Alabama was one of the most popular bets on the college football board, including a $320,000 money-line wager at Caesars Sportsbook to win $20,000.
But the Crimson Tide barely escaped Texas with their undefeated record intact and cost bettors along the way.
“That was a really good game,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said Saturday via text message. “Would have been a monster had Texas won outright.”
No. 1 Alabama failed to cover as a 20½-point favorite, needing some heroics from quarterback Bryce Young and a late field goal to pull out a 20-19 victory over Texas.
The total of 65 was never in danger, another positive result for sportsbooks.
The Crimson Tide garnered 84 percent of the spread bets and 90 percent of the handle at Caesars.
At WynnBET, Alabama was the most-bet college football market and also had the highest handle. In addition, the number of Alabama spread tickets was more than double the number of tickets on the money line.
Under coach Nick Saban, Alabama is now 21-0 straight up and 12-9 against the spread when favored by 20 or more points in a true road game.
Young, favored at most sportsbooks to win his second straight Heisman Trophy, had a huge fourth quarter to help the Crimson Tide overcome 15 penalties.
Texas missed a 20-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter that cost first-half money-line bettors, as the teams went into halftime tied at 10.
The Longhorns also were not awarded a safety in the third quarter after a bizarre call by officials following a video review.
Alabama was atop the Westgate SuperBook’s top 131 power ratings after routing Utah State in the opener. But following a near-miss against the Longhorns, who played most of the way with a backup quarterback, the Crimson Tide’s grip on the top spot might not be as firm as before.
“The top 20 in college football should be interesting this week,” Esposito said.
Tennessee-Pittsburgh over bettors had to feel good at halftime with 41 points on the board. They were likely chugging Pepto Bismol when it was over.
After a low-scoring second half, Pitt drove for the game-tying touchdown and extra point with 2:23 remaining. When the game went into overtime tied at 27, the backdoor slid open to go over the total of 62½.
Tennessee scored a touchdown on the second play of OT, and the Panthers reached the 8-yard line on their possession, lending more optimism for the over to cover.
But on third-and-goal, Pitt quarterback Nick Patti was sacked for a 12-yard loss, and a fourth-down pass fell short, as did the total.
That was the opposite of what happened in the Houston-Texas Tech matchup.
Houston kicked a field goal to go ahead 20-17 with 37 seconds left, but the Red Raiders answered with a field goal with three seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
The total of 62½ appeared safe until the teams traded touchdowns in the first OT, and the Cougars kicked a field goal in the second extra period. Texas Tech responded with a touchdown to win 33-30 and send the total over.
The ending of the Duke-Northwestern game is the kind that sticks with bettors for years. And not in a good way.
First, Duke opted to kick a field goal from the 1-yard line rather than going for the touchdown that would have pushed the closing total of 57.
Northwestern took possession trailing 31-23 with 1:18 remaining and marched to the Blue Devils’ 12-yard line. The total was back in play for those holding an over ticket.
On third-and-1, Wildcats running back Evan Hull took a handoff and appeared headed for the end zone. But before Hull reached the goal line, Duke’s Jaylen Stinson forced a fumble with a thumping hit. Brandon Johnson recovered in the end zone for the Blue Devils with 12 seconds remaining.
Duke then ran out the clock, and the final score stayed under the total to hand a crushing beat to over bettors.
There were 17 games Saturday featuring top-25 teams against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents, and favorites went 10-5 straight up and 5-10 against the spread. That excludes No. 4 Michigan and No. 9 Baylor, which both played late Saturday.
The teams in the top 10 didn’t fare well, either, going 4-2 straight up and 1-5 ATS. No. 10 Southern California is the only team to cover thus far.
Appalachian State upset No. 6 Texas A&M as 18-point road underdogs. Marshall, a 20½-point underdog, knocked off No. 8 Notre Dame. And Washington State topped No. 19 Wisconsin, which was a 17½-point home favorite.
Esposito said those were favorable results for Station Casinos.