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Free NFL Preseason Pick

#258 Baltimore Ravens +2 over Washington Redskins 6:30 PM CT

Joe Flacco is likely out a few weeks and Ryan Mallett could be tested as a top starter in the preseason for the Ravens. In his 7th season Mallett has been on the career backup path with just eight career starts. Behind him are Dustin Vaughan and the very recently signed Josh Woodrum with both likely to see action for John Harbaugh, a coach with one of the strongest active preseason records with S/U wins in two thirds of his preseason games at a nearly as strong ATS clip.

Washington has some new pieces to work in with Jay Gruden also posting a very impressive preseason record in three years. Washington has new coordinators on both sides of the ball which could lead to a more serious approach this preseason. The quarterback rotation for the Redskins is rather set with Colt McCoy and Nate Sudfeld playing behind Kirk Cousins with the team paying their starter $24 million on a second straight franchise tag deal. Needless to say he will be protected this August and Sudfeld is likely to star in the preseason with healthy numbers last season with 28 completions, three touchdowns, and no interceptions.

Harbaugh’s track record and the very low home price for the Ravens is appealing with Baltimore also a strong host in preseason games under Harbaugh and the victor in six of the last eight meetings in this local rivalry.

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4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 10

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 10

11/06/2016

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 10th college football weekend to start the month of November. 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.

Northern Illinois (-17) 45, Bowling Green 20: This rematch of last season’s MAC championship wasn’t quite the appealing game the conference had hoped for with a pair of struggling teams but it was still a competitive game after Bowling Green climbed to within 11 points late in the third quarter. Northern Illinois slipped past the spread in the final minute of the third quarter leading 38-20 but Bowling Green was in position to answer with 1st-and-goal from the Northern Illinois 8-yard line. Four incomplete passes later the Huskies had the ball back but Bowling Green held on defense until they handed the ball back to Northern Illinois after failing going for it on 4th-and-5 from their own 30-yard line. Five plays later Northern Illinois wrapped up the game and the favorite cover with a touchdown run with fewer than two minutes to go on the clock.

Ohio (-17½) 34, Buffalo 10: The Bobcats pulled past the heavy home favorite spread for the first time only 19 minutes into the game with a 20-0 edge and then after exchanging scores still held a 27-7 advantage before a short Buffalo field goal cut the margin to 17 points by halftime. Seven straight punts started the second half before Ohio turned in a 47-yard touchdown drive making the most of good field position for a 34-10 edge early in the fourth quarter and Buffalo didn’t make much of a threat to spoil the cover on its final two possessions.

Wake Forest (-2½) 27, Virginia 20: Down 17-6 at the half Virginia rallied to take a 20-17 edge late in the third quarter. A field goal with about eight minutes to go tied the game for Wake Forest and just over a minute later the Demon Deacons took the lead with a big play on defense, taking an interception 39 yards for the go-ahead score 27-20. Virginia had two more possession before the game ended but the Wake Forest defense held to make the Demon Deacons bowl eligible for the first time in five years.

Oklahoma State (+1) 43, Kansas State 37: The Wildcats turned a five-point halftime deficit into a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter. Oklahoma State hit a big play with an 82-yard pass play halfway through the fourth quarter to pull within two points. The Cowboys forced a punt to get the ball back with about five minutes to go and went 80 yards in eight plays without facing a 3rd down taking a 43-37 lead after a touchdown with a two-point conversion. While the ATS win was likely out of the equation for most as Kansas State was favored by 2-3 points most of the week, Kansas State was a threat to score late for the win, getting inside the 10-yard line in the final seconds before throwing an interception on the game’s final play.

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Troy (-23) 52, Massachusetts 31: The Trojans slipped past the heavy home favorite spread with about 10 minutes to go in the game, leading 52-24 but the lead didn’t hold as a touchdown with four minutes to go put Massachusetts back within the number. Up by 21 Troy’s final drive reached the Massachusetts 5-yard line but they were able to take knees from there to run out the clock. Some Trojans backers likely still escaped with a win as the line as briefly below 21 early in the week.

