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Fiesta Bowl Preview

Fiesta Bowl CFP Semifinal – Dec. 28

Clemson and Ohio State meet in Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl in a pairing of undefeated teams for the College Football Playoff semifinals. Both teams are far from home in Glendale but both programs have College Football Playoff Championships in the five years of the existence of the playoff format and this is perhaps the most highly anticipated game of the bowl season as dominant 13-0 programs face off.

Match-up: Clemson Tigers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

Venue: At State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona

Time/TV: Saturday, December 28, 8:00 PM ET ESPN

Line: Clemson -2, Over/Under 63

Last Meeting: 12/31/2016 Fiesta Bowl CFP Semifinals Clemson (+1) 31, Ohio State 0    

Three seasons ago these teams met in this same stadium in the 2/3 matchup of College Football Playoffs. The spread was nearly even and Clemson delivered a blowout win 31-0 with a huge production edge of 470-215. Deshaun Watson and J.T. Barrett had a pair of interceptions each but the Clemson running game had a clear edge while the Tigers were able to hit a few big plays in the air. Clemson would go on to beat Alabama in the championship game for the first of now two titles for Dabo Swinney.

Clemson also beat Ohio State in the 2013-14 Orange Bowl a year before the playoff format and Clemson enters this game on a 29-game winning streak, completing a perfect 15-0 championship season last year and this year again unblemished with only one close call back in late September in Chapel Hill with a one-point escape.

The Tigers didn’t look like a dominant team early in the season as coming off brilliant championship performance last season, quarterback Trevor Lawrence battled interceptions early in the season. The Tigers closed the season on a dominant run with Lawrence combining for 16 touchdowns and no interceptions in the final five games of the season. 1,500-yard rusher Travis Etienne has often been overlooked despite an amazing 8.2 yards per carry average this season as the Tigers scored 605 points this season for more than 46 points per game.

Clemson is the #3 seed however having played through a light ACC schedule and high-quality wins are absent from the schedule with the best results coming over 7-5 Texas A&M, 9-4 Virginia, 8-4 Wake Forest, 7-5 Louisville, and 6-6 North Carolina. The Tigers did technically beat seven bowl teams when you add Charlotte and Boston College to the mix but behind Clemson it was a clear down year for the ACC. The Tigers beat two SEC teams but Texas A&M and South Carolina both had disappointing seasons and like many ACC teams, Clemson also played a FCS foe to pad the numbers.

Swinney is 9-5 S/U and 10-4 ATS in his bowl and playoff games but after starting 1-3 S/U and ATS the Tigers have been on a roll in the postseason under his watch with the only ATS loss in that span being the 2017-18 Sugar Bowl vs. the eventual national champion Alabama. Clemson has actually been an underdog in nine of the past 10 postseason games with the lone exception last season’s 30-3 win over undefeated Notre Dame in the semifinals.

In contrast to Swinney’s amazing resume, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day will be a head coach for the first time in a postseason game. Day filled in for Urban Meyer for three wins early last season and is now 16-0 as a head coach for the Buckeyes for an amazing start to his career. Day has only been with the program since 2017 as an assistant with past experience in the NFL as well as with Temple and Boston College. Despite his success, his first season will ultimately be judged on this game alone with the Buckeyes back into the playoffs after narrowly missing out as Big Ten champions the past two seasons.

Controversially Ohio State was flipped from the #1 seed in the playoff rankings to the #2 seed, passed up by LSU following the respective Big Ten and SEC championship wins. LSU was more impressive vs. a higher rated foe on championship Saturday but Ohio State’s overall resume bested LSU’s in many of the counts that the selection committee values.

On championship Saturday four teams that Ohio State defeated in the regular season were playing in championship games as the Buckeyes wound up with nine wins over bowl teams. Ohio State was penalized for a poor first half vs. Wisconsin in Indianapolis as well as not getting as much credit for beating a highly regarded Wisconsin team twice compared to if they defeated two distinct similarly highly rated teams. Ultimately Ohio State has five wins over teams rated higher in the playoff rankings than Clemson’s best win over #24 Virginia, including four wins vs. the top 14.

Day was not the only new piece for the Buckeyes, led by Georgia transfer Justin Fields at quarterback. Fields left Georgia last season after not getting a great opportunity behind Jake Fromm. In his first season as a starting quarterback he delivered an incredible campaign finishing third in the Heisman voting with an amazing line of 40 touchdowns and one interception while also rushing for nearly 500 yards. J.K. Dobbins eclipsed 1,800 yards rushing and along with star defensive end Chase Young, that trio comprised half of the top six in the Heisman voting. Ohio State outscored foes 633-163 on the season with dominant numbers, though the defense allowed 17 or more points in each of the final four games following seven straight games allowing 14 or fewer points.

Ohio State has not been an underdog in the postseason since winning the initial College Football Playoff championship game 42-20 vs. Oregon in January 2015. The Buckeyes have been the Rose Bowl champion the past two seasons and this is the first playoff trip since the ugly loss in Glendale vs. Clemson.

