Upsets excite

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Shortly after the San Francisco Giants clinched their birth into the World Series, College Football’s No. 1 BCS team, Oklahoma, was being knocked off by an upstart giving a whirlwind of excitement and emotions not many other places than a Las Vegas sports book can offer. 

Some of the folks had wagers on the game and a few were just passersby, looking to see what all the excitement was about. Combined together inside the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book with hundreds of people (standing room only), it was a pretty gripping moment.

The majority of the crowd appeared to be favoring the Phillies who were a -160 favorite to force a Game 7 and +140 coming in to advance to the World Series. The fans agonized and cheered each pitch down the stretch with the biggest moan of roars came when Juan Uribe hit a solo home run in the top of the eighth to give the Giants a 3-2 lead. 

At the same time that was going on in the baseball game, undefeated No. 11 Missouri was taking over the fourth quarter of a game that Oklahoma had just taken a 21-20 lead. The majority of the bettors in the crowd had OU laying 3 and erupted with excitement when it appeared that the Sooners would be putting the pesky Mizzou squad away.

When Missouri started taking control of the fourth quarter, there was small support from some bettors, but mostly just college football fans that love witnessing upsets. 

This wouldn’t be just any upset either. This was of monstrous proportions that would send shockwaves rippling through college football. Fans who had ties to Boise State, TCU, Auburn, Michigan State and Alabama were all rooting for Missouri. As the Tigers started a 16-0 run in the fourth quarter, the cheers for them became louder.

Oklahoma bettors had finally stopped figuring out scenarios to cover the 3 once Missouri led 36-21 with 6:36 left in the game. When it was a difference of eight points, I could hear schemes of hope from some in the crowd, “We can still get there, we need a score, then a two-point conversion and then overtime where we can push or win.”

Just before going to the bottom of the eighth, the FOX coverage showed Tim Lincecum warming up in the bullpen which blew everyone’s mind away. “Oohhh, they’re bringing the Freak in to close this thing out,” said one guy in a group sitting at a table full of empty beer bottles. Giants supporters were at ease and felt comfortable with the one run lead. Phillies bettors were a bit more tense and nervous. 

Lincecum had just thrown 104 pitches in seven innings two nights before. This was like seeing Orel Hershiser in 1988 or Randy Johnson in 2001 letting it all hang out (no matter how sore their arm was) to get their team to the next level.

The Freak delivered immediately in typical fashion, striking out Jayson Werth leading some to shout out, “It’s all over,” but then two successive Phillies’ singles got the crowd going again. When Lincecum was lifted, the noise got louder.

“See you, Freak, thanks for stopping by,” as the Phillies fans hurdled that challenge, but now had to get the runners home. Unfortunately, the Giants would be bringing in their closer with the dyed beard, Brian Wilson, to attempt a five out save opportunity. 

With one out and two runners on, Carlos Ruiz lines out to first in starting a double play when Giants tagged out the moving runner on second. There was a sudden hush where smiles and cheers were halted. It was almost as if the game had ended. An opportunity had been squandered. 

Yes, there still was the ninth inning, but the Phillies fanatics felt what was eventually about to happen and it did. Even though the Phils got two runners on by walks, the excitement level had been drained a bit from the previous inning.

When Ryan Howard was emphatically called out on a third strike by the home plate umpire, there was a light applause and cheer for the Giants in the Hilton book. Several others ripped up their bet tickets and threw them in the air like confetti. As time was running out in the Missouri upset, everyone was figuring out their new personal BCS rankings with differing opinions of how the computer formula works.

One person suggested that No. 4 Auburn would leap Boise State this week to No. 2 just behind Oregon, stating that the computer doesn’t like TCU or Boise St’s conferences. Yes, with two huge games ending at the same time and characters from all walks of life converging in one area of casino together as one, there’s no better place to be than Las Vegas. 

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