Stanford (-16½) 26, Oregon State 15: Stanford led by just six at the half but pulled away in the third quarter to lead 23-7, past the common number most of the week of -14½ before the closing spread hit as high as -16½. On the first play of the fourth quarter Oregon State got into the end zone and went for two successfully to close to within eight points. Stanford added a field goal with about 10 minutes to play and on the next drive the Cardinal were a serious threat to pull away further but Christian McCaffrey was stopped on 4th-and-goal from the one-yard line with about two minutes to go to prevent a touchdown that would have put Stanford past the spread.

Wisconsin (-6) 21, Northwestern 7: The Badgers were favored by seven much of the week and took just a six-point edge into the fourth quarter at Northwestern. A Wildcats fumble for the only turnover of the game gave Wisconsin a short field and early in the final frame the Badgers capitalized with a touchdown and a successful two-point conversion to lead by 14. Northwestern had a few more possessions but came up short on downs twice without crossing midfield as the Badgers held on.

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Western Kentucky (-34½) 49, Florida International 21: The Hilltoppers had a 49-7 edge through three quarter but it wouldn’t hold up as Florida International scored a pair of touchdowns early in the fourth quarter in the span of about a minute after taking advantage of a fumble. Up by 28 there wasn’t much urgency as the Hilltoppers went for it on 4th-and-7 from the FIU 26-yard line late in the game and a late Panthers fumble wasn’t costly as FIU stayed just within the heavy underdog spread.

Louisiana Tech (-21) 45, North Texas 24: The Bulldogs led by only seven well into the third quarter before a touchdown made it a 14-point margin heading into the final frame in Denton. A minute into the fourth quarter Louisiana Tech completed an 11-play drive to match the closing road favorite spread, though much of the week the spread ranged from -19 to -20½. Neither team seriously threatened to score the rest of the way as the final margin matched the closing number.

West Virginia (-31½) 48, Kansas 21: The Mountaineers led 31-0 at the half and were past the heavy favorite spread with a 45-7 edge late in the third quarter but a pair of Kansas touchdowns made the favorite cover much more challenging and West Virginia settled for a field goal with about 10 minutes to go to lead by just 27. Kansas actually had two productive drives late in the game but didn’t need to add any points to keep the underdog cover.

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Georgia (-2½) 27, Kentucky 24: Georgia had three costly fumbles as the Bulldogs trailed much of the second half at Kentucky despite holding a severe yardage edge throughout. Down by five heading into the fourth quarter Georgia broke a big run to take the lead and in a key play for those on the spread successfully went for two to take 24-21 edge. Kentucky’s offense found some life with its longest scoring drive of the day going 14 plays and 68 yards but settling for a short field goal and the tie after Georgia’s defense held on the goal line. With less than three minutes to go Georgia went the distance and ran out the remaining clock to kick a short field goal for the win as time expired, narrowly slipping by the road favorite spread as well.

Alabama (-7) 10, LSU 0: The game of the week lived up to its billing if you like defense as through three quarters Alabama and LSU were knotted at 0-0. LSU threatened late in the third quarter after an Alabama fumble to reach the 35-yard line but ultimately went backwards and had to punt. With a questionable unnecessary roughness penalty a key play, Alabama went 90 yards in 12 plays for the only touchdown of the game. On LSU’s next possession they suffered an interception and Alabama milked the clock for 15 plays before hitting a field goal to go up by 10 with under three minutes to go. Allowing just six first downs in the entire game the Crimson Tide defense didn’t allow but two yards on LSU’s final possession to incredibly cover the touchdown spread despite only scoring 10 points.

 

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NFL Close Calls – Week 8

NFL Close Calls – Week 8

11/01/2016

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 Week 8 of the NFL regular season.

Cincinnati Bengals (-3) 27, Washington Redskins 27 (48½): The scoring summary looks like this was a very exciting game in London with the teams mostly trading scores, penalties and missed opportunities made watching it a bit less interesting than it could have been. Cincinnati was even with the favorite spread with a three-point edge heading into the fourth quarter and that was the margin with under seven minutes to go after trading touchdowns. After trading punts Washington drove into field goal range in the final minutes but had three incomplete passes in a row to settle for the tying kick. Both teams picked up yardage on their first overtime possessions but ultimately had to punt with penalties playing a role. A penalty gave Washington a key 3rd down conversion on its next drive and it appeared the win was in hand with a 34-yard field goal attempt but the kick was missed. The Bengals approached midfield with just over a minute to go in the overtime quarter but fumbled and Washington wasn’t able to get close enough to try another kick, failing on a Hail Mary attempt as a tie was the final result.