Ohio State has been an underdog six times since the start of the 2012 season going 6-0 S/U and ATS including winning 62-39 vs. Michigan last season in the only instance getting points since the 2014-15 national championship. Clemson has rarely been in the small favorite role under Swinney going 4-5 S/U and 3-6 ATS as a favorite of 3 or fewer points, though all but one of those games was a regular season contest.

Clemson wound up 10-3 ATS this season including 10-2 ATS in FBS games, going 7-0 ATS in FBS games since October started for an incredible run, as a lot of folks fared well supporting the Tigers even at inflated prices including a 30-point spread in the ACC Championship. Ohio State wound up 9-4 ATS this season but lost ATS in three of the final four games including missing the spread in big games vs. Penn State and in the Big Ten championship after an 8-0 ATS run September to early November, with the Buckeyes also faring extremely well in first half numbers.

The victor of this game will head to New Orleans for the national championship in what could be a very hostile environment depending on the Peach Bowl outcome but either team will be a serious threat for the title as this semifinal figures to live up to the billing and hype as one of the best playoff pairings in the history of the format.

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NFL Close Calls Wk15

NFL Close Calls – Week 15

12/16/2019

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 or total in the fourth quarter last week in Week 15 of the NFL regular season including two late defensive scores that made a great impact.

Baltimore Ravens (-17) 42, New York Jets 21 (44): The Ravens wrapped up this game with a 35-7 edge through three quarters but a blocked punt touchdown in the fourth put the Jets back in the conversation against the heavy underdog spread. A touchdown halfway through the fourth put the Jets within 21 after a successful two-point conversion and New York got the ball back at midfield with still five minutes remaining. On 4th-and-1 a Sam Darnold throw fell incomplete and Baltimore was able to run out the remaining clock with Robert Griffin III in the game.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6) 38, Detroit Lions 17 (46): The Buccaneers stormed out to a 21-0 lead in this game but the Lions slowly climbed back in the picture, completing a long touchdown drive on the first play of the fourth quarter to trail by only seven on a spread that climbed as high as +6 by kickoff. Tampa Bay missed a field goal on its next possession as the Lions were a live upset threat but with about five minutes remaining David Blough was intercepted with a 70-yard return for a touchdown. The Lions had to go for it on 4th down short of midfield on its next drive and the Buccaneers added another score to pull away for a somewhat misleading 21-point final margin. Three fourth quarter touchdowns also shifted a possible ‘under’ with 34 points through three quarters to a clear ‘over’.

Philadelphia Eagles (-6½) 37, Washington Redskins 27 (38): The Redskins led at halftime and erased a three-point deficit through three quarters with an early fourth quarter touchdown run from Adrian Peterson for a four-point lead as a home underdog. The fourth quarter would feature 33 points to soar ‘over’ the total and Philadelphia was able to set-up next week’s NFC East clash by going in front with 26 seconds to go, leading by four for the largest lead of the game for the Eagles. That would change with no time on the clock however as in desperation mode just across midfield an attempted lateral wound up going the other way for a late Eagles touchdown to flip the spread result.

Green Bay Packers (-4½) 21, Chicago Bears 13 (40½): After a low-scoring first half the Packers went in front 21-3 with two third quarter scores. The Bears added a field goal early in the fourth and later a touchdown while forcing five consecutive Green Bay punts with only one first down allowed. Down eight the Bears had three late possessions ending in an interception, stopped on downs in Green Bay territory with a failed pass interference challenge, and then delivering an incredible final play that nearly shifted the spread and total results and could have sent the game to overtime. The Bears had one second on the clock from the Green Bay 34-yard-line and opted for a short pass rather than a deep throw to the end zone. Against loose coverage Tarik Cohen had a lateral back to Mitchell Trubisky who sent the ball to Jesper Horsted who rumbled inside the 10-yard-line. Horsted failed to send the ball back one more time even with two Bears with an opening down the sideline in what could have been a score for Chicago to set-up a possible tying two-point conversion.

Houston Texans (+3) 24, Tennessee Titans 21 (50½): The Texans had a 14-0 lead in the huge AFC North contest with some big momentum swings early in this game. Deshaun Watson was intercepted for a touchback on the opening drive but Houston would block a field goal attempt for a scoreless first quarter. The play of the game was a deflected Ryan Tannehill pass to the edge of the end zone deflecting for an interception and an 86-yard return to set-up a Houston touchdown. Up 14-0 Houston stopped the Titans on downs later in the first half but Tennessee managed to score back-to-back touchdowns to tie the game around an interception of Watson in the end zone to thwart another scoring opportunity. Houston would respond with a touchdown on the next drive and later a field goal to lead by 10 but Tennessee added a score just ahead of the two-minute-warning to stay in play while keeping those on the ‘over’ in the mix for a late miracle. The Titans wouldn’t get the ball back until just 17 seconds remained and Ryan Tannehill was sacked to end the threat, narrowly avoiding a potential defensive score.

