In the 1998 film Rounders, Matt Damon’s character preaches a precise passage relating to the epitome of poker playing.
"Few players recall big pots they have won, strange as it seems, but every player with remarkable accuracy can remember the outstanding tough beats of his career."
Unfortunately for sports bettors, the difference remains few and far between.
There’s a plausible explanation for why those who dabble in sports wagering would elect for defeat upon mere introduction of the game, rather than to ultimately endure a double-cross in the waning moments.
These are what bettors like to tag as "bad beats:" games that resemble the qualities of a sure win, only to watch their once-winning tickets ignite into sheer ashes.
The symptoms? Well, auditioning for the lead role in a Tums commercial would appear fitting.
So while we brace for the countless treachery of college football, we revisit some of the worst in recent history, along with the noteworthy reactions that sum up the cynicism of sports betting.
Central Michigan Versus Western Michigan, Bahamas Bowl (2014)
Line: Western Kentucky -2.5
Those that gripped onto Western Kentucky tickets perhaps began their Christmas Eve festivities with both a healthy supply of egg nog and ear-to-ear grinning, but those that yearned for an early holiday trinket would send Santa Claus right back up the chimney and directly into the homes of Central Michigan backers.
Marked a 2.5-point favorite, the Hilltoppers would stretch their lead to 49-14 late in the third on an Anthony Wales touchdown. As the final quarter approached and the Chippewas without an answer, the game appeared wrapped in Christmas embroidery for Western Kentucky bettors.
That is until all hell broke loose, the box score mimicking a spine-chilling nightmare.
4th quarter, 11:37- CMU TD, Titus Davis
4th quarter, 8:03- CMU TD, Titus Davis
4th quarter, 3:06- CMU TD, Courtney Williams
4th quarter, 1:09- CMU TD, Anthony Garland
4th quarter, 0:00- CMU TD, Titus Davis
4th quarter, 0:00- CMU Failed 2-pt conversion
Final Score: Western Kentucky 49 Central Michigan 48
Potentially one of the most masterful postseason games in all of college football—right up there with Boise State and Oklahoma in 2007—the Chippewas would manage to cross the pylon on five occasions in under twelve minutes, complete a Hail Mary with not a second on the clock, fail to convert a two-point conversion that would have tagged them victors, and ultimately lacerate Hilltopper bettors circa Mortal Kombat finisher.
My condolences to everyone who had Western Kentucky giving the 2.5— Jim Jividen (@JimJividen) December 24, 2014
Anyone else bet Western Kentucky -2.5? Worst beat in the history of sports, 35 unanswered 4Q points including a no time left hailmary— HYPE GOTTI (@hypegotti) December 24, 2014
Western Kentucky -2.5 in the Bahamas Bowl. Have mercy.— Zach Barlage (@ZachBarlage9) December 24, 2014
My condolences to anyone who had Western Kentucky -2.5. One of the biggest mooses of all time. You should all get refunds.— Brad Everett (@BREAL412) December 24, 2014
Ohio State at Northwestern, Week 6 (2013)
Line: Ohio State -6.5
The Big Ten main event would serve as College GameDay’s game of the week, as purple towels waved amid the Evanston air, Northwestern’s mindset fully fixated on capsizing Ohio State.
A Cameron Dickerson touchdown for the Wildcats with 9:10 remaining, and Pat Fitzgerald’s upset over Urban Meyer appeared fast-approaching, as the home club would lead 30-27. Ezekiel Elliott would respond with a score of his own, lending the ball back to Northwestern for one final opportunity. Anyone with a Wildcat ticket desired as little chaos as possible, but instead endured an emotional wound that would send a flurry of emotions within sportsbook confines.
Northwestern signal caller Kain Colter, backed up in his own territory, would dial up a hook-and-ladder, only to watch one of his wide receivers flip the ball backwards into the endzone; a mad scramble for an exclamation point, Ohio State’s Joey Bosa would recover the fumble with no ticks remaining, and the Buckeyes—and those backing them—would reign victorious.
Final score: Ohio State 40 Northwestern 30
Brent Musberger dually noted the series of unfortunate events for the smart guys, humming such words as "and you know what, there are some people in Las Vegas that are not happy right now." One Nevada sportsbook would hand over somewhere in the 3-4 million dollar range, and that’s equivalent to being hit by three consecutive red shells in Mario Kart 64.
@DGBigTime Did you see how Ohio State covered against northwestern Saturday night? Worst backdoor cover ever. Musberger laughed on air.— CBow (@CBow860) October 7, 2013
Brent Musberger must have been spending a lotta time at the country club to be all over noticing the backdoor cover by Ohio State -6.5 at NW— Jonathan Tamayo (@driverseati) October 6, 2013
In all seriousness, that backdoor cover by Ohio State is the #1 reason why I don't bet on sports. ESPECIALLY college sports.— Ricky Dreamboat (@fergoe) October 6, 2013
Holy back door cover by Ohio State. Most ridiculous bad beat I think I've ever seen #OSUvsNU— Kevin McLaughlin (@Kev_McLaughlin) October 6, 2013
Duke Versus Cincinnati, Belk Bowl (2012)
Line: Cincinnati -9
A brilliant montage of momentum swings in the 2012 Belk Bowl between Cincinnati and Duke, both teams watching spacious leads evaporate into the cool, night air. David Cutcliffe’s Blue Devils would flare through the floodgates with the initial 16 points, but that lead would go for naught, as Cincy would collectively respond with 27 of its own tallies to regain a comfortable 11-point lead late in the third quarter.
Fast forward to quarter number four, and Duke would ultimately even the score at 34, just 7:24 left up on the clock. Those embroidered in black and red sought two scores in the final batch of minutes; those cloaked in J.J. Reddick alternate jerseys just thirsted for time to forge ahead.
For the latter, moneybags appeared within their retinas once Duke controlled the ball with under a minute remaining, the score still knotted at 34. Even the Blue Devils and their patrons desired no reason to show panic once the ball was jarred loose with 53 seconds remaining, the Bearcats hopping in the driver’s seat with a chance to perhaps scamper into field goal range.
Upon the first snap, quarterback Brendon Kay found tight end Travis Kelce on a skinny post, who split both defensive backs en route to a 83-yard touchdown score. And just like that, Blue Devil handkerchiefs hung from sobbing eyes.
Cincinnati’s Nick Temple would return a 55-yard interception with just 13 seconds remaining, and the Blue Devils would pry a machete-like knife from the backs of those that waited in a single-file line to back them.
Final Score: Cincinnati 48 Duke 34
Ooooooooo, anyone that bet Duke +10 was just screaming at their televisions to JUST GO DOWN! Backdoor cover blues! #Belkbowl— BeyondUSports (@BeyondUSports) December 28, 2012
Wow that is as brutal a backdoor cover as I've ever seen in the Belk Bowl. If you had Cinci, pure jubilance! If you had Duke = Misery!— John Jastremski (@john_jastremski) December 28, 2012
Most should have perceived Duke as solid as a diamond in an ice storm once Cutcliffe and Co. stormed off to a 16-0 lead, but if you thought fans grew weary when that was dismantled like a Jenga! Set, then imagine the acid reflux of watching a team blow a 9-point spread in just 53 ticks. It’s eerily similar to opening up a pink Starburst, only to find a yellow square buried inside the treacherous paper wrapping.