In one of the most dramatic finishes of the football weekend, USC beat Utah 23-14 on Saturday.Or did they?
If you look up any of the college football box scores today, they (and the history books) will say that the Trojans won the game by nine points.
But when the teams left the field that night, the scoreboard said USC 17 – Utah 14. So where did those extra six points come from?
With USC leading by three points,before the final play of regulation, Utah lined up for a game-winning tying field goal.
But Trojan Matt Kalil blocked the 41-yard attempt and teammate Torin Harris scooped up the ball and returned it for a touchdown, making the score 23-14.
However, a new rule this season allows officials to take points off the board when a player gets penalised for taunting his opponent on a scoring play. When most of USC’s bench players ran on to the field to celebrate, referees called unsportsmanlike penalties on the Trojans and removed the six points.
No touchdown, but the game was still over and USC was still a three-point winner.
There was one problem, however. Most Las Vegas sports books had the Trojans favoured by eight. Anyone who bet on USC needed those six points to win their bets. Taking away the game-ending TD allowed those who bet on the Utes to cash in.
That alone might not have been a problem for the bookies — except that two hours after the game ended, the Pac-12’s head of officials announced that game officials had misinterpreted the rule. Players on the bench can’t be given a “live ball” penalty for celebrating/taunting. Only players on the field can.
The players on the bench should have been given dead ball penalties, which cannot take points off the board. USC got their six points back and the final score was changed back to 23-14.
USC covered again.
Unfortunately for gamblers, many Vegas sports books refused to change the score. 17-14 was their final number and they were sticking to it. According to RJ Bell of Pregame.com, dozens of angry USC bettors demanded to be paid, to no avail.
A few bookies did relent, and changed the score for USC. But during the time between the ending of the game and the rule change, most Utah bettors had already cashed in, meaning those books paid out to both sides.
So an already controversial rule has now created plenty of real headaches for gamblers and sports books. And if you bet on USC, we hope you didn’t throw your ticket away.
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