4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 11
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 11th weekend of the college football. 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 (-3) 35, Kent State 33: The line on this game crashed from -7½ to just -3 but Toledo led 14-0 nine minutes into the game and maintained a 28-17 edge at halftime. Kent State climbed back in the game and after a late third quarter touchdown the Flashes kicked the PAT to trail by just one. Toledo would answer less than five minutes later to go up by eight but Kent State completed a 15-play drive to find the end zone with just over five minutes remaining. That score put the Flashes in position to cover but the two-point conversion attempt to make things even more interesting came up short.
Miami, OH (+7) 24, Ohio 21: The Bobcats never led in this game but the scoring traded off throughout the game and was tied twice in the fourth quarter as overtime was realistic to keep all spread outcomes in play. With about four minutes remaining Miami connected on Sam Sloman’s 53-yard field goal to take a 3-point lead and Ohio mangled its possession, winding up needing to go for it on 4th-and-23 while having a costly penalty and burning two timeouts.
Illinois (+16) 37, Michigan State 34: The Spartans seemed to be in complete control leading 28-3 early and still 31-10 through three quarters. Illinois would score a pair of touchdowns early in the fourth quarter to get back in the game and then got a 76-yard interception return touchdown. The PAT was missed as the Illini weren’t able to tie the game. Michigan State had to settle for a field goal however and the Illini put together a 13-play drive to go 75 yards in the final three minutes for the upset.
Purdue (-1) 24, Northwestern 22: The dormant Northwestern offense exploded for two first quarter touchdowns but Purdue would take a 21-16 lead by the end of the third quarter. Northwestern went back in front in the fourth but up by one, failed on the two-point try in what lurked as potentially big play relative to the spread with the Wildcats a slight favorite much of the week. Northwestern missed a field goal with 2:30 remaining in the game to leave the door open for Purdue to steal the win late. With about a minute remaining Aidan O’Connell was intercepted in Northwestern territory on 4th down but the play was wiped out with a pass interference call, handing Purdue a new set of downs 15 yards closer. The Boilermakers only gained two more yards and J.D. Dellinger connected from 39 yards for the Purdue win.
Texas San Antonio (+3) 24, Old Dominion 23: The Monarchs had a 23-10 lead through three quarters at home but allowed an 85-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter to wind up in a one-score game. The Roadrunners forced a punt and then put together perhaps their best drive of the season with a 14-play drive that included three 3rd down conversions. The touchdown with fewer than three minutes remaining tied the game and the PAT was good for the lead. Old Dominion approached midfield on its final drive but wound up fumbling on a sack as UTSA got the win.
USC (-5½) 31, Arizona State 26: This line climbed as it became clear that Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels wouldn’t play. USC scored four touchdowns in the first quarter but Arizona State would battle back, climbing within eight in the third quarter before a USC field goal made it an 11-point margin heading into the fourth quarter. The Sun Devils struck early in the fourth to trail by five with a two-point conversion try coming up short in a key play relative to the number. USC continued to fail to pick up first downs managing only three points in the final three quarters but the defense got an interception in the final minute to thwart a promising late drive from the Sun Devils. The fourth quarter touchdown from Arizona State put the scoring at 57, even with a common number during the week but past the late week total that fell to as low as 54½ with the quarterback change.
Mississippi (-28) 41, New Mexico State 3: The Rebels led just 17-3 before getting a touchdown in the final minute before halftime. Adding just seven in the third quarter the margin was right near the spread with a 31-3 edge into the fourth quarter. Mississippi completed a 98-yard drive to slip past the number early in the fourth and then added a late field goal for good measure.
