-- There will be many nervous Auburn fans Monday night as they watch their Tigers take on Florida State in the VIZIO BCS National Championship, but Mark Skiba is an odds-on favorite to be among the most skittish.
That's because Skiba's $100 bet has turned into a possible $50,000 payday -- if the Tigers win the title.
Last January, Skiba's father was on vacation in Las Vegas when he placed a $100 bet for his son on Auburn to win the title game at 500-to-1 odds. The team's thrilling finishes against Georgia and Alabama, and a loss by Ohio State to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game, resulted in the Tigers landing in Pasadena opposite the top-ranked Seminoles.
When Skiba went public with his ticket last month, many fans contacted him on Twitter to offer advice. Most told Skiba that if they were him, they would place a sizable bet against Auburn to guarantee a payday.
Skiba had planned on doing exactly that. But as Monday's game approached, he backed off. With Florida State becoming more and more of a favorite, it meant that Skiba would have to bet even more money against Auburn to balance out the action.
So after consulting with his high school buddy, accountant Brian Burnett, who is an Alabama alum, the two made the trip to Las Vegas for the game but decided to let the bet ride.
"I heard from a lot of Auburn fans," said Skiba, 39, who lives in Alabama and works for a medical software company. "Some of them said, 'You've come this far, you going to give up now?'"
Others told Skiba that if he placed a bet on Florida State to win the game, he'd be jinxing his team.
Skiba said, eventually, he felt weird about the idea.
"At the end of the day, I want us to win the game," Skiba said. "We're playing for the damn national championship. Winning the money still doesn't even seem real."
Skiba said he'll hunker down in front of the big televisions at one of the many sports books in Las Vegas and have a couple of beverages to ease the nerves. He'll be wearing the same orange shirt and blue blazer he wore when Auburn won the title three years ago, when Skiba said he won $1,000 on a $10 bet he placed at 100-to-1 odds.
If Auburn wins, Skiba wouldn't be the only big winner in his family. His father revealed on Christmas that he, too, had placed a bet, though he didn't have as much faith as his son. His $10 bet will make him $5,000 richer if Auburn wins.