Seattle Seahawks (-6) 30, Carolina Panthers 24 (49): The Seahawks seemed to be in complete control going up 30-10 with about seven minutes remaining in the game. Those on the ‘over’ and taking the points found late life however with the Panthers scoring with about five minutes remaining on a Christian McCaffrey run while the defense then forced a quick 3-and-out. Just over minute later the Panthers were in the end zone again to send the total ‘over’ while allowing many Carolina tickets to be cashed at +6½. The scoring stopped there as Seattle was able to take a knee to eventually burn over three minutes of clock, moving to the #1 spot in the NFC.

New York Giants (-3½) 36, Miami Dolphins 20 (46½): The Dolphins trailed by one late in the third quarter despite botching two early scoring opportunities with a missed field goal while being stopped on downs at the 10-yard-line as well. A false start pinned Miami deep and a safety followed while the Giants got a good kickoff return and scored a few plays later to turn a one-point edge into a 10-point edge in quick order. Miami’s offense disappeared from there and the Giants pulled away while a 10-7 game at halftime turned into a clear ‘over’ with 39 second half points.

Buffalo Bills (+1) 17, Pittsburgh Steelers 10 (37): The Steelers led 10-7 through three quarters as a very slight favorite but the second of eventually four Devlin Hodges interceptions handed the Bills a field goal to tie the game. Buffalo didn’t have a productive offensive game but Josh Allen led the Bills 70 yards in six plays in the middle of the fourth quarter with Buffalo surviving a fumble in the red zone. Down seven the Steelers had a new set of downs at the Buffalo 26-yard line with three minutes to go but went backwards with a penalty and a sack before a fourth down interception in the end zone. Hodges would be intercepted in the end zone again in the final seconds as the Bills defense came through to send Buffalo into the postseason.

Jacksonville Jaguars (+6½) 20, Oakland Raiders 16 (46½): Oakland appeared to have a good sendoff underway with a 16-3 lead at halftime though settling for three short field goals left the door open. The Jaguars added three in the final seconds of the third quarter to trail by 10 before the Raiders offense faltered in the fourth with a costly sack near midfield forcing a punt and then a missed field goal. The Jaguars would get two touchdowns from Gardner Minshew to Chris Conley with the go-ahead score coming with only 31 seconds to go. Oakland got a 33-yard pass interference call to have a reasonable shot late but the final two deep throws fell incomplete.

Atlanta Falcons (+10) 29, San Francisco 49ers 22 (49): The score was just 13-10 through three quarters in favor of the 49ers with the underdog points and the ‘under’ looking safe. San Francisco would score with 10 minutes remaining but missed the PAT in a key play with +10 a common number late in the week in this game. That wound up not mattering as the Falcons scored a touchdown with five minutes to go and San Francisco added a field goal after the two-minute warning for a five-point margin. Atlanta had a touchdown called back on review in the final seconds but on the final play Matt Ryan hit Julio Jones right at the goal line. Ruled short on the field, review gave Atlanta the score for the win. The Falcons did not add the conversion to lead 23-22 as the ‘under’ held but a disastrous 49ers kickoff return lateral situation after time expired would result in a fumble recovery in the end zone as Atlanta added six more points and the ‘over’ was cleared.

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Bobby Dalton wins Eliminator

The 2019 Eliminator Contest is complete!

Each handicapper submits two selections each week, a single 1-point play and a double 2-point play. Each contestant is awarded points for losses and eliminated at 10 points.

The 2019 ELIMINATOR CONTEST IS COMPLETED – Congratulations to Bobby Dalton!

CLICK HERE for the 2019 Eliminator Final Standings

The Double Plays can be purchased for just $9 each week, or for $50 for the duration of the contest! 

Bobby Dalton takes the title going 16-6, to beat Weekly Wizard in Week 11! Dalton won his single play last week with the Buffalo Bills and that was enough for this year’s title in the final week. Weekly Wizard had another great showing with a runner-up finish after winning the title last season. Rocketman Sports also had a great campaign lasting 10 weeks to finish third.

Thank you to all the handicappers for participating and thanks for following along this season!

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4Q Covers NCAA Wk 13

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 13

11/24/2019

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.

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Wk11 NFL Close Calls

NFL Close Calls – Week 11

11/19/2019

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 or total in the fourth quarter last week in Week 11 of the NFL regular season.

Dallas Cowboys (-7) 35, Detroit Lions 27 (46½): The Lions would not go away in this game as a 10-point halftime lead for Dallas fell to three points and the Cowboys led by just six after setting for a short field goal. With eight minutes to go Dallas got a touchdown and a two-point conversion to lead by 14 to seemingly put the game away but Detroit answered quickly and the spread result hinged on a two-point conversion try with the Lions unable to convert to leave the margin at eight and in favor of the popular road favorite.

New Orleans Saints (-5) 34, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17 (50½): The Saints had a 27-10 lead late in the third quarter but the Buccaneers would wind up with a 30-yard touchdown pass to close to within 10. The total sat ‘under’ with 44 points through three consecutive punts. With five minutes remaining Tampa Bay opted to go for it on 4th-and-10 and Jameis Winston was intercepted with a 55-yard return touchdown for Marcus Williams of the Saints sealing the ‘over’ and the road favorite cover.