Texas (-7) 27, Kansas State 24: A 14-0 Wildcats lead made the favorite cover for the Longhorns unlikely but Texas scored the next 24 points to lead by 10 early in the fourth quarter. After that short field touchdown drive Kansas State returned the kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown to get back within three however. Texas was held to a 3-and-out and Kansas State got a huge 3rd-and-long unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on its drive. That gain put Kansas State in field goal range and the game was tied at the 6:45 mark. Texas quickly approached the edge of field goal range and then found itself with 1st-and-goal from the Kansas State 2-yard line with a minute and a half to go. Texas did its best to burn the entire remaining clock instead of trying to score a touchdown but on 3rd and goal Sam Ehlinger had enough space to scamper into the end zone but an illegal formation play erased it. Texas eventually kicked a 26-yard field goal that was good and Kansas State didn’t get the ball again. Those laying points on the Longhorns with a spread that jumped from -5½ to -7 didn’t see Tom Herman’s late-game logic quite the same way.
UL-Monroe (+2½) 45, Georgia State 31: This game was tied 24-24 at halftime without consecutive scores for either team. UL-Monroe would take over with a 3-play 82-yard drive to lead by seven but Georgia State answered to leave the game knotted 31-31 through three quarters. A fumble, and two fourth down failures filled the next three Panthers possessions as the Warhawaks would add two touchdowns to pull away.
Wisconsin (-7½) 24, Iowa 22: The Badgers scored a touchdown just before halftime and then again late in the third quarter to emerge with a 21-6 edge. Iowa would put up a great late fight however with 10 points in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter around a Jack Coan interception as some familiarities to the Illinois collapse for Wisconsin emerged. On its field goal Iowa’s kicker was run into but the Hawkeyes opted to keep the points and stay down five rather than going for it on 4th-and-short down eight. The Badgers would burn a big chunk of clock but ultimately couldn’t put the game away, settling for a 29-yard field goal that was barely good. Iowa connected for a 75-yard touchdown pass on its first play and lined up for the tying two-point conversion. Quarterback Nate Stanley ran up the middle and was stopped just short. Wisconsin would reach the Iowa 11-yard-line before ultimately taking a knee in the final minute without adding points.
Baylor (-1½) 29, TCU 23: TCU led 9-0 at halftime looking to end Baylor’s undefeated run but the Bears would hit two field goals to trail 9-6 early in the fourth quarter, the second of which came on a 1-yard drive after inheriting great field position with an interception. Five straight punts followed before Baylor put together a late drive aided by a pass interference call, while also having an interception called off with a false start. The Bears went backwards from the TCU 22 and had to make a 51-yard field goal to force overtime as regulation didn’t feature a touchdown. Overtime would feature five straight touchdowns with Baylor going up by six leading the third session but unable to get the required two-point conversion. That score sealed an unfortunate ‘over’ despite 18 points in regulation. Max Duggan seemed to rush into the end zone to tie the game but on review he was ruled out at the 3-yard-line. TCU went backwards from there and eventually on 4th-and-goal the Baylor defense secured the win with an interception, getting the favorite cover as well while remaining at the front of the Big XII race.
Oklahoma (-14½) 42, Iowa State 41: Oklahoma led 35-14 at halftime and still led by 21 through three quarters. Iowa State got back within the number with a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. Oklahoma fumbled to give the ball right back but Iowa State was unable to score from 1st-and-goal. The defense forced a quick punt and went 80 yards in four plays to suddenly put the game back in play. Facing 3rd-and-7 Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts seemed to be trying to throw the ball away but wound up intercepted in bounds to give the Cyclones great field position. Brock Purdy led a touchdown drive and Matt Campbell made the call to go for the win with 24 seconds to go. Pressure came and Purdy made a throw on the money but egregious pass interference was ignored by the officials as the Sooners escaped.
Hawai’i (-9½) 42, San Jose State 40: The line on the late night game had a late jump to as high as -9½ from -7 to -8 most of the week. That appeared to matter with Hawai’i up nine early in the fourth quarter. San Jose State connected for a 40-yard touchdown pass to get within two but the Warriors burned more than five minutes for a 12-play touchdown drive to go back up by nine. The Warriors had a chance to hold that margin but on 4th-and-7 San Jose State converted in its own territory and a few plays later struck the end zone again with fewer than two minutes on the clock to confirm the underdog cover.