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Atlanta Falcons (-3) 33, Green Bay Packers 32 (51): These NFC contenders traded scores the entire game with no consecutive scoring plays throughout. Green Bay led 21-13 late in the second quarter before an Atlanta touchdown, and the Falcons wound up going for two and the tie and falling short, points that would prove important later on. The Packers added a field goal before halftime for a five-point edge but Atlanta scored the only points in the third quarter, taking a two-point edge into the final frame. With the help of a pair of Atlanta penalties the Packers went 86 yards to score with about four minutes to go in the game, getting the two-point conversion as well for a 32-26 edge. Atlanta managed to answer with relative ease, facing just two 3rd-and-short plays on an 11-play drive to take a one-point lead with 31 seconds to go. The Packers produce a comeback drive in the final 30 seconds but did enough for the underdog cover.

New Orleans Saints (+1) 25, Seattle Seahawks 20 (48): The Seahawks led by one through two and three quarters in this game with both teams settling for several short field goals with a 17-16 edge entering the fourth quarter. The Saints connected for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to go up by five, failing on the two-point conversion attempt. Seattle reached the New Orleans 5-yard line on its next possession with a new set of downs but went backwards before ultimately settling for a 21-yard field goal to remain trailing by two points. That kick was also important in keeping the game ‘under’ the total as New Orleans also settled for a field goal just after the two-minute warning to lead by five again. Seattle had plenty of time remaining and wound up getting a final play from the 2-yard line, missing on a back corner fade that would have flipped the side and total results.

New York Jets (-2½) 31, Cleveland Browns 28 (45½): This line hit as high as -5½ for the Jets early in the week before it was announced that Josh McCown would return. Cleveland led 20-7 at the half looking for its first win but the Jets took over in the second half, scoring the next 24 points to take a 31-20 edge with four minutes to go in the game. Cleveland wound up scoring a touchdown with 12 seconds to go and some had to sweat on a two-point conversion try which the Browns succeeded in, making for a 31-28 final.

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Oakland Raiders (PK) 30, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24 (48½): The Raiders rallied back from a 10-0 early deficit with a 17-10 edge by the start of the fourth quarter. Tampa Bay scored early in the fourth quarter but the extra-point was missed. On the next Tampa Bay drive the Buccaneers made amends with a touchdown and a two-point conversion to go up 24-17. The ‘over’ looked promising as the Raiders answered including getting a 4th-down conversion on a 75-yard drive to tie the game at 24-24 with 1:38 remaining. After forcing a punt the Raiders got the ball back and had a 50-yard kick to win the game but missed left. Overtime was needed and in a record setting penalty performance the Raiders went backwards after reaching the Tampa Bay 23-yard line and settled for a 52-yard kick that Sebastian Janikowski missed right on its first possession. Those on the ‘under’ started to have some serious hope with three straight punts but a marginal effort put the Raiders at their own 40-yard line with 3:21 to go in overtime. Facing 4th-and-3 and sitting outside of field goal range the Raiders connected for a 41-yard touchdown to win the game and seal the ‘over’ as a tie was a very real possibility if Tampa Bay had gotten the stop.

Denver Broncos (-4) 27, San Diego Chargers 19 (43½): Down 17-7 the Chargers scored late in the third quarter but only pulled to within four points with a blocked extra-point. Denver completed a 15-play drive to lead 24-13 early in the fourth quarter but on the next Broncos possession a 24-yard interception return put San Diego within five. The Chargers had allowed a pick-6 earlier in the game but they again couldn’t make it a 3-point margin as they failed going for two after their own defensive touchdown. Denver hit a bit play to reach the red zone but settled for a field goal to put the margin at eight points. San Diego went 73 yards on the next drive but failed with four straight incomplete passes from the Denver 2-yard line with fewer than three minutes to go. Denver had to punt pinned deep as the Chargers got the ball back with still two minutes to go in good field position but the Chargers could not convert near midfield as Denver escaped with a win and the cover.