New York Jets (+1) 37, Washington Redskins 17 (37½): A 20-3 score at halftime didn’t look great for the ‘under’ with a total that dropped below 38 but a scoreless third quarter gave life to that wager. The Jets scored early in the fourth and then off a turnover added another touchdown just a minute later to put the scoring at 37. Washington put up more than half of its yardage for the game in the final 12 minutes eventually adding two touchdowns to clear the ‘over’ comfortably.

San Francisco 49ers (-10) 36, Arizona Cardinals 26 (44): The Cardinals had a hot start with a 16-0 edge but would produce minimal yardage the rest of the game following their first four drives. That allowed the 49ers to get back in the game San Francisco took a 23-19 edge early in the fourth quarter but missed on the two-point conversion. Arizona would go back in front to seemingly lock up the underdog cover at a double-digit price that fell dramatically from its opening. The 49ers would score with 31 seconds left to lock up the win and then on a final desperation play San Francisco grabbed the loose ball for a touchdown as time expired. Under the rules changed ahead of last season teams don’t need to attempt the PAT as the margin stayed right at 10 for a common push.

New England Patriots (-4) 17, Philadelphia Eagles 10 (44½): The Eagles led 10-0 in this game but the Patriots had three field goals in the final nine minutes before halftime to trail by one. Out of halftime the Patriots delivered a touchdown pass from Julian Edelman and not Tom Brady and 10 consecutive punts followed. Philadelphia reached the New England 26-yard-line in the final two minutes but Carson Wentz ended the threat with four consecutive incomplete passes including a near touchdown drop on 4th down as holding Tom Brady to no touchdowns and the Patriots to fewer than 300 yards still wasn’t enough for the home underdog cover.

Los Angeles Rams (-5) 17, Chicago Bears 7 (40): The Rams led 10-0 at halftime but the Bears were able to complete a 12-play drive for seven halfway through the third quarter. Eight straight punts followed before the Rams connected for a 51-yard touchdown that was wiped out with a formation penalty. Six plays later Los Angeles was able to convert from 1st-and-goal to get past the home favorite price and Chicago behind Chase Daniel managed only six yards on its final possession.

Kansas City Chiefs (-5½) 24, Los Angeles Chargers 17 (52½): The Chargers moved the ball well in the first half Monday night in Mexico City but settled for three field goals. An interception set up a 6-yard touchdown drive for the Chiefs for a 10-9 edge at the break. The scoring pace escalated in the third quarter as Kansas City scored touchdowns on its first two drives to lead 24-9 but the Chargers answered late in the third and got the two-point conversion to trail by just seven. The scoring stalled with five consecutive punts to start the fourth quarter. Philip Rivers threw his third interception to seemingly hand the Chiefs points with just over four minutes remaining but Kansas City wasn’t able to quite get into field goal range and punted to pin the Chargers inside the 10. Rivers converted a 4th down in the two-minute drill and reached the Kansas City 14-yard-line looking to tie the game but interception #4 came with 18 seconds to go as Kansas City and the ‘under’ both held on.

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4Q Covers Week 12

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 12

11/16/2019

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 12th 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.

Western Michigan (PK) 37, Ohio 34: Western Michigan led 10-0 at halftime but Ohio took a 14-10 lead eight minutes into the third quarter. A back-and-forth finish followed with the game eventually knotted 24-24 with 10 minutes to go. Western Michigan put together a touchdown drive to lead by seven and then stopped Ohio inside the 10-yard-line to seemingly wrap up the game. The Bobcats still had all three timeouts however and got the ball back with 47 seconds to work with. Nathan Rourke delivered four straight completions to find the end zone with nine seconds to go and the Bobcats opted to kick to play overtime. Ohio had to settle for a field goal going first in the extra session and in just three plays the Broncos got the win with a touchdown.

Northern Illinois (+1½) 31, Toledo 28: The Huskies were in command with a 28-7 edge through three quarters but Toledo put a scoring drive together to cut the margin to 14 points. A botched punt attempt provided the break the Rockets needed to get back in the game, inheriting great field position and closing the margin to seven points two plays later. Toledo would force another punt on defense and went 91 yards to tie the game with about five minutes remaining. The slight underdog Huskies were able to milk most of the clock and come away with the go-ahead field goal in the final minute and the Rockets ran out of time despite eventually reaching the 26-yard-line.

Kent State (+6½) 30, Buffalo 27: The Bulls had a commanding 27-6 edge in the fourth quarter before Kent State turned in perhaps the comeback of the season. The Flashes scored two touchdowns in the span of 27 seconds of game clock in the middle of the fourth quarter thanks to an onside kick recovery. The Flashes were set to get the ball back quickly after forcing a 3-and-out and did even better, blocking the punt to start at the 4-yard-line. Despite the field position it came down to 4th-and-goal but Dustin Crum got the completion for the tying score. Buffalo again was held to a punt and now with a chance to win Kent State had possession with about two minutes remaining, getting the 44-yard field goal as time expired after consecutive timeouts.

