Weekend Winner: Big Ten Gamblers And Conspiracy Theories

In sports, everyone is a winner-some people just win better than others. Like the Wisconsin Badgers, who were up 25 with 6 minutes left, and went for two. It didn't please Minnesota, but it pleased some people with money on the game.

The Badgers were well on their way to winning Paul Bunyan's Axe, as they have every year since 2003. But after a touchdown to put the game out of reach, Wisconsin was up 41-16 with 6:39 remaining. Bret Bielema went for two. This was significant for only two sets of people: Minnesota fans, who took it as an insult; and anyone who had bet the over/under, which was set at 58.

I'll spare you the math. A successful two-point conversion would have pushed the total points to 59.

Naturally, Gophers coach Tim Brewster was unhappy, confronting Bielema after the final whistle, and ripping into him in his post-game presser:

I was very upset, and I made sure he understood and made sure he knew," Gophers coach Tim Brewster said of the call. "I thought it was wrong. There's no excuse for it. Period.

"I'd be less of a man if I didn't stand up for my kids."

Bielema defended himself by saying that's what the cards told him to do. Those ubiquitous "go-for-two" cards, which every team has on the sidelines, and relies upon to tell them what situations are ripe for the two-point conversion. Wisconsin's apparently say something like, "Go for two here. If they manage to score three TDs in the next five minutes, and convert their own two-point conversions all three times, then a field goal will only tie it. Who cares if there's barely any time left, and they haven't been able to move the ball all day. Go for two. Be a dick."

Or, you know, help out some big-time Badger Booster who took the over.

Let's be clear. We're not actually suggesting that big time college football is the thrall of Las Vegas, or that Wisconsin was making decisions based on millions of dollars on the line at some sports book. We just love sports gambling conspiracy theories. Tim Tebow taking to the air to cover the spread in the waning minutes of the 2008 SEC Title Game, when pounding the run would've run out the clock. Colorado throwing up a hail mary as time expired against Nebraska last year, still losing by 8, but covering the spread. (Note: no one remembers this but me.)

We're just pointing out that if someone on Wisconsin had the over, going for two — and failing — would have made some very powerful people very unhappy. Someone on Wisconsin might've let Minnesota march 62 yards in 1:38 in order to keep their thumbs. Which is exactly what happened.

Minnesota's meaningless late TD to cement the over, not the thumbs thing.