Dallas Cowboys (-5) 29, Philadelphia Eagles 23 (43½): The Eagles led most of the Sunday night game including a 10-point edge in the fourth quarter but Dallas trimmed the margin to seven points following a Philadelphia fumble. The Eagles had a 10-play drive to the Dallas 30-yard line but a 3rd down mishandled snap pushed the Eagles out of field goal range and they punted to the Dallas 10-yard line. Dak Prescott led a 90-yard drive to tie the game with about three minutes to go, a score that sealed the ‘over’ as well. Overtime was needed and getting the ball first Dallas didn’t surrender it, going 75 yards in 12 plays and over seven minutes for a game and spread winning touchdown. The result was certainly only possible in the new overtime rules as Dallas went for it on 4th-and-1 from the Philadelphia 28-yard line rather than kicking a field goal as Philadelphia would have still had a possession if Dallas only came up with three points.

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4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 9

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 9

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 ninth college football weekend to close the month of October. 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.

Virginia Tech (-3½) 39, Pittsburgh 36: Pittsburgh led the Thursday night ACC clash 21-16 early in the second half but the Hokies scored the next 13 points to take a 29-21 edge into the fourth quarter. The game was tied early in the fourth quarter and Pittsburgh stayed within the number with the defense getting a red zone stop to hold Virginia Tech to a 22-yard field goal. After a Pittsburgh 3-and-out Virginia Tech only need three plays to score a touchdown to take a 39-29 lead with about seven minutes to go in the game. After a pair of punts the Panthers got the ball back and went 90 yards for a touchdown to get back within three points with just over two minutes to go. Virginia Tech was able to run out the clock but Pittsburgh covered in what was sixth Panthers game decided by a single-score.

USC (-20) 45, California 24: Action was overwhelming on USC Thursday night as an opening line of -14½ immediately climbed and on Thursday afternoon oddsmakers had to push the line as high as -20½ before getting significant buy-back. USC stormed out to a 21-0 lead and pulled away with a 42-17 edge through three quarters. A California touchdown early in the final frame cut the margin to just 18 points however and USC quarterback Sam Darnold threw an interception in Cal territory as the Trojans failed to answer and gave the heavy underdog real promise. Cal failed going for it on 4th-and-4 in its own territory and USC was able to burn nearly eight minutes of clock despite advancing only 22 yards, eventually kicking a field goal to make the margin 21 points and enough for the home favorite to cover at any price. The final minute featured spread result drama as Davis Webb had the Bears down the field and with a final play from the USC 10-yard line, ultimately needing to check down on that play for a harmless short gain with time expiring.

South Florida (-6) 52, Navy 45: The Bulls stormed out to a 28-0 led on Friday night and by halftime it was still a 28-point margin with a 42-14 edge for South Florida. Navy closed to within 24 by the start of the fourth quarter and things would get very interesting late. Navy had three fourth quarter touchdowns compared to one for South Florida with the Midshipmen going for two and failing on each score, leaving a 13-point margin heading into the final minutes. After missing a field goal on its previous possession South Florida had a quick 3-and-out as Navy got the ball back with less than a minute to go down 13. On the final play of the game Navy connected from the 9-yard line for a touchdown but with time expired there was no need for the extra-point as a seven-point advantage would hold for South Florida on a spread that was commonly 6½ during the week.

Temple (-9) 34, Cincinnati 13: The Owls led the entire game but it was only a four-point edge at the half and just a seven-point edge heading into the fourth quarter as Temple settled for a pair of short field goals. In the first three minutes of the fourth quarter Temple scored two touchdowns to put the game away, with the second score coming on a short field following a fumble.

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Minnesota (-8) 40, Illinois 17: The final score was a bit deceptive in this Big Ten clash as Minnesota led just 21-14 through three quarters and the Gophers wound up posting only 283 yards of offense despite winding up with 40 points. Minnesota scored on the first play of the fourth quarter to go up by 14 and then had a safety a minutes later. Minnesota added two more short field scores after a fumble and Illinois going for it on 4th down deep in their own territory as a 19-3 final quarter created a misleading final.

Kansas State (-6) 31, Iowa State 25: Iowa State wound up out-gaining Kansas State by almost 100 yards but they turned in the definitive 4th quarter cover as they trailed by 21 heading into the final frame. An early touchdown and a safety put the Cyclones in range down by 12 and with 51 seconds left on the clock the backdoor cover was narrowly earned by completing a 76-yard scoring drive.

