Whew, buddy. If you’re into the whole “bad beats” thing, we’ve got quite the unimaginable one as we put a cap on 2021. Pitt +3.5 ticket holders, do not continue on with this article.
It took the Pitt Panthers just one nightmarish stretch to undo three quarters’ worth of impressive football on Thursday night as their hopes for a Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl victory vanished at the hands of the Michigan State Spartans. But while the win was undoubtedly priority No. 1 for the two competing schools, the final score is what had a hold on a portion of the sports betting world.
Here’s how the Panthers may have cost many a rough night of sleep last night:
Pitt controlled the game for the better part of four quarters, despite falling behind 7-0 to start the game. The Spartans struggled to break the game open and, instead, missed a field goal, threw an interception and then fumbled on their own side of the field that would turn into a scoop and score. Pitt led 21-10 after three quarters, and their +3.5 line appeared to be in amazing shape. That’s when things got wacky.
MSU took the ball early in the fourth quarter and drove the length of the field for a 15-yard TD pass from Payton Thorne to Connor Heyward to make it 21-16 Pitt. A Pitt three-and-out ensued, which led to another Thorne touchdown pass, this time to Jayden Reed. Jalen Nailor “Mossed” a Panther defensive back at the goal line on the two-point conversion attempt, giving the Spartans a 24-21 lead.
Down three points with just under three minutes to play, all the Panthers had to do in order to cover the spread was play it safe and take care of the ball. But, of course, they had bigger things in mind than satisfying a few bettors.
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Davis Beville and the Pitt offense marched down the field and onto the Spartan’s 26-yard line with 36 seconds remaining. A touchdown seemed plausible with at least a field goal on the table. But Michigan State LB Cal Haladay had other plans. Haladay stepped in front of, and picked off, a Beville pass and returned it 78 yards the other way for a Spartan touchdown — putting a cap on a fourth-quarter comeback and destroying Pitt +3.5 tickets in the process.