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 full schedule weekend 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.
Louisiana-Lafayette (-2) 24, UAB 20 (49½): Riding a long home winnings streak UAB led 20-10 late in the third quarter but the Ragin’ Cajuns scored with 20 seconds left in the third quarter to climb within three. UAB had to punt on its opening drive of the fourth quarter and Louisiana turned in an excellent 14-play drive to go 86 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. UAB appeared to be a threat to answer but Bryson Lucero was intercepted at the 18-yard-line and while the UAB defense held, Lucero would be intercepted again in the final opportunity for the Blazers.
Wisconsin (-19) 45, Illinois 7 (51): A sparkling starting debut for Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz had the Badgers up 28-7 at halftime with the only Illinois touchdown coming on a fumble return. Illinois would stay in the mix after a scoreless third quarter before Wisconsin added another touchdown to lead 35-7 in the final frame. Wisconsin melted another seven minutes of clock rushing the ball on its next possession to go up 42-7 while any hopes for the ‘over’ seemed to hinge on Illinois putting a final drive together. With four minutes remaining backup quarterback Isaiah Williams was intercepted and Wisconsin wasn’t quite able to drain the remaining clock, ultimately kicking a 19-yard field goal in the final minute to flip the total result for many.
Coastal Carolina (-1) 28, Georgia Southern 14 (49): Quarterback Grayson McCall was a Saturday morning scratch for undefeated and ranked Coastal Carolina and the line shot downward several points. Backup Fred Payton started much of last season and was productive though both teams had missed opportunities in the first half as Payton had two interceptions while Georgia Southern missed a field goal. A punt return touchdown helped Georgia Southern enter halftime tied 14-14. Both offenses sputtered in the second half with a scoreless third quarter before Coastal Carolina finally cashed in with a big pass play to lead 21-14 with about nine minutes remaining, past a favorite spread that reached -6 on Friday before spiraling downward. Later a 40-yard punt return sparked the Chanticleers for a short field score to go up by 14 before Georgia Southern would be stopped on downs near midfield. In its final opportunity Georgia Southern quarterback Shai Werts had his second interception of the game, matching his total from the previous two seasons combined.
Ohio State (-27½) 52, Nebraska 17 (70): A Nebraska touchdown two minutes into the game offered promise for the heavy underdog but a few minutes into the third quarter Ohio State had taken a 38-14 lead on a defensive score. Nebraska was still covering entering the fourth down by 21 but Ohio State would add another touchdown to lead by 28 and many on the ‘over’ got a late gift as the Buckeyes added a touchdown with 18 seconds left with reserves in the game rather than taking a knee. Ryan Day apologized to Nebraska after the game but the score pushed the scoring to 69, short of the closing number but a winner for plenty on the rise from an opener of 64½.
Auburn (-3½) 35, Mississippi 28 (73): This SEC West clash provided one of the better games of the weekend as these teams were knotted at 14-14 at halftime and 21-21 through three. Auburn struck first in the fourth and went for two, coming up short to lead 27-21. Mississippi answered with a long touchdown drive to take the lead with just over five minutes remaining. Both teams punted on their next possessions before the often-criticized Bo Nix got the ball back with fewer than three minutes remaining on the Auburn 20. He took a sack on first down but delivered a nice gain on the next play and a few plays later connected to Seth Williams for a 58-yard score. Auburn hit the conversion to Williams to lead by seven. Matt Corral and Mississippi had a decent late opportunity to answer eventually getting two plays from the Auburn 29 before a final toss to the end zone was intercepted.
Charlotte (-17) 38, UTEP 28 (49½): This game was tied 14-14 at halftime and Charlotte added a short field touchdown in the third to lead 21-14. The 49ers added a field goal early in the fourth to lead by 10 as the ‘under’ pace held before a flurry of scoring in the final five minutes. UTEP took a sack going for it on 4th down and Charlotte added a touchdown to seemingly put the game away leading by 17 but UTEP answered quickly to get back within 10. Charlotte needed only one play to score again after a failed onside kick and a penalty as the 49ers went back up by 17. UTEP would deliver for the underdog in the final minute hitting a touchdown on 3rd-and-long to keep the final margin to 10 points.
Indiana (+7) 36, Penn State 35 (61½): Indiana led much of this game, up 17-7 at halftime and 20-14 late in the fourth quarter despite Penn State ultimately posting a 488-211 edge in yardage. Down six Penn State had a punt and a failed fourth down on a pair of series before connecting for a 60-yard touchdown pass with 2:30 remaining, going up by one with the PAT. The Hoosiers had no choice but to go for it on 4th-and-21 after Michael Penix was sacked twice and Penn State seemingly had won the game with an incompletion. On first down Devyn Ford rushed into the end zone when taking a knee short of the end zone would have ended the game. Penn State opted to kick the PAT after the score, going up eight past the favorite spread but with the door open for Indiana to match it. The Hoosiers did just that going 75 yards in seven plays and then sneaking into the end zone for the two-point conversion to tie the game. The Hoosiers nearly gave the game away with a brutal kickoff that went only 14 yards and Penn State had a 57-yard field goal attempt miss narrowly at the end of regulation. Penn State delivered a touchdown on third down going first in overtime while Indiana did the same. The Hoosiers opted to for two and the result was Penix scrambling to the corner and diving with the ball stretched out to the pylon. The conversion was ruled successful on the field and while on replay the ball did hit down before connecting the pylon there was not enough room to say it didn’t certainly cross the plane and the Hoosiers kept the two points and the win. Those on the ‘over’ also lucked out with the late scoring and overtime result as the total points were at 34 in the final three minutes of the game and at 56 at the end of regulation.
Purdue (+3½) 24, Iowa 20 (52½): Jeff Brohm was unable to get Nick Saban’s magic elixir and did not coach this game but his team battled back from a 20-14 4th quarter deficit. A 13-play drive reached 4th-and-9 with about eight minutes remaining and Purdue opted to kick for three to half the deficit to just three points, which for the moment was fine for those on the Boilers +3½. Iowa picked up a pair of first down and seemed poised to drain further clock but a 13-yard-gain ended in a fumble in Purdue territory. The Boilermakers converted a pair of third downs along the way and then on 3rd-and-5 with just over two minutes remaining Aidan O’Connell found the end zone with an Iowa stop on the play likely meaning overtime with a field goal try. Iowa approached midfield with a nice first down gain but ended its possessions with four straight incomplete passes.
Oklahoma State (-3) 24, Iowa State 21 (53½): As expected Spencer Sanders returned for Oklahoma State and the Cowboys never trailed in this game for the Big XII lead. Iowa State answered each of the first two scores as the game was tied 14-14 in the third quarter but after a 66-yard Breece Hall run tied the game, Sanders delivered a score not even two minutes later. Oklahoma State added a field goal in the fourth quarter to lead by 10 and forced a pair of punts to effectively end the game. Iowa State would get the ball back with about three minutes to go and made the most of the opportunity eventually cashing in with a 20-yard touchdown pass in the final minute. The PAT made it a three-point final, meaning a push for many but a win for those Iowa State early in the week or a win for a few folks that caught -2½ on Oklahoma State during brief periods Friday night or Saturday morning.
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