Six worst 'bad beats' of the 2016-17 CFB season

Rob Nelson
ESPN Staff Writer

With Alabama falling 35-31 to Clemson in the title game, the 2016-17 college football season is officially over. But that doesn't mean there weren't plenty of times (including Monday night) that bettors were sweating out games until the final whistle. Some went their way; some didn't. You probably remember these from that sinking feeling afterwards if you were on the wrong side.
Yes, it's the worst bad beats of the 2016 college football season.

Sept. 24

Stanford Cardinal at UCLA Bruins
Closing line: Stanford -3
It's been more than three months since this game, but those who had UCLA still might not have gotten over how it ended. Whether you got the Bruins at +3 or +3.5, the final play of this game will never be forgotten.
UCLA led from the 18-second mark in the first quarter until less than 30 seconds left, when Stanford's Ryan Burns hooked up with JJ Arcega-Whiteside for a go-ahead 8-yard touchdown to make it 16-13. It marked the first touchdown of the game for the Cardinal. At this point, with 24 seconds left, UCLA backers who had +3 were looking at a push, and those who had +3.5 were in great shape. But on the final snap of the game -- a play after Kenneth Walker III almost hauled in a deep pass that would have put the Bruins in field goal range -- Josh Rosen was strip-sacked by Joey Alfieri. The ball seemingly bounced right into the gut of Stanford's Solomon Thomas, who returned the fumble 42 yards for a touchdown.
This was the eighth time the Cardinal covered during their current run of nine straight outright wins over the Bruins.
Final score: Stanford 22, UCLA 13 (Stanford covers)

Oct. 8

Bowling Green Falcons at Ohio Bobcats
Closing line: Ohio -12
Those who had action on this game were likely disappointed -- an overwhelming 81 percent of the action was on Ohio to cover the 12-point spread. It's safe to say that every bettor who took the Bobcats will never forget an improbable fourth-down play by Bowling Green.
Ohio led 30-10 late in third quarter before Bowling Green's Teo Redding caught a 13-yard touchdown from James Morgan to cut the deficit to 13. That score held until less than two minutes left in the game. Bowling Green faced a fourth-and-27 from the Ohio 37-yard line. A stop, and those on the Bobcats could cash their tickets. But those tickets would be ripped up, as Scott Miller caught a Hail Mary pass that deflected off a group of players in the end zone, and he scored for the Falcons. A meaningless TD? Hardly.
Final score: Ohio 30, Bowling Green 24 (Bowling Green covers)

Oct. 15

Central Michigan Chippewas at Northern Illinois Huskies
Closing line: Over/under 61
Of all the college football games to go over the total in overtime this past season, this one stood out as the worst bad beat if you had the under.
This game ended up going over by one point after Central Michigan and Northern Illinois played three overtime periods. And while the Chippewas ended up winning, the 58 percent of bettors who took the under aren't big fans of their kicker, Brian Eavey. Why? Eavey had two opportunities to end the game (and clinch the under) with field goal attempts at the end of regulation and the first overtime. Both attempts were within 35 yards, and both missed. With Central Michigan once again needing just a field goal to win it, Cooper Rush had other plans, hooking up with Tyler Conklin for a game-winning 25-yard touchdown.
Final score: Central Michigan 34, Northern Illinois 28 in 3OT (game goes over)

Nov. 5

Texas Longhorns at Texas Tech Red Raiders
Closing line: O/U 86
Believe it or not, there was a Texas Tech game this past season that featured a long scoring drought.
Our historical data goes back to the 1970s, and this was the highest over/under we've ever seen in a Texas game. Even with the total so high, 72 percent of the action was on the over. After all, the previous game played in Lubbock two weeks earlier ended up breaking all kinds of records in a 66-59 Oklahoma win over Texas Tech.
As expected, the two teams lit up the scoreboard and with 10:50 left, Texas led 45-37. One more touchdown and this historic total would go over. But then the unthinkable happened: three straight possessions ending in punts. That was followed by each team turning it over on downs, and all of a sudden it came down to one last Texas Tech drive. The Red Raiders drove it down to the Texas 20-yard line, but Patrick Mahomes was picked off by Kris Boyd with nine seconds left. If you took the over, it still must be hard to fathom how a game that had 82 combined points ended with a 10:50 scoring drought.
Final score: Texas 45, Texas Tech 37 (game goes under)

Nov. 12

Kentucky Wildcats at Tennessee Volunteers
Closing line: Tennessee -14
This game featured 1,234 yards and 85 points, including 34 in the fourth quarter alone. It was the final 14 points with an onside kick in between that made Tennessee -14 one of the worst bad beats of the season.
With 7:12 left in the game, Tennessee led 49-22. At that point, the 48 percent of bettors who took the home favorites had a 13-point cushion. That score stood until Kentucky's Sihiem King scored a touchdown with less than four minutes left to cut Tennessee's lead down to 20. The Wildcats would then recover the ensuing onside kick and eight plays later, Stephen Johnson scored Kentucky's second touchdown in a 2:17 span. Austin MacGinnis' extra point made the score, 49-36 Tennessee, and those who took the Vols lost by one point.
Final score: Tennessee 49, Kentucky 36 (Kentucky covers)

Dec. 29

Arkansas Razorbacks vs Virginia Tech Hokies
Closing line: Virginia Tech -7.5

One bowl game made our list, and it was certainly worthy. Arkansas led 24-0 at halftime and you couldn't have felt better if you had the underdogs at +7.5. In 124 years of Virginia Tech football, it had never come back to win a game after trailing by 24.
But it all went downhill in the second half for the Razorbacks, who allowed the Hokies to score 35 unanswered points and win by 11. Of Arkansas' eight possessions after halftime, four ended in punts and four ended in turnovers. Another stat to make those who bet on Arkansas lose their minds: Teams were 0-197 in the 2016 season when trailing by 24 in the third quarter before this game. So not only did the Razorbacks lose the game, but they also somehow failed to cover.

Final score: Virginia Tech 35, Arkansas 24 (Virginia Tech covers)