After nailing two stunning college football upsets, a remarkable parlay wager came down to the biggest NFL favorite on the board Sunday, with a payout of nearly half a million dollars on the line.
At 9:58 a.m. Friday, a bettor at the William Hill sportsbook at the Venetian hotel and casino in Las Vegas placed a $4,000, seven-team money-line parlay. The odds of all seven teams winning outright were roughly 110-1.
The parlay included Maryland, a four-touchdown underdog, to beat Penn State straight up. The Terrapins knocked off the Nittany Lions 35-19 in one of the biggest upsets point-spread-wise in Big Ten history.
The bettor also picked Liberty, a 17-point underdog, to upend Virginia Tech. The Flames won 38-35 in dramatic fashion to remain unbeaten.
The bettor was more conservative with their other four college football picks, tabbing favorites Oklahoma, Ohio State, Appalachian State and Iowa State. Each team won to keep the parlay alive, and entering Sunday, all the bettor needed was for the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers to beat the struggling Dallas Cowboys.
The Steelers closed as 14-point favorites, one of the largest point spreads of the season, but they wouldn't make it easy on the bettor. Pittsburgh trailed 13-9 at halftime, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was back in the locker room being examined for a possible knee injury. Roethlisberger returned and rallied the Steelers from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to take the lead. Pittsburgh survived a pass from Cowboys' fourth-string quarterback Garrett Gilbert into the end zone on the final play to prevail 24-19.
It capped off the parlay, and the bettor won a net $438,643.40.
Here is this week's edition of Notable Bets, our weekly recap of sports betting stories around the nation and beyond.
• It was a second straight rough Sunday for the betting public, with heavily backed favorites like the Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans failing to cover the spread. "We're having a good day," Jeff Stoneback, director of BetMGM sportsbooks in Nevada, said Sunday afternoon. "Last week was our best [Sunday] of the year, and we're actually equal to that right now."
• Three best results for bettors at sportsbook PointsBet:
1. Ravens (+1) over Colts 24-10
2. Raiders (-1) over Chargers 31-26
3. Vikings (-3) over Lions 34-20
• "Our worst game had to be the Ravens," said John Murray, executive director of the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas. "The public hammered Baltimore, while our sharp guys pushed Indianapolis to the favorite. That round goes to the 'Joes.'"
• The over/under on the first half of the Steelers-Cowboys game was 21.5 at Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill. With Dallas leading 13-6 with two seconds left in the half, Pittsburgh kicker Chris Boswell missed a 54-yard field. However, prior to the snap, the Steelers were called for a false start, giving Boswell a second chance. He connected from 59 yards, a Pittsburgh franchise record, and pushed the game over the total in the first half.
• "We took a $220,000 bet on the Cardinals [-6] a little before kickoff," said Jeff Stoneback, sportsbook director for BetMGM sportsbooks in Nevada. The Cardinals lost 34-31 to the Miami Dolphins.
• The sportsbook at The Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey, reported big wins on the Dolphins and Cowboys. "There were a lot of people wearing Steelers jerseys in the sportsbook," Borgata sportsbook director Tom Gable told ESPN. "Luckily they had to be wearing masks or otherwise they would have been chewing their fingernails throughout that game. But in the end, not too many of them cashed with the way the game fell, eliminating all teasers at in the end."
• The home-underdog Buffalo Bills upset the Seahawks 44-34 in a game that produced the biggest win of the afternoon for the SuperBook. It would be eclipsed in prime time by the New Orleans Saints' 38-3 rout of the favored Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "We took a wave of late Bucs money," Murray said. "The Saints outright plus the under [50.5] was a huge winner and turned a so-so day into a good one. That ended up being our biggest win of the week."
• LSU opened as a 22-point home underdog to Alabama at Circa Sports. The Tigers haven't been this large of a home underdog since Oct. 26, 1991, vs. No. 1 Florida State.
• Other notable opening lines at Circa Sports:
Notre Dame (-14, 51.5) at Boston College
Ohio State (-27, 70.5) at Maryland
Wisconsin at Michigan (-3, 46.5)
• Maryland upset Penn State 35-19 as a 27.5-point underdog on Saturday. The Terrapins, who also beat Minnesota as 18-point underdogs last week, are the first team since 1978 to pull off an outright upset as an underdog of at least 17 points in consecutive weeks.
Maryland's win over Penn State was the third-largest upset in a Big Ten game since 1978.
• Updated odds to win the national championship via SuperBook:
Ohio State 3-2
Notre Dame 16-1
Texas A&M 30-1
The NBA is planning a 72-game regular season expected to start on Dec. 22, ESPN reported last week.
The SuperBook released season win totals on Saturday, with stipulations that teams must play at least 69 games and no more than 72. Some teams of note:
Players who have attracted the most money wagered to win the Masters, at William Hill sportsbooks:
1. Jon Rahm
2. Tiger Woods
3. Xander Schauffele
4. Rory McIlroy
5. Bryson DeChambeau
Three questions with ...
... Masters favorite Bryson DeChambeau
Q: How have you been preparing for the Masters?
A: There's been a lot of fun moments, new personal records, couple biomechanics things that have helped me figure out some repeatability things so we can be a little more consistent at these speeds. But mainly just training my body and getting it prepared as possible to be peaking at the right moment in time. I want to be hopefully averaging around 200 mph.
Q: If you were to build a predictive model for success at Augusta National, what statistical categories would you give the most weight?
A: I would say driving distance is a big key at Augusta. I would also say putting is the second-most important key. If you can drive it really well and putt it really well for the most part, you're going to have a great chance to win. Those are two key stats that I think, if you can be in the top five in those stats, I think you'll be up the leaderboard pretty easily.
From a strokes-gained perspective on putting, not every putt is valued the same. For example, if you have a 10-footer breaking 20 inches left to right, that's not the same as a 10-footer straight up the hill. That's where I look at putting, from a strokes-gained perspective but also from where was I? If my strokes-gained is negative, was I placing myself in proper positions to have the best opportunity to gain strokes in putting? So then I go to my ball-striking, [to see] if was leaving myself in bad places.
Q: If you were to set an over/under on your longest drive in the fairway at the Masters, what would you make the number?
A: I'd probably say, if the fairways are firm and running like I know they could be, I could easily say 400 [yards] would be the number.
Odds and ends
• Last week, voters in Louisiana, Maryland and South Dakota approved ballot measures that put the states closer to regulated sports betting. Legal sportsbooks are operating in 19 states and the District of Columbia. By 2022, more than half the states in the U.S. are expected to have regulated sports betting markets.
• While legislation that would authorize single-game sports betting nationally in Canada is inching forward, the province of Ontario last week announced legislation that would create an online gaming market, including sports betting.
"We fully support this action by the provincial government that moves us a significant step closer towards safe and regulated sports betting in Ontario," John Levy, founder and CEO of sportsbook operator and media company theScore, said in a statement.