Clemson's late filed goal insured a cover for the Terriers
Even I had to hit upon Google for supplementary info on Wofford University before their memorable game against the Clemson Tigers last week. Or maybe it’s Wofford College? One of the main reasons I had to tap Google. All I know is they were +47 at kickoff time as a consensus underdog from the list of preferred sportsbooks.
For those of you who are curious to know, Wofford College is a private, independent liberal arts college founded in 1854 that is located in downtown Spartanburg, South Carolina. In 2010, Forbes ranked it 58th on Forbes List of America's 650 Best Colleges. Certainly, they’d be a -47 academic FAVORITE over Clemson, but athletically a convenient bus ride away for a very grateful paycheck and automatic win for the Tigers. Or was it?
Clemson learned a very valuable lesson last Saturday that voters may have been paying attention to a mysterious factor in their thinking that went overlooked at halftime. Here's what happened . . .
For Betting Purposes Only
In what was categorized as an extra game or write-in game, Clemson initially opened as a -45 favorite at BetOnline, Bovada, 5Dimes and most of the other top sportsbooks. Obviously receiving no Wofford Terrier action, the line quickly jettisoned to -47 to -48 by kickoff most everywhere.
Subsequently, most naive and square action was looking genius-like as Clemson rolled to an easy 42-0 lead at halftime with QB Trevor Lawrence seemingly putting in a late bid for a Heisman shot. There was no reason to believe that the Tigers couldn't find a way to win by 20+ in the second half over a college, not a Division I university. Guess again, sports fans, poll voters and bettors.
It only took five minutes into the third quarter for Lawrence to throw his fourth TD pass and a 49-0 lead. Uh oh.
Reminded that as many as a hundred players suit-up on the sidelines for college football games, bettors also learned a lesson why NOT to play games to either give or receive 47 points. With several new Clemson players getting their first season action, Wofford immediately scored their first TD to close within 49-7. After exchanging scores, the third quarter ended 56-14 when the real fun started. While an entire nation was asleep, anyone left who had a wager on this game was seriously biting their nails, not knowing what to think or what was going to happen next.
It’s Good!! Or is it Bad?
Here’s where the NFL game and college football are also completely different. In the pros it would be unheard of to attempt field goals up 42 points in the fourth quarter as a matter of courtesy and protocol. That type of behavior gets remembered and often results in cheap shot tackles at some later juncture.
Yet, Clemson kicker B.T. Potter still missed a chip-shot 35-yarder wide right to start the 4th quarter, much to the delight of Wofford fans and bettors as well.
Incredibly, coach Dabo Swinney gave Potter another opportunity to beyond anger anyone who wagered on Clemson by letting his kicker trot on to the field for another 35 yard field goal attempt with only 5:12 left in the game. It’s good!! That now made the score 59-14 and all but ensured Wofford backers they had just covered their bet.
Perhaps it was to provide Potter some necessary practice and confidence going into more important future games. Or Dabo thought Wofford could put together six touchdowns in the last five minutes. No clue here. But did Coach Swinney realize that not only was he trashing sportsmanship, but maybe big-time poll voters were watching. And who knows . . . betting a few bucks? A big, big Hmmm.
The High Cost of Integrity
A lot has been made lately over mandating the U.S. does not experience the most minor wagering scandal or controversy. Better software programs have been invented. High-level watchdog committees have been formed to keep the leagues notified every second of any suspicious betting activity or unusual pattern. The reversal of PASPA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) in May 2018 began a new era for paranoia in the U.S.
This is not to suggest Clemson in any way attempted to do anything intentional or wrong to alter the wagering line in any way. However, it surely does put a spotlight on a "write-in" game that might not have existed a few years ago.
Meaning, besides irate Clemson bettors, who was paying attention? Now we have betting lines flashing across our television screens every thirty seconds on two dozen channels. Now we have tons of publicity toward NCAA poll position toward updating playoff implication.
Listening to several disturbed sports analysts debate Clemson’s fate, their overall explanation for their current 9-0 snub is their strength of schedule. And yes, the Tigers have included more cupcakes than Hostess, Georgia Tech, Charlotte, Wofford and even fast fading Florida State included. Their only opportunity to land in the fourth spot may be if one of the teams ahead of them severely trip-up. Left on their schedule are NC State, Wake Forest and South Carolina. None are guaranteed wins but hardly the LSUs or Alabamas necessary to validate their position.
Lessons to be Learned
If you are an NCAA College Football powerhouse playing one of these cupcakes and in position to pile up the points, do it. Somebody is watching. And now more than ever BETTING.
More important for the smart bettor. At all costs, avoid wagering on these types of games. With so many other preferable options, why wait three and half hours to see if you're going to cover a 47 or 48 point line? There must be better and less frustrating ways to invest your leisure time.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, including previews and picks from Glenn, click here.