4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 9
Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in the ninth big weekend of the college football season to close October. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows.
Toledo (-2½) 37, Eastern Michigan 34: This MAC contest had major momentum swings going from 10-0 to 10-10 by halftime before Toledo scored three touchdowns in the first six minutes of the third quarter to lead 31-10. Eastern Michigan would take over the game with three consecutive touchdowns, the third of which tied the game with 2:35 to go. Toledo fumbled deep in its own territory on the next possession to seemingly hand the Eagles the game but the Eagles would miss a 33-yard field goal. Going first in overtime Eastern Michigan would settle for another field goal and made it but on a 3rd-and-10 Toledo would find the end zone for the win and narrow cover.
Southern Miss (-10) 20, Rice 6: Rice got on the board with a touchdown with six minutes to go in the third quarter to trail by only seven after missing the PAT. The Owls wound up with only 139 yards in the game but were in position to cover with Southern Miss missing a field goal in the fourth that would have put the Golden Eagles up by 10. Looking to run the clock out Southern Miss converted a 3rd down near midfield and Rice called timeout with 1:24 remaining. The Owls got a stop on 1st down but on 2nd down Kevin Perkins broke through for 38 yards and a touchdown, slipping past the spread with 32 seconds to go.
Hawai’i (-10) 45, New Mexico 31: The outcome in Albuquerque was not in doubt for long with a 35-3 halftime lead for the Warriors. New Mexico broke a 67-yard run in the third quarter to find the end zone but Hawai’i added 10 more points to lead 45-10 with nine minutes remaining. New Mexico would score three consecutive touchdowns to become a late backdoor cover threat and they had the ball back with more than three minutes to go. The offense moved the ball and had a new set of downs at the Hawai’i 28-yard-line with a score looking inevitable, but an interception would save Warriors backers with 2:25 to go.
Marshall (-3½) 26, Western Kentucky 23: The line on this game fell throughout the week but Marshall took command early up 23-7 with a field goal midway through the third quarter. Western Kentucky would score near the end of the third to climb within 10 but missed on the PAT. The Hilltoppers quickly were a threat to score again but settled for a short field goal from 1st-and-goal. Up seven Marshall stalled near midfield and had to punt and Ty Storey led Western Kentucky quickly down the field, tying the game at the 6:19 mark. After an exchange of punts, overtime looked likely as a dormant Marshall offense had just over a minute to work with but the Herd inched their way down the field going 51 yards in 10 plays to have a late shot, with kicker Justin Rohrwasser winning the game after an icing attempt by hitting from 53 yards, though those on the favorite were hoping for overtime.
Appalachian State (-28) 30, South Alabama 3: The Mountaineers couldn’t have been much more in control of this game but through three quarters the lead was just 23-0 on a spread that was as low as -24½ early in the week and climbed to close at -28. With just over five minutes remaining South Alabama would hit a field goal to avoid the shutout and seemingly secure the underdog cover but about a minute later Appalachian State broke a 67-yard touchdown run to get there for early week wagers on the Mountaineers.
North Carolina (-3) 20, Duke 17: North Carolina led 14-3 early in the third quarter after a four-play touchdown drive out of halftime. Duke scored two touchdowns in 20 seconds of game clock in the middle of the third aided by an interception to suddenly take the lead. The eventful third quarter continued with a tying field goal from the Tar Heels before a run of five consecutive punts with only one combined first down. North Carolina would go in front with a 40-yard field goal at the 7:00 minute mark, right even with the closing spread though much of the week UNC was at -3½. Duke couldn’t answer and it appeared the Tar Heels would put the game away after they converted a 4th down in the red zone and had 1st-and-goal. On the next play a fumble was recovered by Duke and Quentin Harris would lead an epic late drive that included two fourth downs. Duke eventually had 1st-and-goal at the 3 in the final minute and inched closer with a pass interference call. The clock wound down to just 18 seconds before an inexplicable trick play went horribly wrong for Duke as after a handoff Deon Jackson leaped into the air and attempted a pass that went right to a pair of Tar Heel defenders, intercepted by former quarterback Chazz Surratt.
