There are few days college football fans look forward to more than New Year’s Day — or in a year like 2023 where that happens to be on a Sunday, January 2. There are bowl games from noon throughout the evening, with the Rose Bowl as the crown jewel, but college football bettors will spray the board across the slate on the last full day of games of the season.
This year, the opener was Mississippi State-Illinois in the Reliaquest Bowl in Tampa, as the Bulldogs played to honor their late coach Mike Leach. The spread for the game closed at MSU -3/-3.5, and the Illini were never outside the number…that is until the final play of the game.
Trailing by three, Illinois executed a pretty great start to an attempted miracle on laterals, but as any bettor knows, “pitchy pitchy woo woo” is the last thing you want to see. Sure enough, eventually things broke down and desperation arrived, with Tommy DeVito chucking a ball across the field, where it bounced into the arms of Mississippi State corner Marcus Banks, who bolted 60 yards to the house to put an exclamation point on a Bulldogs win and hand Illini backers the worst bad beat of the young year.
A BAD BEAT FOR THE AGES!!! pic.twitter.com/c3Ba0pZXxM
— Mr Matthew CFB (@MrMatthewCFB) January 2, 2023
Usually, you feel alright if the laterals are happening on that side of the 50, but as soon as the ball bounced that high and Banks got clear of the last offensive player, everyone knew what was coming. Whether you lost a push on the 3 or an outright win on 3.5, it was a painful way for the Illini to fail to cover a game they led by 7 entering the fourth quarter.