4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 13
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 13th and second-to-last full weekend of the college football season. 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.
Georgia Tech (+2½) 28, NC State 26: The Yellow Jackets opened as a slight favorite but Thursday afternoon the line flipped to leave the Wolfpack as a slight road favorite in the underwhelming ACC prime time matchup. Georgia Tech came to play with a 14-0 edge early and also delivered a touchdown on a short field in the final minute before halftime. Another score late in the third quarter seemingly put the game away with a 28-10 edge for the Yellow Jackets but early in the fourth quarter NC State was back within one-score down by eight, making the most of an extra opportunity off a fumble. With about five minutes remaining NC State completed a lengthy drive for a touchdown but the two-point conversion attempt failed and Georgia Tech was able run off the remaining time to hold on.
Wyoming (-4) 17, Colorado State 7: The Friday night home favorite line crashed down to -4 from -7 or -6½ much of the week and in chilly conditions in Laramie it was a 7-7 tie at halftime. Out of the break Colorado State went for it on 4th-and-short on its own side of the 50 and came up short with Wyoming able to take advantage of the short field for a touchdown drive to lead by seven heading into the fourth quarter. After the aggressive call backfired earlier in the game Mike Bobo opted to try a 50-yard field goal on 4th-and-2 early in the fourth quarter down by seven for a puzzling move that also failed to work out. The Rams later failed going for it on 4th-and-6 just across midfield and also came up short for another missed opportunity. Wyoming added a field goal to lead by 10 and the final Colorado State threat ended in an interception as the Cowboys managed to win and cover despite totaling just 17 points and 273 yards.
Kent State (+3) 41, Ball State 38: In a bowl elimination game Ball State led 24-21 at halftime as a slight road favorite in a game where both teams wound up with big yardage totals. Kent State score 10 points in the third quarter but Ball State answered twice in the fourth to keep the game tied at 31-31 and then 38-38 with four minutes to go. The Flashes were able to work the field and the clock, kicking the game winner with 19 seconds to go for a minor upset, with 6-6 still in reach next week.
Oklahoma State (-7) 20, West Virginia 13: With Spencer Sanders injured, Hawai’i transfer Dru Brown stepped in at quarterback for Oklahoma State. The road favorite trailed in Morgantown through three quarters but consecutive scoring drives put the Cowboys up by seven in the fourth, even with the closing number although much of the week the line was down to -6 and even -5½ though it briefly hit as high as -7½ early in the week. Needing a touchdown to tie West Virginia was a late threat, reaching the 17-yard-line in the final minutes but the Mountaineers got stuck in a long downs and distances and could not finish the drive.
BYU (-42) 56, Massachusetts 24: The Cougars had a 49-0 edge at halftime and with little at stake in the second half, Massachusetts was able to get a muffed punt for short field to set up a score to get on the board. BYU still led by 46 heading into the fourth quarter and stopped the next UMass drive at the goal line to keep points off the board. The Minutemen would still add two late touchdowns with the game out of hand to secure the underdog cover with the massive price.
Minnesota (-16) 38, Northwestern 22: Tanner Morgan being cleared to play for the Gophers pushed this line upward but the Gophers turned in a 21-0 edge by early in the second quarter. Northwestern would stay in the game however and is was only a 28-16 score through three quarters. Minnesota would add 10 points in the fourth to lead by 22 but with about two minutes to go Northwestern completed a 77-yard drive and down 16 went for two in a key play for some with the late rise on the spread. The conversion failed as Minnesota cleared the number for all but the latest backers who left with a push.
UCF (-8) 34, Tulane 31: UCF had a 31-17 lead through three quarters and a field goal made the margin 17 with about 10 minutes remaining. Tulane didn’t mail it in however and added a touchdown with seven minutes to go. Rather than adding a field goal UCF went for it on 4th down late in the game and didn’t get there, leaving time for the Wave. After an earlier 4th down conversion Tulane faced 4th and goal from the 7 with 26 seconds left down by 10 and converted for the spread-stealing score.
Michigan State (-21½) 27, Rutgers 0: Michigan State looked to snap its losing streak and got in front of Rutgers 17-0 by halftime. The Spartans only added a field goal in the third quarter but got the ball right back with an interception. Michigan State added a touchdown four plays later and forced two late Rutgers punts to preserve the shutout and road favorite cover.
Air Force (-24½) 44, New Mexico 22: Air Force had only a 14-10 lead at halftime as the heavy favorite cover looked unlikely. The lead was just 21-16 after exchanging touchdowns but a blocked PAT gave Air Force two points after New Mexico’s touchdown. A few minutes later the Falcons hit on a 59-yard pass play to lead by 14. Air Force added two more scores both in the air in the fourth quarter to lead 44-16 but New Mexico would eventually answer with fewer than two minutes remaining. Down 22, the Lobos went for two and failed to leave the margin there at 22 on a spread that climbed from 21½ to 24½ during the week.
