Betting recap: Tennessee losing helps sportsbooks; Patriots punt return helps bettors

Normally, we’d start this weekly roundup with a look at how the bookies and bettors did in the National Football League. And the Week 11 NFL odds market definitely had some interesting facts.

But the Week 12 college football odds market had an overblown Saturday that also shook up the College Football Playoff odds, so we have to start there.

Tennessee’s stunning demolition by unranked South Carolina led the way, so let’s dive into the weekend’s betting roundup.

Flight crash

Before Saturday’s Tennessee-South Carolina matchup, BetMGM and others were lamenting their position on the Vols.

“Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but we’re going to need Tennessee not to cover this week, and the Gamecocks are going to be our biggest need of the week,” BetMGM trader Seamus Magee said.

So when Tennessee not only failed to cover the huge 22.5-point spread, but got pummeled by big house dog South Carolina 63-38, it was a boon for the books. Most oddsmakers were just hoping the Gamecocks could cover the number, and winning outright was a pipe dream.

“We needed South Carolina to cover a decent result,” said Casey Degnon, senior risk supervisor at The SuperBook. “The Gamecocks winning straight up was the icing on the cake.”

Magee added, “There was a lot of money parlays in Tennessee.”

In those cases, all bettors needed was for the Vols to win the game, not cover the spread. Obviously, Tennessee did neither.

are you pulling my hair Playoffs?

In last week’s CFP rankings, Tennessee was No. 5, just one spot away from qualifying for the four-team playoff. But the bookies had Tennessee No. 4 on the championship odds board because the Vols had what appeared to be a nicer path to the playoff.

Sportsbooks were working on the assumption that Tennessee would get past South Carolina and Vanderbilt in their final two regular season games. So the Vols would be 11-1, and missing the SEC title game would be helpful, with no chance of a second loss. Meanwhile, second- and third-ranked Ohio State and Michigan State would take care of each other on Nov. 26, with the loser likely to fall out of the CFP and Tennessee to move in.

Tennessee probably saw it that way, too. But as they say, people make plans and God laughs. Well, God and Spencer Rattler. And the bookies, who laughed all the way to the bank, on several fronts, after South Carolina’s big win.

“The Vols were our worst [outcome] in the futures market,” said Jason Scott, vice president of trading at BetMGM.

Indeed. BetMGM and other books had a huge liability on the Vols winning the national championship. Tennessee could be held at 100-1 in the offseason, and there were plenty of entries early in the season that were, say, 60-1 or 40-1 as the Vols slowly climbed the ladder. All such responsibility is erased.

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Balance Sunday

OK, let’s go to the NFL. Several oddsmakers reported a very average Sunday. The bookies got some wins, the punters got some wins, with neither side having a great day.

Chris Andrews, director of sports betting at South Point in Las Vegas, said the Eagles-Colts result was a double whammy for his store.

“There were a lot of teasers and money plays about the Eagles, and they bet the Colts for the point spread. So that was bad,” Andrews said.

The Eagles scored a late touchdown to earn a 17-16 victory in Indianapolis. This made the money parlays on the Eagles win or keep alive, and also helped the teaser bets. Philly closed as a 6.5-point favorite, so a 6-point teaser would have the Eagles as half-point favorites; so the one point win kept those innings.

On the other hand, the Colts were covered as 6.5-point underdogs, and many bettors liked the Colts on Sunday.

BetMGM’s Scott put it pretty succinctly: “We didn’t need the Eagles’ comeback.”

According to senior oddsmaker Chris Youn, punters got the best of the battle at WynnBet.

“It hasn’t been a great day at the [risk] ” Youn said, noting the Lions’ modest upset of the Giants and Raiders’ overtime win in Denver, along with the wild Jets-Patriots finish.” another unfavorable decision.”

Marcus Jones returned a punt 84 yards for a touchdown in the waning seconds to give New England a 10-3 victory as a 3.5-point home favorite against New York.

Ahead of Sunday night’s game, Youn said: “We need the Chiefs to win and cover to save the day.”

Kansas City beat the Los Angeles Chargers 27-24 in some typical Patrick Mahomes heroics, scoring a TD in the final minute. But the Chiefs couldn’t cover as 5-point favorites.

Back to school

Back on the college campus, Tennessee’s upset loss was part of a larger trend for the nation’s top teams. The top five in the College Football Playoff rankings couldn’t cover the spread. The flights were the only ones to lose outright, but:

  • Georgia (-22) held on for a lackluster 16-6 win at Kentucky
  • Ohio State (-26) had its hands full with Maryland much of the way in a 43-30 win
  • Michigan (-17) survived against Illinois, winning 19-17 on a last-second field goal
  • TCU (-1.5) hit a fire drill field goal in the final seconds to beat Baylor 29-28

“It’s the end of the season, so there are preliminary places and [teams are] not really focused on who they’re playing,” WynnBet’s Youn said. “Also, the weather was definitely a factor in the Michigan and Georgia games.”

When the favorites don’t cover, it’s generally a good thing for the bookies.

“We had a good time [Saturday] but he didn’t make any big decisions in any individual match,” Youn said. “Just a few favorable results that added up to an overall winning day. Covering Baylor and the Under (58 total) was our best overall result. Pac-12 After Dark, with USC covering -2.5, was the limit of a positive day.”

The Trojans, whose CFP hopes improved significantly, won an offensive matchup against crosstown rival and host UCLA, 48-45.

I like high stakes and I can’t lie

There was a lot of #MajorWager activity at various sportsbooks this weekend. Caesars Sports reported a bunch of these bets. We’ll start with a college bettor who invested $1.1 million in five games:

  • $220,000 in Illinois +18 in Michigan (win)
  • $220,000 at Nevada +22.5 vs. Fresno State (loss)
  • $220,000 on Duke +7.5 on Pitt (win)
  • $220,000 to Syracuse +10 to Wake Forest (push)
  • $220,000 at New Mexico +14.5 vs. San Diego State (loss)

Add it all up and the bet lost $40,000.

Another bettor walked in with $575,000 on five NFL plays:

  • $100,000 Jeans +3 (pairs) vs. Commanders (loss)
  • $125,000 Chargers +7.5 (-125) vs. Chiefs (win)
  • $110,000 Steelers +5 vs. Bengals (loss)
  • $110,000 Steelers +4.5 vs. Bengals (loss)
  • $110,000 Bears +3 on Falcons (push)

So those five bets ultimately moved $220,000 into Caesars coffers.

Also in the NFL, a Caesars customer put a whopping $312,500 on the -7.5 Bills against the Lions for the neutral site game in Detroit. This bettor got quite a sweat, with Buffalo winning 31-23 to cover by half a point.

Clearly these are high roller types. So, as I always remember, never bet more than you can afford to lose. I lost #ChilisMoney on Colts moneyline, Baylor moneyline and a total in-game bet on Cowboys-Vikings Over 45.5. I guess I’ll have dinner this week.

Patrick Everson is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and a senior reporter for He is a distinguished journalist in the national sports betting space. He is based in Las Vegas, where he enjoys playing golf in 110-degree heat. Follow him on Twitter: @PatrickE_Vegas.

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