Navy (-5) 41, Tulane 38: Navy stormed out to a 24-0 lead and still led 31-14 at halftime. Tulane made some adjustments and benefited from good field position to add two touchdowns in the third quarter to get back in the game, trailing by only three. With 10 minutes to go Tulane tied the game with a field goal with Navy held to nine net yards on its first three second half drives. The Midshipmen made a bold decision to go for it on 4th-and-1 from their own 34 and got it and then converted another 4th-and-1 a few plays later still on their own side of the 50. Two plays later Navy was in the end zone and back up by seven with about five minutes remaining. Tulane converted its own 4th down on a 12-play 77-yard drive to tie the game with about a minute to go. Not known for big plays or quick scores Navy was able to get into field goal range and Bijan Nichols was good from 48 for the win, though Tulane held the underdog cover.
Miami, FL (+4½) 16, Pittsburgh 12: The Panthers had a severe production edge in this game but had three turnovers and settled for three field goals as Miami led 10-9 through three quarters with Miami’s scoring drives coming on 30 and 17 yards respectively. Pittsburgh was in position to take the lead midway through the fourth quarter but back-to-back penalties pushed the Panthers from the 1-yard-line to the 11 and they kicked the field goal to go up by just two. Getting the ball back with fewer than four minutes remaining a Miami offense that had produced 154 net yards in the game didn’t seem like a great threat for a game-winning drive but a 4th down was converted near midfield and Jarren Williams hit K.J. Osborn for a 32-yard touchdown with 58 seconds to go.
Charlotte (+3½) 39, North Texas 38: The Mean Green led by 14 entering the fourth quarter but Charlotte would hit a big play to climb within eight and failed going for two. The 49ers would block a North Texas field goal attempt with just over six minutes to go to stay in the game and they quickly added another touchdown but again were unable to come up with the conversion. On its next drive North Texas kicker Ethan Mooney hit from 51 to push the lead to five with just over a minute remaining, a huge kick for those involved on the spread. It wound up not mattering however as Charlotte’s offense again wouldn’t be stopped, going the distance and finding the end zone with 18 seconds to go for the win.
LSU (-12½) 23, Auburn 20: LSU led just 16-13 through three quarters despite a substantial production edge, missing a few opportunities to get ahead further in the third quarter. An 11-play drive that was completed early in the fourth quarter put LSU up by 10 before six consecutive punts as LSU was unable to pull away. Auburn would add a late touchdown for get within three despite a 508-287 yardage edge for LSU.
Memphis (-9½) 42, Tulsa 41: Memphis led 14-0 quickly in this game and still was ahead 35-24 late in the third quarter. Tulsa would rally however with a touchdown late in the third, a quick Memphis punt, and a 14-play, 85-yard touchdown drive that put the Hurricane in front. Memphis would fumble to hand the ball right back but Tulsa had to settle for a field goal to lead by six. A nice kickoff return put the Tigers in good field position and three plays later Memphis was back in front by one. Tulsa delivered a great final drive but kicker Jacob Rainey missed from only 29 yards as the Tigers escaped to set-up next week’s big AAC West showdown with SMU.
Kansas (+6½) 37, Texas Tech 34: Texas Tech led 27-14 late in the third quarter but Kansas would connect for a 65-yard touchdown, getting within seven after the PAT was blocked. The Jayhawks hit another big play in the fourth quarter with a 70-yard pass play to tie the game. Texas Tech answered just a few plays later with a long strike of its own to go back up by seven, just past the common spread. After a pair of punts Kansas delivered a 10-play touchdown drive to tie the game with about five minutes to go and the Jayhawks would force a quick punt on defense. Carter Stanley led an effective drive that chewed up the remaining time and Kansas lined up for a field goal with 13 seconds to go. The kick was blocked and recovered by Texas Tech but fumbled back to Kansas on an ill-advised lateral attempt. Two seconds remained on the clock and with the change of possession it was first down and Kansas kicked in the game-winner on the retry.