Pittsburgh (-4½) 34, North Carolina 27: The Panthers had a 24-10 edge into the fourth quarter but the Tar Heels hit a few big plays to quickly tie the game. Slowing down the pace Pittsburgh drained nearly seven minutes off the clock before kicking a field goal that wasn’t going to be enough against the home favorite spread. The Tar Heels reached the red zone late in the game but went backwards and facing 4th-and-12, kicked for overtime. Pittsburgh was backed up but converted on 3rd-and-14 and eventually scored seven going first in overtime, allowing for the favorite to have a shot to still cover. North Carolina converted 4th-and-4 on its overtime possession but took a sack and was left with 4th-and-16 and the final throw fell incomplete.

Northwestern (-38) 45, Massachusetts 6: This game got a bit more coverage than it deserved based on the oddity of the line with the low-scoring Wildcats a massive favorite. The line climbed as high as -41½ on a Northwestern team that had scored 100 total points over the first nine games. The first touchdown came on a field goal block as the Wildcats didn’t score on offense until 22 minutes into the game and stayed well short of the spread through three quarters with a 24-6 edge. Northwestern would take over in the fourth quarter however with three consecutive touchdowns incredibly giving the Wildcats as a 39-point edge with just over five minutes remaining to slip past the opening and closing numbers though there were plenty of successful UMass tickets in the middle. The Minutemen were a threat to spoil it but only could reach the Northwestern 6-yard-line on the final play as time expired.

UAB (-14) 37, UTEP 10: The Blazers took a 23-0 lead in this game but UTEP got on the board just before halftime and by the early fourth quarter had closed to within 20 points, or a touchdown short of covering. The Miners reached UAB territory on its next drive but opted to go for it on 4th-and-7 and fell incomplete. UAB didn’t look like a threat to add points but on 3rd-and-long connected for a 40-yard touchdown to make a late UTEP drive inside the UAB 5-yard-line meaningless. 

Oklahoma State (-18) 31, Kansas 13: The Cowboys cruised to a comfortable win over Kansas and led 31-0 through three quarters. The Jayhawks didn’t go away however with a touchdown halfway through the fourth quarter after an Oklahoma State field goal miss, but an unsuccessful 2-point try kept Kansas down by 25. Oklahoma State went 51 yards on its next drive but still wound up punting and Kansas was able to put another touchdown in with just over a minute to go, bringing the margin to 19. The Jayhawks kicked this time and the 18-point final matched the closing spread though -17 or -17½ remained common numbers that still cashed.

TCU (-4) 33, Texas Tech 31: An early 17-0 edge for TCU disappeared with a 27-16 margin at halftime and Texas Tech leading 28-27 through three quarters. The spread consistently climbed higher for the road team throughout the week after opening with the Red Raiders as a one-point favorite at some outlets. Field goals were exchanged early in the fourth quarter, then TCU burned a significant amount of clock and reached the Texas Tech 4-yard-line before offensive pass interference pushed the Frogs back. Ultimately TCU had to settle for a short go-ahead field goal rather than a touchdown that could have cleared the favorite spread. After a pair of punts Texas Tech would get the ball back with two minutes to work with but fumbled away its opportunity on 1st down.

Wisconsin (-14) 37, Nebraska 21: The Cornhuskers came to play in this game but had a few tough breaks, allowing a kickoff return touchdown while also giving up a short field score after an interception as Wisconsin led 27-14 at halftime and 34-14 late in the third quarter despite Nebraska winding up with more yardage in the game and having little trouble moving the ball against the highly regarded Wisconsin defense. Nebraska snuck within the spread with a touchdown late in the third quarter to trail by 13 after missing a field goal earlier in the quarter but in the fourth quarter the Huskers had drives of 81 and 74 yards that both come up empty on 4th-and-goal failures. In-between those long scoreless efforts for Nebraska, Wisconsin added a field goal to win by 16.

Iowa (-3) 23, Minnesota 19: Iowa was in command in the first half with a 20-3 edge but Minnesota managed a field goal just before halftime and going first after the break the Gophers looked the part of a comeback threat with a quick touchdown to close to within seven. A long scoring drought on both sides followed and included what will be an infamous moment for P.J. Fleck as he was hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct call for running on to the field to check on injured player after a 4th down incompletion, eliminating leaving Iowa back inside its own 10-yard-line. Iowa eventually converted a short field goal to lead by 10 nearly midway through the fourth quarter. Minnesota answered with a touchdown to seemingly climb even with the underdog spread but the PAT was missed in a monumental play relative to the spread. The Gophers were able to get the ball back but Tanner Morgan took a second down sack and had to leave the game with an injury. Backup quarterback Cole Kramer stepped into a tough spot with a 3rd-and-21 incompletion and a 4th-and-21 interception as Iowa held on.

