Every Thursday on VSiN’s morning show “Follow The Money”, Mike Palm gives an entertaining recap of the five most interesting things in sports betting and culture.
Here’s that segment:
5. The Cliff’s Dull Edge
The Rams 20-12 victory over the Cardinals Sunday afternoon in Glendale moved Sean McVay’s career record against Cliff Kingsbury to 7-1. Kingsbury took over the Cardinals in 2019 after a stunning run as the head man in Lubbock. He went 35-40 in 6 seasons at Texas Tech, including the banner 2015 campaign where the Red Raiders finished tied for fifth in the Big 12.
Back to the desert. The Cardinals faced fourth-and-4 from the Rams 26 with 11:38 left in the game trailing by two scores, 20-9. Kingsbury was wrought with indecision and called a timeout to think about his next move. Instead of kicking a field goal to cut it to a one-score game, the Cards went for it. Kyler Murray’s pass to Marquise Brown was incomplete and the Rams took over on downs, still a tw0-score game.
Here's the problem Cliff: you only got the ball back one more time. Impossible to score 11 on one possession. The Rams fumbled at the goal line after taking nearly five minutes off the clock and the Cardinals took 17 plays and 5:32 to kick a field goal to narrow the gap to 20-12. The onside kick attempt failed, and the Rams just needed two knees to move into first place in the NFC West. So why no FG down 20-9 Cliff?
(“I didn’t feel like kicking field goals was going to get it done.”)
The Cardinals might have been better off hiring a different Texas Tech quarterback to lead their team, like Graham Harrell? Or Graham Potter? Or Gram Crackers?
4. Keeping Up with the Joneses
The mega blockbuster franchise Jurassic Park’s next installment may very well chronicle Matt Ryan’s time in Indianapolis. But on Sunday it was the Colts who dashed the hopes and dreams of Chiefs backers. Trailing 17-13 with just over five minutes left in the game, the Colts and Ryan faced third-and-6 from their own 39. Ryan was sacked by Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton, bringing up fourth-and-14. The Colts would have to punt and hope to hold Patrick Mahomes and Co. on downs to have any chance. But wait … Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones had some parting words for Matt Ryan and referee Shawn Smith was right there to hear it all and toss a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. First-and-10 Colts at the 46.
What exactly did Jones say to Smith? It seems to be a bigger secret than the location of Jimmy Hoffa. Smith would only say it was “abusive language toward an opponent.” When asked if it included profanity, he said “it will all be in our report to the league.” Matt Ryan wouldn’t give it up either, only commenting “It’s a big penalty. You’ve got to keep your cool sometimes in those situations.” And Jones would only say “I don’t think I said anything horrendous. But the official called it, and I can’t take it back. I take full blame.” And the Colts took full advantage. Ryan led them on a drive culminating with a 12-yard TD pass to Jelani Woods with 24 seconds remaining.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid quipped on Monday: “I know talking takes place during the games. The best advice I can give is don’t talk.” Probably not coach, especially after you just forced a punt in the game’s final five minutes.
3. Sliced and Triced
Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa was the scene of Saturday’s Big 12 tilt between Baylor and Iowa State. And also the scene of one of the worst calls I’ve seen in recent years.
Leading 10-7 with just under 9 minutes left in the second quarter, Baylor faced third-and-7 at the Cyclone 29. Baylor handed off to Craig Williams who was tackled after a short gain, forcing a long field goal attempt. But there was a flag on the field. Iowa State was called for a personal foul for a defensive block below the waist. Say what?
As 6-foot-5, 310-pound Baylor offensive tackle Gavin Byers pulled, Iowa State DB Anthony Johnson, all 207 pounds of him came up in run support. As Johnson braced for the contact, Byers drove him to the ground. This was a personal foul on the defense? For those watching on television or on the VSIN app, we have the still shots of the block. Outrageous! Cyclone Head Coach Matt Campbell – a frequent No Hyperbole contributor – was so outraged by the call that he called timeout just to berate the officials and implore them to watch the replay on the scoreboard. And instead of a 46-yard field attempt, Baylor was awarded first-and-10 at the Cyclone 14. Five plays later Bears QB Blake Shapen hit LB Dillon Doyle with a 1-yard TD pass and Baylor led 17-7.
Dave Aranda pantsed Campbell for most of the afternoon, but the personal foul on the Cyclones tops the chart as worst flag of the season to date.
