Utah hosts USC Thursday in shadow of betting controversy

Oct 1, 2012 |
Utah and Southern Cal gave sportsbooks a headache the last time they met.
Utah and Southern Cal gave sportsbooks a headache the last time they met.
College football bettors nearly choked on their morning coffees when sizing up the Week 6 schedule early Sunday.

There, standing alone on the Thursday night, was Southern Cal-Utah, like the ex-girlfriend who put your heart through the grinder.

The last time these Pac-12 programs met, the sports betting world was dealt one of its biggest controversies in recent years, thanks to the NCAA.

The September 10 game ended 17-14 in favor of USC, with Utah covering the spread as an 8.5-point underdog. Southern Cal’s Torin Harris blocked a last-second field goal attempt by the Utes and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown with triple zeros on the clock. However, USC was whistled for excessive celebration and game officials erased the TD which would have made the final score 23-14, giving the Trojans the win and the cover.

Two hours later, the NCAA overturned the ruling on the field, giving USC the score and sparking one of the biggest fires to hit sportsbooks in Nevada and online. Angry USC bettors stormed the ticket counter demanding their bets be honored while Utah backers, who hadn’t yet cashed in their bet, stood with hands on head wondering what would come of their wager.

Sportsbooks in Nevada all graded the game in different ways, some sticking with the original 17-14 final and some going with the adjusted score (Nevada gaming rule allows books to use an adjusted score if the event happened that day). Most online books refunded all wagers and ruled the game “no action”.

“It was a pain in the ass, obviously,” Jimmy Vaccaro, veteran oddsmaker for William Hill formerly Lucky’s, told Covers. “There were a few tickets paid out on both sides. We, like a lot of places, took a hit, but some losers came out winners. It wasn’t all bad.”

As for this Thursday’s rematch between USC and Utah, oddsmakers have tabbed the Trojans as 13.5-point road favorites. If you go by the original 17-14 score of last year’s meeting, the Utes have covered in all three games with USC going back to 1993.

“Southern Cal has lost a bit of its luster,” says Vaccaro. “The early numbers seem to be around the right place. With this being a standalone game, I don’t see it coming down from that. The late stuff will favor the favorite.”
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