Bettors had no luck with the Irish on Saturday night but lucked out with the Patriots on Sunday in the two biggest decisions of the four-day Thanksgiving weekend at Las Vegas sports books.
Notre Dame closed as a 14-point favorite over Southern California amid an avalanche of money on it after the line opened as low as 9.
After trailing 10-0 early, the Fighting Irish fought back and gave their backers what appeared to be an unlikely cover when Tony Jones Jr. turned a short pass on third-and-5 into a 51-yard touchdown for a 24-10 lead with 3:09 left.
But the euphoria didn’t last long for Notre Dame bettors, as the Trojans promptly drove down the field for the dreaded backdoor cover. After JT Daniels threw two incompletions from the Irish 20, the true freshman found Tyler Vaughns for a 20-yard TD that made it 24-17 with 48 seconds left.
The otherwise meaningless score caused more than $2 million in wagers on Notre Dame to swing from bettors to the books. William Hill sports book alone had a seven-figure swing in its favor. MGM Resorts sports book reported a very high six-figure swing, and CG Technology sports book a $500,000 swing. Caesars Entertainment and Station Casinos sports books also won big on what was the most heavily bet college football game of the season.
“We were Trojans fans, no question about it,” Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito said. “It was so loud in the book when Notre Dame scored. But after Southern Cal went down and scored, you could hear a pin drop.”
Duffel Bag Bettor burned
The finish resulted in a swing of more than $550,000 for the Duffel Bag Bettor at MGM Resorts, where he needed the Irish to close a $50,000 three-team parlay, a $10,000 four-teamer and a $50,000 straight bet.
A CG Technology bettor also lost a $100,000 straight wager on Notre Dame.
“If USC had not scored that touchdown, that probably would’ve been our biggest loss of the year,” The Mirage sports book director Jeff Stoneback said.
Patriots top SuperContest pick
New England, which was the No. 1 consensus pick in the Westgate SuperContest, closed as a 12½-point favorite over the Jets after the line opened at 7½. The biggest liability Sunday for most books, the Patriots trailed 7-0 early at New York before going ahead 27-13 midway through the fourth quarter.
It was deja vu all over again for Irish bettors who also had the Pats, as the Jets drove to the New England 4 with two minutes left. But Patriots backers escaped the pain of being burned by a backdoor cover when Josh McCown threw an incompletion on fourth-and-2.
“On a normal Sunday, that would’ve been a much worse game for us,” Stoneback said. “But it was, by far, the quietest Sunday we’ve had all season. Everybody’s kind of footballed out.”
The SuperContest consensus top five went 2-3 — with another winner on the Giants and losers on the Steelers, Packers and Panthers — to fall to 32-28 on the season.
Mixed bag for bettors
Double-digit favorites went 3-0 ATS as the Chargers crushed the Cardinals 45-10 as 14-point favorites and the Ravens whipped the Raiders 34-17 as 13-point favorites.
But Sunday was a mixed bag for bettors, as underdogs went 5-5 ATS with three outright upsets by the Bills, Seahawks and Broncos.
Denver held off the Steelers 24-17 when Ben Roethlisberger threw an interception in the end zone from the 2 with 1:07 left.
“The Broncos saved us from a beating,” William Hill sports book director Nick Bogdanovich said.
Sharps back Browns
Sharp bettors lived up to their name by backing the Browns in a big way over the Bengals in a game that closed at pick after Cleveland opened as a 3-point underdog. Baker Mayfield threw four TD passes as the Browns rolled to a 35-20 win to snap a 25-game road losing streak.
Cleveland closed as a 1½-point favorite at MGM Resorts, which took two wagers close to six figures each on the Browns.
“That was the worst game for us,” Stoneback said. “I don’t remember the last time the Browns went off as road favorites.”
MGM loses on Tiger
MGM also took a six-figure hit on Phil Mickelson’s win over Tiger Woods in Friday’s match at Shadow Creek Golf Club. It took two wagers close to six figures apiece on Mickelson at plus 180 and plus 165. Woods closed as a minus 150 favorite after the line was minus 210 on Thursday.
“The day of the match was nothing but money on Phil,” Stoneback said.