The One(s) that got Away
The One(s) that got Away
With just one game on the slate this week, we will likely turn our attention to the NFL next week. Before we do, let’s take a deep dive into the ones that got away during Conference Championship weekend. This week, let’s take a deeper dive into surefire wins that might have been coached away and getting burned by the enticement of the large line.
Case #1: #3 TCU (12-0) vs. #10 Kansas State (9-3) Betting Line: TCU -1.5
It has truly been a fairy tale season for head coach Sonny Dykes and the TCU Horned Frogs. In just his first season after moving over from SMU, Dykes guided TCU to 12 straight wins and a spot in the BIG 12 title game and a possible spot in the college football playoffs. The Horned Frogs played relentlessly, with guts and pulled out more than their share of games in the closing minutes- including earlier in the season against Kansas State. With a line of -1.5, of course, we were going to ride that wave.
One thing about fairy tales that come to real life, sometimes the glass slipper just doesn’t fit. Or at the very least, human decisions can kick Cinderella right in her backside. On Saturday, it looked like we were in for one more fairy tale ride complete with a deserving hero that displayed grit and determination. Alas, someone forgot to tell the offensive coordinator.
TCU quarterback Max Duggan appeared to be the hero in waiting as he took the Horned Frogs on his back in the game’s final quarter. Down 28-20, he nearly ran all 80 yards on three dynamic runs during a 2-minute drive that ended with a Duggan 8-yard run. Need the two points to tie, no problem. Duggan found his tight end in the end zone and was literally helped off the field, exhausted, with the game knotted at 28. When TCU held Kansas State on their final drive, it felt like a formality for the hero to ride off into the sunset with another thrilling come-from-behind win.
Again, someone forgot to tell the TCU offensive coordinator and head coach Dykes that the script was already written and they simply needed to follow instructions. TCU took the ball first and got all the way to the one-yard line. In fact, Duggan nearly scored but was ruled down by a forearm at the half-yard line. He’d run for 115 yards, thrown for 251 yards and probably arranged for the bus to pick the team up after the game and now, wasn’t it obvious? Let him sneak it in. 2nd down, give to the RB…stuffed. Ok, perhaps Duggan was tired, now it is the hero’s turn. Third down…RB stuffed. Ok, ok, that was cute, it will add to the value of the eventual movie if he runs it in on fourth down. Here he comes, just give it to him. No need to be clever, he’s nearly carried this team on his…RB stuffed on fourth down!! What in the?! Opportunity squandered, K-State moves ten yards on their possession and kickass the game-winning field goal. You can analyze, overthink and try to outsmart everyone to prove your genius or…you can give it to the hero and tell the story that was meant to be told.
Final Score: Kansas State 31 TCU 28 Spread -1.5: Loss
Case #2: #14 LSU (9-3) @ #1 Georgia (12-0) Betting Line: Georgia -17.5
Here’s a reminder to all you people that love to chase points; sometimes the line is the line because there is truly a talent disparity and all those points are just window dressing. Georgia came into this matchup undefeated, with arguably the best defense in the country once again and with memories of losing handily to Alabama in last year’s SEC title game. On the other side, LSU was coming off a disheartening loss to Texas A&M and with a banged up starting quarterback that was the lifeblood of the team’s second half surge. Yeah but those 17.5 points.
Sometimes, the early stages of a game tell you all that you need to know. First possession, the Tigers drive down the field and get in the red zone. Suddenly, I’m nearly smug about it: +17.5 points and an opening touchdown?! Those idiot oddsmakers! Wait a second, the Bulldogs stiffen. Field goal try. Ok, 20.5 point cushion wouldn’t be bad…BLOCKED!! Ugh, wait, what is insult doing here and why does he want to join forces with injury? LSU players stand around sulking and a Georgia player picks up the still spinning football and races 96 yards for a touchdown. Listen closely and you can still hear my groan bouncing tauntingly off of my living room walls.
LSU would march down and tie it with a score but something just told me, in that one blocked punt with a scoop and score from Georgia, that this game was already decided. The game’s next four touchdowns went to Georgia. With each ensuing touchdown, LSU’s quarterback seemed to limp just a little bit more. By halftime, it was 35-10 and those 17.5 points seemed like a pick-em game. The rest of the scoring was window dressing. I knew I had been duped by the allure of getting points. Hmm, perhaps those oddsmakers know a little something.
Final Score: Georgia 50 LSU 30 Spread Georgia -17.5: Loss
The lessons we learned this week: Don’t arbitrarily chase points and, you know what, coaches can be stupid at times too. 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