Georgia (-12) 19, Texas A&M 13: Georgia never really got going on offense but managed to lead by 13 into the second half even with only one of four scoring drives going further than 23 yards. Field goals were exchanged as early in the fourth Georgia still led by 13 but the Aggies converted a pair of 3rd-and-longs on the way to a touchdown with 11 minutes remaining. Texas A&M reached the Georgia 43 on a late drive down six but opted to punt on 4th-and-11 with still more than four minutes remaining and three timeouts left but the Bulldogs never gave the ball back.
USC (-12½) 52, UCLA 35: USC scored four straight touchdowns in the middle of this game to lead by 24 but UCLA trimmed the margin to 10 by the start of the fourth quarter. Seconds into the final frame USC connected for a 49-yard touchdown to go back up by 17 but UCLA was able to answer. Defensive stops weren’t common in this rivalry game and USC was back in the end zone a few minutes later on the way to amassing 643 yards in the game. Down 17 UCLA went for it on 4th-and-7 in field goal range came up short late in the game leaving the deficit at 17 despite producing 540 yards in the game.
California (-1½) 24, Stanford 20: The Game was knotted at 17-17 halfway through the fourth quarter before Stanford connected for a 44-yard field goal with just 2:23 remaining. Chase Garbers led the Bears 75 yards in just six plays, finishing the drive with a 16-yard run to go in front and the Bears held on defense for the win, eliminating Stanford from bowl contention.
Navy (-3) 35, SMU 28: SMU led 21-10 at the half but Navy was within one by the start of the fourth quarter. Just seconds into the fourth the Midshipmen delivered the go-ahead touchdown and got the two-point conversion to lead by seven. SMU didn’t take long to answer hitting a 61-yard touchdown pass but Navy had a 70-yard touchdown run a few minutes later. SMU reached the Navy 12-yard-line in the final minutes before being stopped on 4th-and-4.
UAB (-6½) 20, Louisiana Tech 14: The Blazers led 20-7 through three quarters but Louisiana Tech spoiled the cover with a 14-play touchdown drive in the fourth quarter following a UAB interception in the end zone. There was little production either way in the final eight minutes as the final margin landed on six with a push a common result as well and results both ways possible depending on the timing.
New Mexico State (-7) 44, UTEP 35: The Aggies led 21-16 through three quarters before scoring exploded in the fourth. UTEP would briefly take the lead 22-21 but then New Mexico State added the next 16 points including a defensive score to lead by 15. UTEP closed to within eight but The Aggies answered with a 53-yard touchdown run. As time expired UTEP would find the end zone but it wasn’t quite enough with a nine-point final.
Wake Forest (-6) 39, Duke 27: Wake Forest had a convincing yardage edge and a 10-point lead heading into the fourth quarter but Duke was able to stay within striking distance with a touchdown early in the fourth and then held the Demon Deacons to a short field goal. Duke then delivered 98-yard kickoff return touchdown to suddenly take the lead. Wake Forest would answer in only three plays but couldn’t get the conversion and led by just five on a favorite spread that fell from -7½ to just -6 by kickoff. Duke wasn’t able to pick up a first down but the defense had a chance to get the ball back as Wake Forest went for it on 4th down just outside of field goal range. An 11-yard run followed and the Demon Deacons were into the end zone two plays later for the 12-point final margin.
Cincinnati (-8½) 15, Temple 13: The Bearcats led 13-0 through three quarters in this game despite several scoring chances for Temple in the first three quarters and a substantial production edge for the underdog Owls. The favorite spread for Cincinnati crashed from -10½ to -8½ on Saturday and the favorite cover still seemed possible after Temple finally got on the board as the PAT was blocked and returned the other way to keep Cincinnati ahead by nine. Temple forced a 3-and-out on defense and converted two third downs on the way to another touchdown to trail by two with seven minutes to go. Cincinnati missed a field goal on the next drive to give the Owls a great shot at the upset. A play after converting a 4th down, Temple quarterback Anthony Russo was intercepted taking a shot into Cincinnati territory as the Bearcats survived to stay perfect in AAC play.
Arkansas State (-1) 38, Georgia Southern 33: Big plays were the name of the game for Arkansas State with four early touchdowns on passes for 27 or more yards plus a 94-yard kickoff return touchdown, taking a 35-10 lead. Georgia Southern produced a massive rushing edge in this game however and while more methodical in its pace, found a way back in the game. A touchdown and a two-point conversion in the third quarter brought the Eagles within 11 and the defense caught a break with a missed Red Wolves field goal. With about five minutes left in the game Georgia Southern scored to climb within five and Arkansas State again missed a kick trying to extend the lead to eight. In the final two minutes Georgia Southern reached the Arkansas State 33-yard-line before taking a sack and a 4th-and-11 scramble netted only 10 yards as the Red Wolves escaped.
LSU (-41) 56, Arkansas 20: Two Arkansas field goals early in the game seemed possibly enough for the underdog cover with a massive spread in this contest. LSU managed two touchdowns late in the first half however and took over in the third quarter, eventually leading by 50 early in the fourth quarter. Arkansas would score twice in the fourth however including a short field score following a successful on-side kick to take the spread win.