Central Michigan (+1) 45, Ball State 44: The Cardinals led 27-11 at halftime and still led by 10 entering the fourth quarter. Central Michigan proved up to the task however with an early touchdown in the fourth quarter offset only by a field goal for a six-point deficit for the Chippewas. Getting the ball back with about five minutes to go, Quinten Dormady didn’t face great resistance leading a drive 72 yards in 10 plays before cashing in with a minute to go for the one-point edge. Drew Plitt wound up intercepted on 4th down for Ball State’s final opportunity as the slight underdog delivered the comeback win.

Utah State (-5) 26, Wyoming 21: The Aggies opened at -6½ but dipped to -4½ and even -3 by Saturday before a late rise to close back at -5 at some outlets. The timing wound up mattering as a 23-14 Utah State lead through three quarters was threatened. The Aggies went up by 12 with a field goal following an interception after just missing a field goal on their last drive. Wyoming answered with one of its best drives of the game to climb within five with fewer than seven minutes remaining. Utah State didn’t offer much of a threat to add points late while Wyoming’s final drive across midfield ended in an interception, the third of the day for a Cowboys team not accustomed to passing that often.

Georgia (-3) 21, Auburn 14: Auburn was kept off the board in the first half despite three drives into Georgia territory with a missed field goal, getting stopped on downs just outside of field goal range, and a fumble. Up 7-0 Georgia managed another score right before halftime to lead 14-0 and that became 21-0 with the help of a big personal foul call late in the third quarter. Auburn flipped a switch from there with two quick touchdowns and two 3-and-outs on defense and had the ball back across midfield with a chance to tie the game. A surprising replay overturn took a 1st down catch away from the Tigers and then two plays later Bo Nix missed a wide-open Harold Joiner in what would have been an easy 4th down conversion and likely a big gain. Auburn had timeouts and got the ball back with another chance in worse field position with nearly two minutes remaining but a facemask on Nix was ignored on the series and Auburn was eventually sacked on 4th down to seal the win for Georgia, who clinched the SEC East despite being held to only 251 total yards.

Iowa State (-7) 23, Texas 21: The Cyclones controlled this game but a 20-7 lead through three quarters was erased with two Texas touchdowns to suddenly put the Longhorns in the lead by one with about five minutes to go. Sam Ehlinger would get the ball back with about four minutes left after the Texas defense held but the Longhorns didn’t gain a yard before punting. Texas got hit with back-to-back pass interference calls as Iowa State looked to go back in front for 30 free yards early in the drive and then defensive offsides converted 4th-and-5 for the Cyclones. Eventually Iowa State burned the remaining clock and Connor Assalley hit the 36-yard field goal for the win but the late rally was enough for Longhorns backers.

Hawai’i (-6½) 21, UNLV 7: These teams were tied 7-7 until late in the third quarter and Cortez Davis gave the Warriors the lead with a 43-yard interception return touchdown. The Hawai’i offense added a score a few minutes later and then the defense got another interception to thwart a long UNLV drive. The Warriors then soaked up all the remaining clock with an 11-play drive to seal the win.

Washington State (-11) 49, Stanford 22: Washington State led 19-0 early in this game but Stanford remained competitive trailing 25-22 late in the third quarter. Both teams had big production totals his game but Washington State kept the scoring going, closing the game on a 24-0 run to boost the numbers and create a misleading final result with Stanford suffering two late interceptions.

Air Force (-10) 38, Colorado State 21: The Rams led 14-0 led by a defensive touchdown in the first quarter. Air Force would score 10 in the second quarter but the underdog Rams still led into the fourth quarter with a spread that reached +10½ at some outlets. Air Force took over in the final frame with a pair of scores to match the common spread with a 10-point advantage before Colorado State went 75 yards in two plays to stay in the game. Air Force scored with 2:32 to go to again make the margin 10 points and then as the Rams were poised to seal the underdog cover with a red zone opportunity, the Falcons got a 99-yard pick-six for the improbable road favorite cover.

Oregon State (+1) 35, Arizona State 34: A slight favorite all week Arizona state found itself down two scores in the second half after a short-field touchdown for the Beavers made it 35-21 late in the third quarter. It took fewer than two minutes for the Sun Devils to respond closing the margin to seven heading into the fourth. Scoring stalled from there with fumbles costing both teams scoring chances before Jayden Daniels led a 90-yard drive into the end zone. With 1:40 on the clock the Sun Devils opted to go for two but couldn’t convert as Oregon State narrowly held on.

Southern Miss (-17) 36, UTSA 17: Southern Miss allowed 422 yards to the Roadrunners in this game and led by only six late in the third quarter. A long run put the Golden Eagles up 12 heading into the fourth before five punts were traded between these teams. On a short field Southern Miss added a late touchdown to slip past the favorite spread and then had to hold off four UTSA plays from the 10-yard line with a late Roadrunners threat ending up empty.

