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Howard’s shocking upset of UNLV makes point-spread history

Updated September 3, 2017 - 4:40 pm

On the day after the 10-year anniversary of Appalachian State’s stunning upset of Michigan, Howard pulled off what is believed to be the biggest point-spread upset in college football history when it beat UNLV as a 45-point underdog.

The Bison’s shocking 43-40 win over the Rebels on Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium is believed to be the first upset ever by a team getting at least 40 points. Stanford owned the previous biggest point-spread upset after beating Southern California 24-23 in 2007 as 39-point ‘dogs.

“It’s got to be the all-time record,” William Hill sports book director Nick Bogdanovich said. “It’s sickening that we’ve got to be the one to make the history. It’s hard to believe we can’t win as a 45-point favorite.”

FCS member Howard, led by 330 total yards of offense and three touchdowns from freshman quarterback Caylin Newton — younger brother of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton — recorded its historic upset about two hours after fellow FCS school Liberty stunned Baylor 48-45 as a 35-point ‘dog.

“It just goes to show you that anything can happen,” Bogdanovich said.

UNLV plays at Idaho on Saturday. The Golden Nugget opened the Rebels as a 2½-point favorite over the Vandals in June, but Bogdanovich said UNLV will be a 5½-point underdog following Saturday’s debacle.

“Early in the year, we’re making major adjustments,” he said.

Las Vegas sports books posted a line on the Rebels game against Howard on Saturday morning as part of its “added games” involving FCS teams, which have smaller limits than FBS matchups.

The game didn’t generate much action and there wasn’t a money line offered, meaning Howard bettors had to settle for winning $10 for every $11 wagered. But Bogdanovich and Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito estimated the money line would’ve been in the 700-1 range or higher — meaning a $10 wager would’ve paid $7,000.

“No one in the free world had the money line on it,” Bogdanovich said. “No one books money lines on games with 40-point spreads.”

Bogdanovich said a 25- or 26-point ‘dog typically pays 100-1 on the money line. Westgate sports book manager Ed Salmons said his shop stops offering money lines when the spread hits about 21 points, which is generally a 25-1 long shot.

Since 2005, there have been 254 games featuring point spreads of at least 40 points, according to sports betting database BetLabSports.com (via ESPN). Before Saturday, 40-point-plus favorites were 253-0 straight up.

On Sept. 1, 2007, Bogdanovich recalls Michigan was favored by “28 to 30” points over Appalachian State, which upset the then-No. 5 Wolverines 34-32 to become the second FCS team to beat a ranked FBS team.

On a Saturday when most Top-25 favorites covered, Maryland (plus-800 on the money line) upset Texas and California (plus-400) upset North Carolina.

“I wish I had a money-line ticket on Howard, Liberty, California and Maryland,” Esposito said Sunday. “I would’ve called in sick.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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Las Vegas handicapper Bruce Marshall is an analyst at VegasInsider.com. Each week, he provides the Review-Journal with NFL tech notes and trends.