Holy crap. USC-Utah just ended, and in my two years of picking games I’ve never gone through so many different emotions in such a short amount of time. Here’s the story of what just happened.
First of all, SC was favored at home by 6.5 points. I picked Utah to cover.
USC leads 17-14. With twenty seconds and no timeouts left, Utah has a fourth down in USC territory. Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn completes a pass to Devonte Christopher for what looks like a first down. Christopher catches it, leans over the first down line then gets pushed backwards. The official gives him an absolutely atrocious spot, so bad that the announcers openly call him out on it. We see the play on replay and it’s clear that the official spotted the ball about a yard and a half short. The linesmen bring out the chains, measure it, and the Utes look to be about four inches short.
USC lines up in victory formation, is literally on the verge of snapping the ball when we get a whistle. The spot is under review. Sure enough, the booth gets the call right and Utah has a first down.
Now here’s the thing. If USC had gotten the kneel down in, I’m happy. SC wins by 3, Utah covers, and I win. Now, if Utah gets a touchdown here I’m still happy, because obviously, they’re still covering with a three point win. However, let’s say Utah kicks a field goal. The game’s tied and goes to overtime. There’s a damn good chance that SC scores a touchdown and an extra point and ends up covering by a half point. So at this point, I’m rooting for one of two things: Utah touchdown. USC stop. Just not a Utah field goal.
Next play, Utah gets a pass interference call, which gives them a first down and puts them in field goal range. There’s eleven seconds left. On comes the field goal kicker. Fuck. Best case scenario right now is either a miss or a block. Just don’t let Utah make the field goal.
The ball’s snapped, the kick is up- wait no it’s not! It’s blocked! Oh yes! It’s blocked! USC holds! Utah covers! And all is well with the world!
Wait! What the fuck?! USC has picked up the blocked ball and they’re running it back! No! Stop it! Lay down on the one and run the clock out! Please! Nooooo!!!!!! USC scores a touchdown and covers with a nine point win.
Wait a minute. There’s a flag down around the USC 40. It’s an unsportmanlike conduct penalty because half of the USC bench ran onto the field. And because of a new rule this year, an unsportmanlike conduct penalty during a scoring play results in the points being taken off the board, which means…USC doesn’t score a touchdown! USC wins by 3! Utah covers! I win! I win! God, gambling makes everything better.
Update: Two hours after I posted this story, PAC-12 officials awarded the touchdown to USC, giving them the win and the cover. According to Darren Rovell, sportsbooks are split as to award based on the original score, seeing as how many already paid out for the Utah win. So like I said, gambling:it’s fun for everyone. Or no one, depending on your outlook.