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Onside kicks have gone for touchdowns and ruined bets 3 times already this season

They seem meaningless, but as Brent Musburger would say, some people in Nevada know their significance.

Georgia v South Carolina Photo by Todd Bennett/GettyImages

In Week 4, Cal had just scored to cut their deficit against Arizona State to three points.

With under a minute left, the Golden Bears needed to recover an onside kick.

But the Sun Devils didn’t just prevent that. ASU’s DJ Calhoun returned the ball for a touchdown.

That touchdown didn’t matter a whole lot. Calhoun recovering the onside kick nearly ended the game anyway, though it’s possible Cal could’ve gotten the ball back, since it had two timeouts.

That touchdown was very meaningful to some people, though.

  • First, the over-under for the game was 85 points. The teams had 85 combined points before Calhoun’s score.
  • Also, ASU was favored by 3.5 points at most books and won by 10.
  • One inconsequential play ruined two bets that were seconds away from cashing (or vice versa).

In Week 6, Georgia was up 21-14 on South Carolina with under two minutes to go.

The Gamecocks attempted an onside kick.

But the Bulldogs didn’t just recover; Terry Godwin returned it for a touchdown.

  • The over-under was 41.5 points. Before the onside kick, the teams had combined for 35 points. After, they had 42 points.
  • UGA was favored by 8.5 points and won by 14.
  • Again, an onside kick runback changed the outcome of almost every bet placed on a game.

In Week 7, Florida had a 33-14 lead on Mizzou.

With 90 seconds to go, the game was over, but the Tigers tried an onside kick for fun.

The Gators didn’t just recover, Antonio Callaway returned it for a touchdown.

The over-under was somewhere between 51 and 52.5 points, depending on the book. Before the onside kick, the teams had combined for 47 points. After, they had 54 points.

It’s not entirely new for onside kicks to be returned for touchdowns.

The only goal of the kicking team is to recover the ball, and if they don’t, they’ve failed. So they sell out to get the ball, which often leaves them in bad position to make a tackle if the other team ends up with it.

Often, scoring a touchdown after recovering an onside kick is a bad idea!

Scoring means giving your opponent the ball back. By scoring, sometimes you give your opponents an infinitesimal glimmer of hope. Falling down with the ball would have nearly extinguished it. The Arizona State-Cal game could’ve been an example of this, if there had been a little less time on the clock.

Sports are meaningless, and even if we were to pretend sports were meaningful, these were meaningless moments even by sports standards. And yet, they made some people richer and some people poorer. That’s dumb and beautiful.

Thanks to Tom Fornelli for noticing this trend.