College Football: Big (Under)Dogs Rule Saturday Thanks to Massive Upsets

College football turned the crazy up to 11 Saturday as there were upsets galore in some hallowed grounds.

Georgia Southern
Georgia Southern
Georgia Southern quarterback Kyle Vantrease dives for the endzone and scores the go-ahead touchdown in the final minute of the Eagles’ stunning 45-42 victory at Nebraska. Georgia Southern was one of four college football teams Saturday to score a straight-up win as a massive underdog. (Image: AJ Henderson/Georgia Southern Athletics)

Three Sun Belt teams went to Notre Dame, Texas A&M, and Nebraska as double-digit underdogs. Those teams, Marshall, Appalachian State, and Georgia Southern, didn’t just cover. They won outright, giving some bettors a hefty payday.

Even a Power 5 school got in on the action as Washington State went to Wisconsin and shocked the Badgers. As David Bearman, ESPN’s deputy editor of sports betting, noted, Saturday marked the first time since Division I split into the Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision that four favorites of at least 17.5 points all lost straight-up on the same day.

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It should have been five, but we’ll get to that later.

Sun Belt Stunners

We’ll start with the Sun Belt, which earned its “Fun Belt” nickname in spades Saturday. It started in South Bend, Ind., where Marshall entered Notre Dame Stadium as a 20.5-point dog to the Fighting Irish. Instead, Khalan Laborn ran for 163 yards and a score and the Thundering Herd defense picked off three passes to secure a 26-21 victory.

According to DraftKings, 99% of the moneyline bets were on the Irish, as were 92% of the spread wagers.

As Marshall thundered out of South Bend, Appalachian State went down to Kyle Field and, in front of 92,664 fans, shocked the Texas A&M Aggies 17-14. It wasn’t nearly as chaotic a game for the Mountaineers as last week’s heartbreaking 63-61 loss to North Carolina, but it was the team’s biggest victory in 15 years, dating back to when they were an FCS squad that upset Michigan 34-32.

App State was an 18.5-point underdog to the Aggies, according to Bet365. WynnBET had the Mountaineers as a +600 underdog on the moneyline. Very few bit on that, as the book reported 96.4% of the moneyline bets and 62.9% of the handle went on the Aggies (-900).

Georgia Southern completed the hat trick for the conference Saturday evening in Lincoln. The Nebraska Cornhuskers aren’t the power they used to be, but the Huskers still entered the game as the heavy favorite. According to Caesars Sportsbook, the Eagles were available at +1450 on the moneyline.

But quarterback Kyle Vantrease’s 8-yard run with :36 left gave Georgia Southern a 45-42 win, which was secured when a Nebraska 52-yard field goal attempt at the gun went wide left.

One More Upset and One That Should’ve Been

The upsets didn’t stop there. Washington State from the Pac-12 shocked Wisconsin as a 17.5-point underdog, winning outright 17-14 thanks to Nakia Watson, who ran for a score and caught another.

The Cougars were a +650 underdog on the moneyline, and according to Caesars, a New Jersey bettor put $50 down on a 3-team moneyline parlay with the Cougars, Marshall (+1050), and Appalachian State (+700). That bettor won $34,450.

As I mentioned up top, there should have been a fifth one. Top-ranked Alabama went down to Texas, where the host Longhorns were a 20.5-point underdog and +850 on the moneyline. According to FanDuel, 88% of the spread wagers and 91% of the handle went on the Crimson Tide, and at -1600, Bama commanded 87% of the moneyline handle.

But it took Heisman winner Bryce Young leading a 61-yard drive with less than :90 left that resulted in Will Reichard kicking a 33-yard field goal for Alabama to pull out a 20-19 win.

But Texas fans and bettors had to be fuming at the end. Earlier in the game, the officiating crew missed an apparent safety, which would have given Texas two points. They also missed a blatant facemask call as Texas was driving in the third quarter. The Longhorns scored a field goal on that drive, but the missed penalty kept them from getting at least a couple more cracks at the endzone for a touchdown.

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