Sunday November 16, 2008 7:25 am
It’s Why They Call It Gambling
Who knows what the day will bring? All of us will make decisions based on inferences, guesses, statistical analysis, or just plain emotional fandom. Games will be played, and we will either be right, or we will be wrong. Occasionally, we will push. Some people propose that some decisions are forgone conclusions. Today for example you will be hard pressed to find someone believing that the Panthers won’t beat the Lions. As plays are run, balls are fumbled, and touchdowns are scored we get closer to the truth.
The truth being what the actual outcome of a game, or a cover, or the point total will be. It goes without saying that the closer to the end, or the more visible the truth becomes, the more accurate we will be in predicting what will end as the truth. That is why the bookie makes you get your wager in before the game starts. Though, there are services out there that enable you to make wagers on an outcome as the game goes on.
During the course of any game there are twists and turns that either put the outcome closer to our prediction or further away from our prediction. Many of us lose sight of a play in the 1st quarter that could have put points on the board, like a missed field goal; or plays that could have taken points off the board, like a dropped interception where the next play resulted in points for the offense. But then there are times when the plays happen in bunches, and they happen at a point in the game that makes it very obvious that we either got screwed, or we got very lucky. That last statement is slightly counter intuitive as most people consider themselves lucky when they get a screw, but I digress.
As you watch today’s games, either on TV or refreshing your handheld device to check scores, keep in mind two games from last week where the outcome was most certainly concluded prior to the final gun sounding, but due to a series of events that are hard to imagine, and certainly not believable if they were written into a script, some people celebrated the improbable, and others cursed their horrendous luck. Remember one thing, this is why they call it gambling.
Out first story occurred last Saturday in the game between the Cincinnati Bearcats and the West Virginia Mountaineers. The total was set at 48 and the Bearcats had a commanding 20-7 lead with 1:15 to go in the game. Now, if you were laying money on the Under 48 in this game it was inconceivable that there would be 21 points scored in the last 1:15. And even if there were, you would walk away with a Push. And then the Bearcats lined up to punt on 4th down from inside their own 10 yard line.
As some teams like to do when faced with the prospect of punting from their own end zones with little time left and a lead of more than two scored, they elected to have the punter run around in the end zone for a bit and then step out of bounds and take the safety. This kills some time, it allows the offense to then punt the ball from a more advantageous spot on the field, and it should make the field position for the receiving team a bit more difficult.
So with the score at 20-9 after the safety there was 1:11 left in the game and the Under was all but certain. The Mountaineers moved the ball inside the Bearcat 10 yard line and ended up scoring with 19 seconds to go in the game. WVU went for two, got it and now made the score 20-17, still comfortably under the Total of 48. Next comes the onside kick, which was recovered by WVU. Then as time expired WVU’s kicker, Pat McAfee, drills a 52-yard field goal to send the game into OT tied at 20. Now the Under doesn’t seem like such a lock. What ensued was WVU kicking a field goal with their first possession of OT, and the Bearcats scoring a TD with their possession. Final score, Cincinnati 26 – West Virginia 23. 49 total points and either heartbreak or uncontrollable elation, depending on where your money was laid.
Let’s go to last Sunday’s New Orleans Saints / Atlanta Falcons game where the Total was set at 51. With 1:30 to go the game was 27-13, the Falcons with the lead. The under looked like a sure thing here as well, though New Orleans was on the move late in the game. It would take 2 TDs in the last 1:30 to hit the over and with the Saints in the red zone it was going to take a Saints TD, followed by the Saints recovering the onsides kick and then the Saints scoring another TD, or so it seemed. Granted, stranger things have happened, so the under was certainly not a lock at that point in time. However, with the Saints facing 1st and Goal from the 8-yard line Drew Brees was intercepted at the 5 by Chevis Jackson and 95 yards later the Falcons lead was 34-13, with the total still under and 1:17 to go in a game that was now certainly over from the vantage point of who was going to win.. Even with no chance to win the Saints do the customary thing and try to rush down and score some points, if for no other reason than to show that they didn’t quit. The Saints complete some passes against the Falcons prevent defense and with 6 seconds to go the ball was on the Falcons 32 yard line. Brees takes the snap and heaves a pass into the end zone and it is caught by Lance Moore for a TD, a 34-20 Falcons win and a total of 54 points, thus making all the Overs winners and the Unders losers.
Sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes the bar eats you.
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