Clemson’s TD with 12 Seconds Shifted Millions of Las Vegas Betting Dollars

Clemson’s TD with 12 Seconds Shifted Millions of Las Vegas Betting Dollars
Heisman Trophy Winner Derrick Henry embraces Heisman 3rd Place Deshaun Watson after the National Championship Game.

The last-minute touchdown in the College Football Playoff National Championship (Presented by AT&T) shifted millions of betting dollars on Monday night. Though the touchdown by Clemson with 0:12 seconds did not change the outcome of the game, it was a huge deal to the gamblers of America.

Most sportsbooks had the Alabama Crimson Tide a 6- to 7-point favorite. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook had the Crimson Tide a 6.5-point favorite at kickoff. When Clemson took over the ball with 1:07 left in the game, Alabama has what looked to be a secure 12-point lead. But DeShaun Watson marched the team down the field on a last-ditch, desperate drive to get back in the game.

DeShaun Watson Magnificent in Defeat

The Tigers marched down the field with one of their best drives of the night, taking advantage of Alabama’s willingness to keep their safeties deep to avoid a game-changing big play. Instead, they let Clemson throw balls underneath, willing to trade yardage for time. The strategy did not work on the 24-yard touchdown pass by DeShaun Watson to Jordan Leggett, because Watson stood in the pocket and split the defenders with a laser throw. The extra point brought the score to 45-40.

After the touchdown, Clemson had one last chance to win the game. They attempted an onsides kick. Greg Heugel executed the kind of kick necessary for a successful recovery, as the ball tumbled quickly along the ground several times, then popped up in the air, giving the receiving team trouble with recovery. Unfortunately for Clemson, the ball popped up in the air too late and too high, so it went out of bounds with no one recovering it, which automatically gave the ball to Alabama.

Onsides Kick Changed the Momentum

It was a successful onsides kick from Alabama which seemed to change the dynamic of the game. Alabama tied the score 24-24 with 10:35 left in the game. Though the Crimson Tide had evened up the scoring, Clemson was set to receive the ball on the kickoff and seemed to be controlling play, to a large degree.

Nick Saban explained his reasoning on the ensuing kickoff. He told ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt, “We weren’t playing very well on defense. It was a tie game. I thought we needed to do something that was going to change the momentum of the game. That certainly did.

Kicker Adam Griffith a “pop up kick” which was recovered by Marlon Humphrey. The play looked more like a soccer pass, which makes sense, because Adam Griffith got his start in sports playing soccer in his native land of Poland (when he was named “Andrzej Debowsk”). Two plays later, Jake Coker hit A.J. Howard for a 51-yard touchdown pass and a 31-24 lead. Though the Clemson Tigers continued to play tough after that play, Nick Saban’s team seemed to be in control of play after that point. It is Alabama’s 4th National Championship in 7 years.

First Time Saban Did Not Cover Bets

To the sports gamblers, it hardly matters who won, so long as their side covered the bet. Nick Saban had never failed to cover in a National Championship game before, so many gamblers had wagered on Alabama. When Clemson covered late, it caused huge amounts of cash to change hands. Johnny Avello of the Wynn SportsBook said $10 million swung on the touchdown with 12 seconds at his casino alone.

“Enormous” for Vegas Sportsbooks

Ed Salmons, the Westgate Superbook’s racing and sports director, said, “It was enormous for us. It’s just like the Super Bowl. You want the favorite to win because there are a lot of underdog bets on the money line, but you don’t want them [the favorite] to cover the spread. So it worked out perfectly for us.”

That is exactly how it happened on Monday night. The Alabama Crimson Tide is the National Champion again, Nick Saban collected his 5th champsionship for himself and a claim on “Greatest College Coach Ever”, and the Las Vegas sportsbooks collected millions of dollars from disappointed gamblers. Thus, for one night, everything seems right in the sports world.

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