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Bad Beats: When Bad QBs Attack

   by Ben Burns - 09/22/2009


Here’s the situation: You’re laying two points with a home favorite. Your team just scored a go-ahead touchdown and now leads 10-6 with 2:30 left.

Which opposing NFL quarterback would you most like to be facing in that situation?

Oakland’s JaMarcus Russell, if not the unanimous first choice, has to be in the discussion.

Yet, on Sunday in Kansas City, Russell delivered a game-winning drive that left Chiefs’ backers scratching their heads about a game they had no business losing.

Russell hasn’t done a lot in the NFL, but he has been consistent – consistently bad. Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock called him the “least-prepared quarterback in the league.”

He looked like it for most of the game against the Chiefs. He was 3 for 17 for 42 yards before the final possession.

But on that final drive, Russell completed 4 of 7 passes for 67 yards and converted a 3rd and 15. He even overcame three false start penalties, before handing off to Darren McFadden for the game-winning five-yard touchdown run.

Surrendering a 69-yard, game-winning drive to the NFL’s worst quarterback hurts. Looking at the box score adds salt to the wound.

The Chiefs dominated this game. They had 25 first downs to the Raiders 11. Kansas City amassed 409 total yards and held the Raiders to a measly 166. They owned a 17 minute advantage in time of possession.

So how did they lose this game? Nine penalties, including a drive-extending personal foul on the Raiders’ final possession, didn’t help. Neither did some horrific clock management at the end of the first half that prevented the Chiefs from attempting a 40-yard field goal.

It was an ugly game between two ugly teams and left a bad taste in the mouth of anyone who bet the Chiefs.

Revenge of the Oddsmakers

Florida and Oklahoma, last year’s BCS Championship Game opponents, combined to go 20-4 against the spread during the regular season.

Oddsmakers appear determined not to let that happen again this year.

The ATS success the Gators and Sooners had last season is extremely rare, especially for big public favorites with gigantic fan bases willing to bet their team regardless of the spread.

In fact, in two of the last three seasons the BCS champion has had a losing mark against the spread. Florida went 4-8 ATS in 2007 and LSU went 5-7-1 in 2006.

That seems like a more likely scenario this season. No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Texas, No. 3 USC, No. 5 Penn State and No. 7 Brigham Young failed to cover on Saturday. Texas, USC and Penn state have yet to cover this season.

By the looks of this week’s opening lines, oddsmakers don’t seem too concerned about the public jumping off the boats of the perennial powers.

Florida is getting attacked by the flu and the Gators’ top defender, linebacker Brandon Spikes, is hurt. Yet, the Gators are 22-point favorites at undefeated Kentucky.

Penn State is a 10-point favorite at home against Iowa. Texas is a 35-point favorite over UTEP, and USC is a 43-point favorite against Washington State.

You never want to put a team on automatic fade, but it will be interesting to see the combined ATS records of the Gators, Longhorns, Trojans and Nittany Lions at the end of the regular season. We’ll go ahead and set the total at 7 games under .500. Which side would you take?

Regular-season ATS records of BCS Championship Game Opponents

2008: Florida 10-2, Oklahoma 10-2.

2007: Florida 4-8, Ohio State 9-3.

2006: Ohio State 7-4, LSU 5-7-1

2005: Texas 10-2, USC 6-6

2004: USC 7-5, Oklahoma 4-8

2003: LSU 10-2, Oklahoma 7-6.

2002: Ohio State 7-6, Miami 4-7.

2001: Miami 6-5, Nebraska 7-5.

2000: Florida State 7-5, Oklahoma 6-5-1.

1999: Florida State 5-6, Virginia Tech 6-4-1.

1998: Tennessee 8-4, Florida State 7-5.

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