Stanford escaped the Rose Bowl with a 22-13 win over UCLA on Saturday night, but the final score is not indicative of how tight the game was throughout.
The Cardinal trailed most of the contest only to take a 16-13 lead with less than 30 seconds to play. And with sportsbooks closing with the line at Stanford -3 to -3.5, there appeared to be a push or UCLA cover coming.
Instead, Stanford tacked on a fumble return touchdown as time expired after Solomon Thomas picked up a ball jarred loose by a sack of UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen as he loaded up for a Hail Mary attempt.
That gave Stanford a nine-point margin of victory and meant the Cardinal covered on all tickets, not just for those that got the line earlier in the week at -2 or -2.5. Stanford was the public side, which meant sportsbooks took a big hit with that late touchdown.
SportsLine.com expert Micah Roberts, a former Vegas bookmaker, filed the following to CBS Sports:
The end result for Las Vegas sportsbooks was not good. CG Technology vice president of risk management Jason Simbal said the swing cost his seven books across the valley in the neighborhood of $150,000-$200,000.
Most books experienced similar results and the local chain of books like Stations, Coasts and South Point may have felt it the worse just because they get the most parlay action in Vegas.
South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews said the decision was "a lot better than landing on 3" just because they had UCLA action at +3.5 and Stanford at -2.5, meaning the middle was in play. It also would have meant a huge refund on the game at 3, which would have kept more parlays alive for both sides the game.
Despite a few large plays on UCLA during the week, the game was overloaded with public parlay action, and it was one of the final games posted meaning that every live parlay from the afternoon gave the game additional unforeseen risk.
That final minute of the ball game was not a fun stretch for the bookmakers but certainly caused jubilation for the public. At William Hill sportsbooks, 81 percent of the money wagered on the game was on Stanford as of 10 a.m. ET on Saturday when the Cardinal were three-point favorites at the time.
LOL what a brutal loss for anyone that backed UCLA with that Stanford last second fumble return for TD to COVER! Glad I have no action here— Mike McClure (@Mike5754) September 25, 2016
Remember: In Vegas, every touchdown counts, even if the game result isn't impacted. Those late touchdowns almost always mean something to somebody, and on Saturday night the Cardinal's scoop and score gave a big boost to the public and put a dent in the bookmakers' pockets.