Abilene Christian University never stood a chance against the University of Virginia – unless we’re talking about sports betting.
This past weekend, the Virginia Cavaliers (4-4) scored a decisive win over its lone non-conference opponent of the year: the Wildcats of Abilene Christian (1-5).
Despite the final 55-15 score, however, Saturday’s ESPN3-streamed game had plenty of drama in the waning seconds.
Even if you live in Virginia, the highlights might’ve flown under the radar. But thankfully, due to his popular “Bad Beats” segment, ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt has shined a light on one of college football’s wildest (gambling-related) finishes of 2020.
“Oh, my God. What has just happened?” SVP explains during the too-ridiculous-to-believe ending. “What have I witnessed? …
“If you bet on Abilene Christian, you’re going straight to heaven!”
A Nail-biter for University of Virginia Bettors
Saturday’s NCAA Division I FBS slate featured 44 games (plus 18 largely COVID-related postponements and cancellations). Heading into those matchups, only one of them – BYU (-50) against North Alabama – had a wider point spread for the game.
Abilene Christian, an FCS program from the Southland Conference, has one winning season since 2013. Their only victory this year came over winless Mercer University (0-3).
So, perhaps, it’s easy to understand why Virginia opened as a 35.5-point favorite for the Nov. 21 game and why the line had climbed to 39.5 points by game time. And with wagering fairly split on the two teams, half of bettors were going to turn off the game disappointed.
But no one could have predicted the heartbreak that would meet Abilene Christian bettors at the game’s conclusion.
It was a true comedy of errors and poor decision-making.
Scott Van Pelt Sets the Scene
The Virginia vs. Abilene Christian game largely flew under the radar of the NCAAF Week 12 schedule. Marquee matchups – with much closer spreads – stole the college-football spotlight.
But then good ol’ “SVP” gave the UVA-ACU wild ending a second life with his “Bad Beats” segment on “SportsCenter.” And even by Van Pelt and “Bad Beats” standards, this one was a doozy.
First, let’s check out the video segment, which is just amazing theater:
- Abilene Christian, 39.5-point underdogs, gets a late score to cut the lead to five touchdowns and 36 points. So, why not party to the point of an excessive-celebration penalty?
- Surely, we’d then get an onside kick so Abilene Christian could try to further cut into the lead with 86 seconds to go? Right? “Hell no!” Van Pelt explains. “We’re covering! We’re good kicking it deep!” Virginia takes a knee at the 3-yard line.
- After one play, Virginia has a 2nd and 12, so with 42 seconds to go, the Cavs could just run down the clock. Instead, they inexplicably attempt a double pass out of the end zone.
- With the ensuing safety, Abilene Christian cuts the deficit to 49-15, and they’re again covering the spread. But, for some reason, the Wildcats decide to march down the field – and it’s working.
- Well, right up until the point Abilene Christian quarterback Peyton Mansell throws an interception that’s run back for an 84-yard touchdown for UVA.
- Game over. Virginia wins 55-15, covers as 39.5-point favorites by half a point, and ACU can only hang their heads in shame.
A Footnote That’s a Dagger to Bettors’ Hearts
It was an absolutely crushing finale for Abilene Christian backers.
However, then came a footnote via VirginiaSports.com from Cavaliers head coach Bronco Mendenhall. Somehow, the bad beat got even worse for those ACU bettors:
“[Offensive coordinator] Robert Anae was off a line [on his play chart]. He called in the wrong play at the end. We were trying to run out the clock and we end up getting a double pass called out of our own end zone. It’s a complete accident. … It shows you what being off one line can do, maybe in your life, but also in a football game, where you can go from running out the clock to a double pass.”
Although Virginia sports betting will be legal and operational by early 2021, betting on in-state colleges and universities will be banned.
Sure, that ban may be a bit short-sighted. But as we learned from the Cavaliers’ wild ride on Saturday, perhaps we’ll save ourselves from some stress by not betting on our favorite teams.