LSU (-21½) 58, Mississippi 37: LSU continues to tantalize with its offense posting big numbers again but a now 4-7 Mississippi team put 614 yards up against allegedly the #1 team in the nation as the championship trophy shouldn’t be shipped to Baton Rouge just yet. LSU led 28-0 early in this game but Ole Miss made several charges back into the contest including trimming the margin down to 11 points late in the third quarter. The Tigers would push the margin back to 21 with about five minutes to go in the game but the Rebels would answer with another big play. LSU ran for a 49-yard score on the first play after recovering the onside kick and the game ultimately would end with Ole Miss barely hanging on to the heavy underdog cover as LSU took a knee at the 10-yard-line.

Oregon (-27) 34, Arizona 6: Arizona trailed by 22 heading into the fourth quarter as the defense kept Oregon in check respectably but the offense wasn’t able to take advantage of a Justin Herbert interception to add points in the fourth quarter. The Ducks connected for a 33-yard touchdown with about 10 minutes remaining to slip past the spread with a 28-point edge, even with a missed PAT. Arizona reached the red zone on the next possession but after converting a 4th down via penalty earlier in the drive, the Wildcats failed to come through on 4th down from the Oregon 13-yard-line. The Wildcats had another late drive into Oregon territory but couldn’t add points as Oregon managed to cover the nearly four-touchdown spread despite scoring only five touchdowns.

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NFL Close Calls Wk10

NFL Close Calls – Week 10

11/12/2019

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 or total in the fourth quarter last week in Week 10 of the NFL regular season including the epic Monday night affair in San Francisco.  

Oakland Raiders (+1) 26, Los Angeles Chargers 24 (49): The Raiders led 20-17 through three quarters after the Chargers settled for a 27-yard field goal late in the third quarter. The next Los Angeles drive started with a sack but eventually finished in the end zone while taking more than eight minutes off the clock. Down four, Oakland would need a touchdown and Derek Carr led the offense down the field without facing a 3rd down until 3rd-and-1 from the 18-yard-line with just over a minute remaining. Josh Jacobs would break through and go the distance to put Oakland up by two and incredibly Daniel Carlson missed the PAT to leave the Chargers a chance to win with a field goal. That touchdown also put the total just ‘over’ hovering from 47½ to 49 during the week. The Chargers could only pick up five yards before Philip Rivers wound up intercepted with 20 seconds to go on 4th-and-10, his third pick of the day for a 3-0 turnover edge for the Raiders in a two-point win.

Tennessee Titans (+5) 35, Kansas City Chiefs 32 (48½): Patrick Mahomes likely returning was already baked into this spread opening at -3 but Kansas City climbed all the way to -6 in Nashville with the confirmation of last season’s MVP returning. Mahomes did not disappoint with huge numbers and a 63-yard touchdown put the Chiefs up by nine in the fourth quarter. Tennessee answered with a five-minute drive to get within two and then held the Chiefs to a field goal, with Kansas City incredibly leading by five on a closing line of five despite that being a rather uncommon football margin. The Titans had to go for it on 4th-and-17 from their own 32 and failed but the Chiefs weren’t able to close out the game, taking a sack on 3rd-and-short. A bad snap botched a field goal attempt to keep the margin at five and gave the Titans great field goal position with still more than a minute to go. Ryan Tannehill delivered the go-ahead score for the Titans in just four plays and the two-point conversion put the Titans up three. Handed only 23 seconds Mahomes got the Chiefs 28 yards but a 52-yard kick to force overtime was then blocked by Joshua Kalu, with either perfect or uncalled early timing depending on your perspective.

Cleveland Browns (-3) 19, Buffalo Bills 16 (42): Cleveland led 9-7 at halftime after being unable to punch in several attempts near the goal line to prevent a larger lead, though Buffalo also missed a 34-yard field goal before the break. A safety tied the game in the third quarter but Cleveland got a field goal to lead by three on a spread of -3, though -2½ was available early in the week. A holding call for the Bills cost them a first down late in the third quarter and Buffalo went for it on 4th-and-4 and came up short on the final play of the third quarter. The Bills got a solid punt return a few minutes later to land near midfield and was able to get in the end zone after some close calls with a recovered fumble and then a touchdown brought back on review. Down four the Browns gave up a defensive touchdown but on a review Baker Mayfield’s fumble was overturned to an incomplete shovel pass. Shortly after the two-minute warning Cleveland connected for the go-ahead score to leave the margin at three. Buffalo got in position to force overtime but Stephen Hauschka missed left from 53 yards for a costly Bills defeat and a push for most on the spread.

New York Jets (+3) 34, New York Giants 27 (43): There were big scoring swings in this contest with a 14-0 lead for the Jets but the Giants scoring twice before the break. The Jets got a defensive score in the third quarter but the Giants put back-to-back touchdowns together and led 27-24 heading into the fourth, right even with the closing spread with a big move on this game from the Jets opening as a slight favorite. The Jets closed the game on a 13-0 run as a productive overall day from Daniel Jones and the Giants offense finished with four punts and a fumble for 25 net yards on its final five possessions combined.

