The Auburn Tigers of the vaunted Southeastern Conference (SEC), the eighth-ranked team in the country, take on the Kent State Golden Flashes from the Mid-American Conference (MAC) at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Alabama on Saturday. As one might expect, the Tigers are heavy favorites, currently -35.5 points, to be precise.
But that didn’t stop one bettor from rolling into the Caesars Palace sportsbook on the Las Vegas Strip Tuesday to plunk down $1,000 on the Tigers on the moneyline at -20000. Assuming Auburn wins outright, and they very likely will, the gambler will net a meager $5 for his efforts.
The bet was originally highlighted by Caesars director of trading Jeff Davis, and it’s a departure from one of the primary tenants of successful sports wagering: properly assessing risk and reward. Translation: a $5 reward is not adequate compensation for putting $1,000 at risk.
Sportsbooks love these bets, because even if the gambler wins, the operator’s loss is negligible, and if a team like Kent State pulls the upset, then the house is definitely the beneficiary.
Inside The Numbers
Auburn entered the 2019 season ranked No. 16, but vanquished the then-No. 11 Oregon Ducks 27-21 in a Week 1 thriller, 27-21. The Tigers followed that up with a 24-6 Week 2 win over Tulane. Kent State was pounded 30-7 by Arizona State to start the season, but the MAC team rebounded to defeat Kennesaw State 26-23 last week.
Over the course of Auburn’s storied football history, the team has been a favorite of 30 or more points, as they are Saturday against Kent State, 26 times, and won all of those games outright, indicating that the bettor’s $1,000 wager at Caesars is likely “safe,” if history repeats.
However, the Tigers have not been good at covering when they’re big chalk. In those 26 games where the Tigers were favored by 30-plus points, Auburn’s record against the spread is just 9-16-1. The projected score of Saturday’s tilt, according to OddsShark, is Auburn 38.3 – Kent State 12.5, indicating the $1,000 bettor may have been better off taking the Golden Flashes and the points at -110 (bet $110 to win $100).
Kent State has been an underdog of 30 or more points 17 times in its history, and has never won outright in that situation, going 7-10 against the spread in those tilts.
If the Golden Flashes pull the upset this week, it would be the fifth-largest spread upset in college football history. On the moneyline, Kent State is currently +9000 (bet $100 to win $9,000).
Before picking on the Auburn backer, it’s worth noting that there are plenty of instances of bettors taking on large risk for meager rewards. As Casino.org reported in August, a gambler laid $100,500 at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas on the Philadelphia 76ers making the 2020 NBA playoffs at -5000, meaning he’ll win just $2,010 and have his capital tied up for nine months for the privilege.
That same gambler also plunked down $10,000 on the Milwaukee Bucks to make the playoffs, a bet that will net him a cool $100 if successful.