A Sequence of Screw-Ups Leads to Improbable Defeat
We take a detour from the NFL bad beats for something even better (or worse): an all-time NCAA football blunder courtesy of the Pittsburgh Panthers. The team did a bang-on job at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. And it all happened in the final 1:13 of the game. This is NCAA Football’s Bad Beat of Week 8.
Setting the Stage: Pittsburgh vs Wake Forest
Neither Pittsburgh nor Wake Forest were heavyweights heading into the matchup. The former was 2-4 and the latter was 3-3 and well outside of the Top 25 as far as the NCAAF standings and rankings. But Pittsburgh was favored in this matchup at -2.5 on the spread when the lines closed. After all, the Panthers are coming off a big upset over then-14th-ranked Louisville.
The low total of 45 indicated that this would be a defensive matchup. And that proved true as each team had scored just seven points apiece heading to the fourth. They alternated scoring in the fourth quarter until Pitt quarterback Christian Veilleux hit Bub Means with a 22-yard pass to go up 17-14 with 1:30 left.
Wake Forest got the ball back and just as QB Santino Marucci and the offense were moving the chains quite efficiently, he threw a duck to Pittsburgh defensive back Marlin Devonshire. With just 1:13 left in the game, the ball back with Pittsburgh, and ready to cover the NCAAF point spread, this appeared over. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh backers, the worst was just about to begin.
One Bad Play Leads to the Other
In this final 73 seconds, Pittsburgh crumbled. Following that interception from Devonshire, Secondary player Donovan McMillon then committed a pair of bad penalties. Both got him ejected from the game and pushed Pittsburgh back close to their end zone. But it gets better.
Veilleux carried the ball, ran, and slid for an apparent first down. But wait a minute. Let’s backtrack a little and go back to December 2021. Then-Pitt QB Kenny Pickett did the fake slide against Wake Forest to score for the Panthers. Since then, the NCAA changed the rules on quarterbacks sliding.
Fast forward to this Saturday, and under the new rules, Veilleux was short of the first down as he appeared to have begun sliding just short of the marker. This would still not have been an NCAA football bad beat if the following sequence had not happened. Alas.
Caleb Junko then nearly botched the punt as the ball sailed out of bounds from the midfield. It gave Pittsburgh a good field position.
From there, Marucci would connect with wide receiver Ke’Shawn Williams to get the first down and at the 15-yard line of Pittsburgh’s end zone. The Demon Deacons then spiked the ball with 12 seconds left. Wake Forest was in field goal range and this would have been an easy one. Instead, the home team did this:
“From the 15-yard line… Marucci… over the middle. It’s caught! Touchdown! Cameron Hite with the touchdown,” screamed commentator Jorge Sedano.
And just like that, Wake Forest came from behind to upset Pittsburgh 21-17. It only happened in the final 73 seconds of the game. But that might as well have been 73 minutes of torture and death for Pitt backers as it “wins” our NCAA football bad beat of the week.
Double Bad Beat in the NFL
That Pittsburgh-Wake Forest result was the NCAAF leader of bad beats. But we also had one over the professional side on Sunday courtesy of Cleveland and Indianapolis. The Browns also won the game on a last-second touchdown thanks to running back Kareem Hunt. This finalized the 39-38 final with Cleveland winning.
Colts moneyline backers lost and unfortunately for the Browns’ spread bettors, they lost too. Cleveland did not bother trying on that two-point conversion as anyone who had the Browns anywhere from -1.5 to -2.5 could have cashed their tickets.