TCU -2.5

The TCU Horned Frogs rode into Baylor on an emotional high after being put in the fourth position in the college playoff rankings. TCU needed a win over an inconsistent Baylor team and they would finish up at home and a Big 12 title win away from their first-ever trip to the college football playoffs. The line sat at -2.5. Perfect. A field goal win in a tough conference matchup, even on the road, seemed well within grasp. What is that weird noise I hear? Like an object off of some piping of some kind?

Baylor didn’t put me at ease early on, marching right down the field on the ground and taking a quick 7-0 lead. This is the Big 12, however, so seven points certainly is not to be feared. TCU quickly tied the score at seven and it was on to quarter number two. The two teams exchanged touchdowns yet again and a 14-14 halftime score seemed very manageable for the highly motivated TCU squad.

Wait, I thought this was a Big 12 game? Suddenly both defenses came alive and it remained knotted at 14 until the Horned Frogs took over late in the third. Two quick plays later, and TCU jumped to a 20-14 lead with the formality of the extra point and..DOINK!!! Oh no! The extra point bounces off the goal post and I spend the next three minutes listening to the insufferable announcers explaining to me how much this might come back to haunt me…umm…I mean TCU.

In the blink of an eye in the fourth quarter, Baylor has scored two touchdowns. Their kicker, however, is as good as gold with each extra point and it’s 28-20 with under 10 minutes to play. A couple of punts later, TCU is down to what looks like a final drive. They even survive a couple of fourth down, do-or-die plays and punch it in with two minutes left. We know what is coming, two-point conversion. All or nothing. Get the two and we are in a great position. Miss it and…ugh!!! Dropped pass on the conversion!!! With two minutes left, no chance in this game but…TCU stops Baylor on three quick plays and gets the ball back with just over a minute to go. A couple of big plays later, they’re inside the Baylor 40. No timeouts, surely they’ll take their shots near the end zone or down the field. One missed coverage and we can..wait, why are they running the ball?! They don’t even have timeouts. What in the name of Sonny Dykes are they up to?! Inside the 30, they run up the middle and the clock is moving. A fire drill ensues. Off goes the offense, on comes the field goal unit. 5…4…3…2…the kick is up and good. A thrilling ending sickens TCU bettors everywhere. Instead of breaking what should have been a 28-28 tie and covering the 2.5 points, it is a one point TCU win and you want to strangle the kicker that is being carried off the field by his teammates.

Final Score: TCU 29 Baylor 28 Spread -2.5: Loss

Case #2: Illinois (7-3) @ #3 Michigan (10-0) Betting Line: Michigan -18

Let me start off by saying unequivocally, I should have seen this one coming. Here comes the Illinois Fighting Illini into the Big House in the midst of a two-game losing streak. It wasn’t just any two-game losing streak either. Both losses came at home as significant favorites and preceded a six-game winning streak that found Illinois in the Top-20 and football back on the map at the university. Two straight devastating losses at home? Check this team’s pulse and put them out of their misery.

On the other side of the field, we have the 3rd ranked Michigan Wolverines. 10-0 on the season with a devastating ground attack and an up and coming young quarterback that has proven to be more than just a caretaker for this team. While Illinois still comes in with the #4 defense in the country, the Wolverines have the #3 defense in the country! Oh and the 20th ranked offense compared with Illinois dismal 97th ranked offense. Additionally, Illinois' best offensive weapon, RB Chase Brown, is banged up. The Wolverine are favored by -18 but it feels like its just -2 for the amount of confidence I have.

Bet made and I don’t even feel like I have to look. I can’t believe Illinois even decided to show up to this organized massacre. As I walked to my couch, I suddenly found myself falling down a hole, unable to get out. What is this? It’s like some sort of..oh no!! TRAP!!! I fell for the oldest betting blunder of all time! I bet the Wolverines ahead of the only game that matters on their schedule every year: The Game. Yes, you know it’s a big game when it doesn’t even need a name. It is just The Game every year when Michigan and Ohio State renew pleasantries on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The Trap Game = when a high level team plays a team they can easily defeat but looks ahead to the following week’s game against a tougher opponent and/or rival. By the time I pulled myself out of the trap, Michigan was saving its’ undefeated season with a last second field goal and I was wondering how I could have missed that trap!!

Final Score: Michigan 19 Illinois 17 Spread Michigan -18: Loss

The lesson this week, be careful where you step, there are traps everywhere. Unless, of course, you step on that stupid kicker’s foot. Feel free to do so. 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

By Mark Ruelle

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Mark Ruelle

Mark has been a sports fanatic since childhood. He is also an avid follower of sports analytics and has used it in his own betting analysis for over two decades. Now we have Mark on our team here at Stat Salt. He holds degrees in marketing, broadcasting, and English and uses this vast array of assets to dissect and analyze game matchups. Mark will provide you with a wide variety of statistics to consider and a strong opinion in each matchup that he covers. Please follow him daily for an up-to-the-minute analysis of all the important games.