Green Bay Packers (-4½) 24, Carolina Panthers 16 (49): The Panthers scored first in this game but the Packers took over in the second half to lead 24-10 heading into the third quarter with two scores around an interception in the end zone from Kyle Allen. The Panthers scored with about 12 minutes to go and went for two unsuccessfully to trail by eight. The defense did its part forcing two Green Bay punts and Allen led an 18-play drive going 88 yards in the final three minutes. The Panthers needed 89 however as after getting new life after a defensive penalty on 4th down, the Panthers wound up with an incomplete pass and then one final chance. Christian McCaffrey went up the middle and may have crossed the plane narrowly but amidst bodies and a snow covered field, the clear video evidence of the ball crossing the chalk wasn’t there as the Green Bay escaped and Panthers backers were left a few points short.

Chicago Bears (-6½) 20, Detroit Lions 13 (38): Matthew Stafford was ruled out Sunday morning as this line shot from as low as -2½ up to -7 before settling at -6½ with Jeff Driskel starting. It was 7-6 at halftime but Mitchell Trubisky led two scoring drives in the third quarter for a 14-point edge. The Lions were productive with a big yardage edge and scored with six minutes to go on a big play to climb within seven. The Lions failed on 4th-and-11 near midfield ahead of the two-minute warning but the Bears only could run off 32 seconds. Down at their own 10, the Lions were able to make Bears and ‘under’ backers quite nervous reaching the Chicago 25 in the final seconds but the defense held up.

Pittsburgh Steelers (+4) 17, Los Angeles Rams 12 (43½): The Rams had two interceptions to start the second half but held defensively both times. A field goal put Los Angeles within four and Aaron Donald added a safety early in the fourth quarter, sitting down two to leave the Rams with a path to cover the road favorite number with a touchdown. The Steelers converted a 4th-and-1 from their own 34 in a huge play in this outcome and then recovered their own fumble on the very next play for another close call. Eventually the Steelers were able to add a 33-yard field goal to lead by five with fewer than three minutes remaining to seal the underdog cover in most scenarios. The Rams had two late possessions but the first ended with a 4th down incomplete pass while Jared Goff had another interception on the final drive. The most impactful play of the game ultimately came just before halftime with Jared Goff ruled to have fumbled and Pittsburgh returning it 43 yards for a touchdown when an incomplete pass has often been called on similar throwing motions.

Minnesota Vikings (+3) 28, Dallas Cowboys 24 (48): A 14-0 first quarter lead for the Vikings was erased in the second quarter but Minnesota added field goals on both sides of halftime. Amari Cooper got a touchdown midway through the third to put Dallas up one but the Vikings answered with eight, going for it on 4th-and-goal and also hitting the two-point conversion. Dallas was not as aggressive in its answer kicking a field goal with 10 minutes remaining to trail by four. In the final minute of the game Dallas would again face 4th-and-5 and could not find the end zone. Minnesota didn’t do enough to run much clock off and Dallas had the ball back near midfield. A few quick gains made for a reasonable Hail Mary try that was ultimately intercepted.

Seattle Seahawks (+6½) 27, San Francisco 49ers 24 (47): Week 10 saved the best for last with a thrilling showcase game in the NFC West Monday night. The undefeated 49ers looked the part as the league’s top team with a 10-0 first quarter lead. The game turned late in the second quarter with a defensive touchdown for Seattle to climb within three despite the offense struggling. Seattle held to get the ball back before halftime in great field position and DK Metclalf nearly took the Seahawks into the end zone with a long run after contact but he was incredibly stripped of the ball for a San Francisco touchback. Seattle also fumbled on its first drive out of the break but San Francisco stalled on the edge of field goal range and fell incomplete on 4th-and-2. Back-to-back turnovers led to two quick Seattle touchdowns but the momentum shifted back quickly as the 49ers had their own defensive score to make it 21-18 early in the fourth. San Francisco tied the game with a field goal at about the six-minute mark before matching field goals sent the game to overtime, with San Francisco’s late tying field goal securing the ‘over’ as well. The Seahawks hit a huge play on 3rd-and-16 and were in field goal range going first on overtime but Russell Wilson threw his second interception of the season. San Francisco looked poised to win but fill-in kicker Chase McLaughlin missed badly from 47, the same distance he hit from to force overtime. Punts followed as a tie looked possible but Wilson had a big scramble and hit a few short gains to allow Jason Myers to deliver from 42 yards as time expired for the upset.

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4Q Covers Week 11

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 11

11/10/2019

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.

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Eliminator Final 5

Each handicapper submits two selections each week, a single 1-point play and a double 2-point play. Each contestant is awarded points for losses and eliminated at 10 points.

The 2019 ELIMINATOR CONTEST IS UNDERWAY WITH WEEK 9 SELECTIONS FOR GAMES NOV. 9-11

CLICK HERE for the Week 9 Contest Single Plays

The Double Plays can be purchased for just $9 each week, or for $50 for the duration of the contest

DOWN TO THE FINAL 5 CONTESTANTS!