Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Kendall Smith (7) intercepts the ball from Mississippi State Bulldogs wide receiver Jan 2, 2023; Tampa, FL, USA; DUPLICATE***Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Kendall Smith (7) intercepts the ball from Mississippi State Bulldogs wide receiver Rufus Harvey (82) in the second quarter during the 2023 ReliaQuest Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

It was a special day for Mississippi State on Monday as they took the field in the ReliaQuest Bowl without head coach Mike Leach, who passed away last month. The team decided to play the game to honor him and they certainly did that in many ways, including a wild final play that ruined the day of many gamblers.

On the final play of the game, Illinois trailed the Bulldogs, 13-10. Out of options, they did what so many teams have been doing in this situation. They just started lateraling until they couldn’t anymore. However, for the second time in recent weeks, we saw this go horribly wrong as the opposing team recovered the ball and returned it for a touchdown.

While MSU’s touchdown didn’t change the outcome of the game, the 19-10 score certainly changed the outcome for many bettors. The line was in favor of Illinois at 3.5 or 4, depending on the sportsbook. That means that had Illinois simply gotten tackled, those bettors would have won. But because they gave away the meaningless touchdown with no time left on the clock, they lost.

Adding insult to injury, Illinois bettors just thought they’d survived because the Bulldogs kicked a field goal instead of scoring a touchdown on the previous play, which kept them under the spread.

That’s a brutal bad beat.

“Hitting a backdoor cover at the buzzer for Leach,” wrote Brian Floyd.

“Swing Your Sword … if you needed this to get the Miss. State win against the number. Wow,” added The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman.

[The Comeback on Twitter]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to