4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Oct. 2-3
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 first weekend of October in 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.
Florida (-15½) 38, South Carolina 24: This game was tie 14-14 well into the second quarter but the Gators would score the next 24 points to lead 38-14 with just under five minutes to go in the third quarter. South Carolina would earn a long field goal at the end of the third and then got an early fourth quarter interception. A pass interference call put the Gamecocks in range to score again and while they had to convert two 4th downs before cashing in, they eventually delivered to cut the margin to 10 points with just over 10 minutes remaining. Florida wouldn’t threaten while South Carolina would convert two more 4th downs to compile 74 yards on its final drive but without adding points.
West Virginia (+2) 27, Baylor 21: Baylor scored with just over a minute remaining to force overtime with a 14-14 tie in a rare defensive battle in the Big XII. Turnovers were a factor in keeping points off the board more than great defense however. In overtime West Virginia went first and opted to go for it on 4th-and-1 rather than kicking field goal, with that decision paying off with a touchdown on the next play. Baylor scored on its first play to match the Mountaineers at 21-21. The 2nd OT drive for Baylor lasted just one play as well with Charlie Brewer intercepted. West Virginia needed only four plays to find the end zone to complete the minor upset, posting a solid production edge but surviving four turnovers.
TCU (+10½) 33, Texas 31 (62): The Horned Frogs delivered another upset in this series but there was late drama for many on the total with a price that swung anywhere from 59½ to 63½ depending when and where it was played. In a back-and-forth 4th quarter the Frogs went up by four with four minutes to go putting the scoring at 62. Texas appeared ready to take the lead but would eventually fumble on 1st-and-goal from the TCU 1-yard-line to wind up still short on the scoreboard. TCU was in a dangerous position but got a huge run on 3rd-and-7 for some breathing room. TCU would face a 4th down still pinned deep and opted to take a safety after running the clock out, putting the scoring from 62 to 64.
SMU (-2) 30, Memphis 27: SMU went from the underdog to the favorite in this game and that shift appeared accurate with a 24-3 edge early in the second quarter. Memphis would rally with back-to-back long touchdown drives and a 56-yard field goal before halftime to trail by only four. SMU would have to settle for a short field goal on its first possession in the second half and Memphis was able to tie the game with an 87-yard touchdown drive completed late in the third. SMU appeared poised to go back in front, but the Mustangs fumbled in the red zone. The offenses disappeared from there with each team having consecutive punts. Memphis eventually crossed midfield with under three minutes to go but Brady White fumbled on a sack and SMU was able to convert a 3rd-and-11 to set-up a field goal with nine seconds left.
Kansas State (+1) 31, Texas Tech 21: Kansas State led 17-7 late in the third quarter, flipped from a slight favorite to a closing line underdog coming off last week’s big win over Oklahoma. Texas Tech put together back-to-back long touchdown drives to lead 21-17 with 11 minutes to go but Kansas State needed only three plays to go back in front with a 24-21 edge at the 10-minute mark. The Red Raiders were a threat to answer but Henry Colombi was intercepted in the end zone. Both teams had to punt on subsequent possessions and facing 3rd down with just over two minutes remaining Kansas State connected for a 70-yard touchdown to put the game away. Texas Tech had a significant yardage edge in a game where both teams had to replace their injured starting quarterbacks.
Florida Atlantic (-5) 21, Charlotte 17: The Owls trailed 10-0 at halftime but scored three touchdowns in a span of just over six minutes in the third quarter to lead 21-0. Charlotte would convert a 4th down and add a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to trail by only six and then stopped FAU going for it on 4th-and-1 in the red zone. Looking for a late score to win the 49ers reached the FAU 16-yard-line in the final minute but took back-to-back sacks and came a few yards short on 4th-and-15 to end the game.
Iowa State (+7½) 37, Oklahoma 30: Looking to bounce back from last week’s upset the Sooners had a 17-6 lead not even 20 minutes into this game. Iowa State would complete a long drive before halftime to stay in it and then was in front by the end of the third quarter 23-20. The Sooners appeared to get it together scoring the first 10 points of the final frame to lead by seven on a spread that bounced between 7 and 7½. A huge kickoff return for the Cyclones changed that equation and after a pass interference call Iowa State was in the end zone to tie the game. Oklahoma and new quarterback Spencer Rattler looked rattled with an ugly drive that included a penalty and a sack and the Sooners had to punt with six minutes to go and the score tied. The Cyclones took full advantage of their rising momentum with a four-play touchdown drive to lead by seven. Oklahoma would have a new set of downs with about a minute to go from the Iowa State 34 but for the second straight week, Rattler suffered a late interception as the Sooners are now 0-2 in the Big XII.
Western Kentucky (-7) 20, Middle Tennessee State 17: This game was tied at 10-10 at halftime and the Hilttoppers took a 13-10 lead late in the third quarter with a 53-yard field goal. A productive MTSU drive across midfield ended in a punt for a touchback and after matching 3-and-outs Tyrrell Pigrome led a great drive for Western Kentucky taking more than six minutes off the clock in a 13-play effort. A 4th down conversion was included as Pigrome eventually connected for a touchdown pass to put the Hilltoppers up 10 and past the favorite spread with six minutes remaining. Asher O’Hara and the Blue Raiders have disappointed this season but after getting a 4th down conversion via penalty and another on an O’Hara rush, the Bluer Raiders punched in the spread-stealing score with just over two minutes to go.
LSU (-21) 41, Vanderbilt 7: LSU rebounded with a 21-7 edge at halftime but the underdog stayed in the game as the Tigers settled for two 3rd quarter field goals, leading by 20. Another field goal seemed possible before Myles Brennan hit a 29-yard touchdown strike to put the Tigers past the number. Vanderbilt was in position to answer reaching the LSU 6-yard-line with a new set of downs but on 2nd down Ken Seals was intercepted in a crushing blow for those taking the points. With relative ease and still throwing often with a big lead, LSU went down the field to make it a 41-7 game, where the final score held, keeping a total of right around 50 just ‘under’ as well.
Georgia Southern (-18½) 35, UL-Monroe 30: Neither the spread or the total was impacted with a wild finish in this Sun Belt clash but it was a noteworthy final few seconds, and surely a few people had attractive moneyline tickets on the big underdog. Georgia Southern led 35-17 late in the third but back-to-back scores put the Warhawks within five, missing a PAT on the first of those two touchdowns. Down five, UL-M would have the ball back with about two minutes remaining and Colby Suits would lead the team into scoring range. He converted a 4th-and-6 with his legs and then on the game’s final play he scampered to the goal line stopped just short. Time ticked away and the offense wasn’t able to clock it in time to continue while no review was called for.
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