2. Do it Three Times, Shame on Who?
Do it once, shame on you. Do it twice, shame on me. But who gets the shame when you do it three times? The University of Missouri pulled off a trifecta of blunders to steal defeat from the jaws of victory against Auburn on the plains of Jordan-Hare on Saturday afternoon. Trailing 14-0 after the first quarter, Missouri rallied to time the game at halftime. The second half was scoreless when Missouri took over on its own 30-yard line with 1:28 to go after stopping Tank Bigsby on a fourth-and-1 carry.
With 49 seconds left, Missouri QB Brady Cook hit Dominic Lovett with a 39-yard pass down to the Auburn 3. Auburn called its second timeout. The next play was especially curious. Cook took the snap and went back 5 yards before kneeling in the middle of the field at the 8-yard line. Auburn called its final TO. Missouri then took a knee and ran the clock down to 2 seconds before taking a TO. This set up Harrison Mavis for a 26-yard FG to win the game … which he missed, pushing it wide right by inches.
Why did Missouri head coach Eliah Drinkwitz have Cook go back five yards on the first down play? The field goal might have been good from 22 yards out.
Auburn got the ball first in OT and the Missouri defense was stout – as it had been since the end of the first quarter. Auburn kicker Anders Carlson missed his 44-yard FG attempt badly to the left, but Missouri was offside. Carlson then nailed his 39-yard attempt.
On Missouri’s second play in OT running back Nathaniel Peat looked like he was on his way to sealing the upset victory for the boys from Columbia as he raced toward the end zone. But as he reached to stick the ball inside the pylon, he fumbled it and Auburn safety Cayden Bridges jumped on it in the end zone to secure an ugly Auburn victory and Bryan Harsin’s place on the Tiger sideline for at least one more week. Three catastrophic fails in less than 10 minutes of real time for Missouri and a bitter pill to swallow to start their SEC campaign. Up next, top-ranked and defending national champs -- the Georgia Bulldogs.
1. Napier Like Wit
Florida had beaten Tennessee 16 of the past 17 matchups heading into Saturday’s showdown before 101,915 at General Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. QB Hendon Hooker threw for 348 yards and ran for another 112 as the 12th ranked Volunteers beat the 22nd ranked Gators 38-33. The top spot on No Hypebole was earned by Florida Head Coach Billy Napier with 4:49 remaining in the game.
Montrell Johnson’s 5-yard TD run cut the Gator deficit to 38-27. Napier went for 2 to cut the deficit from 11 to 9 and of course failed. It was at that moment that my phone blew up. Colleagues and friends messaging me if I had seen what Napier had just done. Twitter exploded. Some of these observers might have even had the Gators and 10.5 points in their betting portfolios on Saturday.
Florida stopped the Vols on downs after a failed onside kick attempt, and got the ball back with 1:11 to go. Anthony Richardson led them on a 71-yard touchdown drive that narrowed the deficit to 38-33. Napier was forced to go for two to get the deficit to 3 and again failed.
Seventeen seconds remained and this time Florida recovered the onside kick. But now they needed a TD to win instead of having the option of a FG to tie. The game ended when Richardson was picked off on his Hail Mary attempt from the Vols 39 on the game’s final play.
Almost as amazing as the decision to go for 2 down 11 was the fact that no one in the post-game presser asked Napier about it. We had to wait until Monday for him to explain his rationale. Let’s listen to Coach Napier.
(“There’s two avenues, when you really dig into the numbers, about the approach there. First of all, you start talking about playing for a tie, right? When you are on the road, there’s a slight advantage for the home team in overtime, and there’s certainly a bigger advantage when you are a two-score favorite. I think it’s around 63%. So that goes into your decision making. Ultimately the numbers are going to tell you to go for two at the end of the game to win. So you are just declaring the path quicker, and that gives you a chance to adjust your strategy the rest of the game. This is pretty common in this era. Probably the last five years, this has happened a number of times. It’s all well thought out.”)
So well thought out that instead of having the option for a FG to tie the game, which you didn’t want because you only have a 37% chance of winning in overtime, you were left with a desperate Hail Mary. If only the Florida boosters and gamblers had backed the Gators more at the betting windows, perhaps you would have kicked the extra point with under five minutes to go and we might be talking about the comeback and the overtime instead of your decision. I mean, what were your percentages of you were only a seven-point dog?