May 27, 2021

4 Worst Bad Beats of the 2020 College Football Season

Betting on college football in 2020 was a whirlwind. There have been plenty of circumstances where you think you have an edge, only to find out 20 minutes before kickoff that a dozen players on a team are unavailable because of COVID-19 protocols. That happened in quite a few games over the campaign, and there were other games that had brutally bad beats.

We dug back into the vault to find the worst bad beats of the season. These were last-second heart-breaking moments that cost us an excellent payday.

What were your bad beats? Make sure to comment with your nominations.

UCLA Bruins vs Oregon Ducks

UCLA, playing without starting quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, was a 17.5-point underdog to the Ducks but held a 21-17 lead late in the first half. The Bruins offense was on the field at its own 44-yard line with six seconds left in the half, and only an absolute disaster would cost you your first-half moneyline bet.

This would be that disaster. Chase Griffin stepped up in the pocket and was drilled as he tried to launch one to the end zone. The ball was intercepted by Jordan Happle, who returned it all the way for a touchdown, flipping a four-point UCLA lead to a 24-21 Oregon lead at the break.

UCLA’s first-half moneyline odds were +350 at BetMGM, meaning a $100 bet would net a $350 return. What would have been a big win for Bruins backers turned into a heartbreaking loss.

Cincinnati Bearcats vs UCF Knights

Cincinnati closed as four-point favorites at BetMGM and had the ball up 36-33 with a chance to close out the game. The Bearcats moved the ball all the way into the red zone. On first-and-goal from the 5-yard line with 1:43 remaining, Cincinnati running back Gerrid Doaks took a handoff and had a clear path to the end zone.

A touchdown would have put Cincinnati up by nine points — a two-possession advantage that would have covered the spread for Bearcats bettors, but Doaks curiously decided to go down at the 1-yard line.

Doaks falling short of the goal line caused UCF to use its final timeout with 1:34 remaining. It looked like Cincinnati would simply kneel from there and run the clock out. But the Bearcats ran the ball up the gut twice more with Doaks, who was stuffed for no gain.

On fourth down, a shotgun snap eluded quarterback Desmond Ridder, who was able to pounce on the ball with UCF defenders pursuing. Cincinnati avoided a disaster and won 36-33, but it was still an awful turn of events for bettors who had the Bearcats covering the spread.

UCLA Bruins vs USC Trojans

With a 3.5-point line in favor of the Trojans and a streak already established with USC completing late-game comebacks, the Bruins suffered a terrible beat in their latest rivalry matchup. The Trojans prevailed 43-38 thanks to a set of late-game scores. Try to follow along.The Trojans trailed by 18 early in the third quarter and battled back to down two in the final minute. But moments after Nicholas Barr-Mira’s 43-yard field goal gave UCLA the lead with 52 seconds remaining, it became USC’s time to shine. The final comeback began with a 56-yard kickoff return by Gary Bryant Jr., who was stunningly even given a chance to catch the kick. Common sense said for UCLA to simply limit the upside for USC could get on the kickoff.The next shot was a 35-yard pass from Kedon Slovis that Tyler Vaughns brought down between two defenders. The third and final of those shots was the eight-yard, eventual game-winning touchdown pass from Slovis to Amon-Ra St. Brown.On the other side, UCLA’s inexperience in these situations seemed to stifle its chances. The Bruins outgained the Trojans 549 yards to 444 but committed three turnovers that led to 15 points. It was a devastating bad beat for those with the Bruins and the points because of the unlikely scenario where USC could finish the comeback.

Toledo Rockets vs Western Michigan Broncos

Western Michigan trailed Toledo, 38-28, with 2:54 left. The Broncos scored to draw within four but Thiago Kapps missed the PAT with 45 seconds remaining. That meant Western Michigan still needed a touchdown instead of a field goal to force overtime.

Time for the onside kick. Kapps’ kick is recovered by punter Nick Mihalic. With the clock stopped momentarily for a first down with 20 seconds left, everything lined up for Lester, who had been awaiting this moment for decades. The final seconds started to tick as Western snapped the ball.

Broncos QB Kaleby Eleby fakes the spike at the Toledo nine and finds Jaylen Hall in the end zone, who was open by an entire county. The fake-spike worked as the Broncos stunned Toledo, 41-38, in the final seconds of MACtion that night. 

This had to be the mother of all bad beats. The betting line entering the game was Toledo getting 2.5 points. So, if you went to sleep up 38-28, you woke up to find out the Rockets lost by three points after the PAT. Ouch.

Photo: Getty Images