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Bettors bounce back with winning college football weekend

Not many Saturdays have gone the way of bettors this college football season, with a barrage of Top 25 upsets during the first half of the schedule.

But with most of the favorites avoiding that fate Saturday, the betting public enjoyed one of its best days of the season.

“The evening slate was great for the bettors with Alabama, Penn State, South Carolina and … (Texas Christian) all cashing,” Station Casinos sportsbook vice president Jason McCormick said via text message.

McCormick said his book “traded paint” with bettors in the morning games, as Duke won outright as a 10-point underdog against Miami and Southern Methodist rallied late to cover against Cincinnati. (More on that below.)

But bettors cashed on Ohio State’s 54-10 blowout over Iowa, and the Clemson-Syracuse game was a “well-bet balanced game,” McCormick said.

In the afternoon, UCLA was heavily bet on the spread and money line, McCormick said, and Oregon’s 45-30 win and cover (-6½) benefited the sportsbook, as did Louisiana State’s 45-20 thumping of Mississippi.

“Bettors did cash in on Oklahoma State’s outright win (over Texas) and Wake Forest,” McCormick said of the Demon Deacons, who blasted Boston College 43-15 to cover as 20-point favorites.

Bettors also had their moments against the Westgate SuperBook, which still had some big decisions remaining in Saturday’s late games.

“The afternoon games were rough,” SuperBook director John Murray said via text message.

Unlike Station, the SuperBook needed UCLA against Oregon and took a loss on that decision. According to Murray, the SuperBook also was rooting for Texas, which was a 6½- to 7-point favorite and led Oklahoma State 34-27 entering the fourth quarter before losing 41-34.

The SuperBook bounced back in the evening when Penn State blasted Minnesota 45-17 as a 5-point favorite.

“We did great on the Penn State game,” Murray said. “We wanted to be in a position to need that side.”

Bad beat

Cincinnati bettors had to feel good entering the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against SMU.

The Bearcats led 29-14 and were well on their way to covering as 3½-point favorites. According to the Action Network, Cincinnati had a 97 percent probability of covering with 9:20 remaining.

But SMU found the backdoor in a 29-27 loss, scoring two touchdowns in the final 5:09 to secure the cover.

After the Mustangs climbed within 29-21, Cincinnati was forced to punt, and SMU took over with 3:38 remaining. The Bearcats appeared to have a game-clinching interception, but a pass interference penalty wiped out the turnover.

Five plays later, SMU scored with 1:57 left to get the cover. Cincinnati money-line bettors then had to sweat out a two-point conversion that would have tied the game, but it was unsuccessful.

Dueling bombs

Hope was fading late in the fourth quarter for Southern Mississippi bettors, who needed divine intervention after the Eagles fell behind 14-13 to Texas State on a 74-yard touchdown pass with 1:21 remaining.

But Southern Miss, a 2½-point favorite, answered with a 53-yard catch and run by Chandler Pittman on fourth-and-4 with 32 seconds left to win 20-14 and cover.

The game stayed under the total of 43½.

Big bets

A bettor at Caesars Sportsbook in Nevada placed $1 million in wagers this weekend, the majority of which were on college football.

The largest of the seven college wagers was $120,000 on Arkansas State as a 7-point underdog, which didn’t cash when the Red Wolves lost 38-18 to Louisiana. West Virginia +6 for $110,000 also went down in flames with the Mountaineers taking a 48-10 beating from Texas Tech.

But the bettor did well on the remaining $110,000 bets, getting to the window with Syracuse (+14) and North Texas (+10) covering. Duke (+10) and Florida International (+14½) were outright winners.

The result of UNR (+7) was pending late Saturday, but the bettor was guaranteed at least a small profit from the college portion of the card.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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