Notre Dame (-2½) 30, Miami, FL 27: The Irish were dogged most of the week before a Saturday line flip but it didn’t look like it would matter as the Irish stormed out to a 20-0 lead. Miami took control in the second half and tied the game early in the fourth quarter. A defensive touchdown gave Miami at 27-20 lead with fewer than seven minutes to go. The Irish took less than a minute of game clock to answer to knot the game at 27-27 and then the Notre Dame defense forced a 3-and-out. A 10-play drive produced a game winning field goal in the final minute for Notre Dame to get in the win column while also slipping past the closing spread.

Texas (+3½) 35, Baylor 34: This Big XII clash lived up to the billing with a very tight score throughout. Baylor had a pair of field goals surrounding the switch to the fourth quarter to go ahead 34-26 hoping to keep an undefeated season alive. Texas would go 79 yards in just six plays to answer but going for two the Longhorns failed to trail by two, though that would have been enough for the home underdog cover. Baylor went 41 yards on its next drive reaching the Texas 29-yard line but a sack and a rushing loss put the Bears at 4th-and-18 from the Texas 37. The decision to punt is hard to argue with but a touchback was the result and Texas was able to reach field goal range, kicking the go-ahead 39-yard field goal with 46 seconds remaining.

SMU (-1½) 35, Tulane 31: Tulane trailed by 11 at the half but scored three touchdowns in a row in a 10 minute span late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter to take a 31-21 advantage as a home underdog. It wouldn’t hold up as SMU had two long scoring drives in the final seven minutes including the go-ahead touchdown with 1:16 remaining on a drive that came after Tulane went for it on 4th-and-2 from the SMU 22-yard line with a three-point lead. The game ended with Tulane throwing an interception on a heave to the end zone from the SMU 35-yard line.

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Oregon (-9½) 54, Arizona State 35: The Ducks led by 11 heading into the fourth quarter but an Arizona State touchdown early in the final frame kept the Sun Devils within the spread. The teams traded touchdowns in the middle of the fourth quarter to keep a five-point edge for the Ducks. A 58-yard run for Oregon put the Ducks up by 12 at the six-minute mark and Oregon added another late short field score for a bit of a misleading final score.

Texas A&M (-43½) 52, New Mexico State 10: The Aggies were in command with a 24-0 start to the game and by the fourth quarter Texas A&M Led 45-3 on a spread that opened at -41 and eventually hit as high as -44. Those numbers wound up mattering as the teams exchanged scores in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter and 42-point margin held. New Mexico State reached the Texas A&M 38-yard line with about five minutes to go but was unable to secure the underdog cover. The scoring was a bit misleading however as The Aggies had a yardage edge below 200 yards and two Texas A&M touchdowns came on long punt returns.

Wisconsin (-8½) 23, Nebraska 17: The Badgers held a 10-point lead heading into the fourth quarter but just over a minute into the final frame Nebraska completed a 14-play touchdown drive to climb within three points. A pair of fourth quarter interceptions burned the Wisconsin as Nebraska managed to tie the game and Wisconsin missed a late go-ahead field goal. The underdog cover was sealed as overtime was forced, Wisconsin went first and got six but that was all they got with a badly missed extra-point. The Wisconsin defense held for a six-point final advantage.

Auburn (-4) 40, Mississippi 29: Ole Miss led 29-27 heading into the fourth quarter but Auburn put together a pair of field goals on consecutive drives to take a four-point advantage, even with the road favorite closing spread. Mississippi threw an interception on its offensive possession and three plays later Auburn used the short field for a touchdown to take an 11-point lead. A touchdown and a two-point conversion could have stolen the cover back but the Rebels were stopped on downs in Auburn territory and the Tigers were able to burn the rest of the clock.

New Mexico (+2½) 28, Hawai’i 21: After an early 14-0 lead for New Mexico was matched, these teams sat tied in the fourth quarter with the outright winner likely the spread winner as well on a short home favorite number. After tying the game early in the fourth quarter the Warriors got the ball back but disaster struck with a fumble returned for a touchdown to give New Mexico the lead. A 13-play drive for Hawai’i followed featuring two 4th down conversions but on 4th-and-1 from the New Mexico 7-yard line Hawai’i was stopped.

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Nelly’s Free NCAA Football Pick

Northern Illinois + over Central Michigan

These squads were among four teams tied on top of the MAC West last season with Northern Illinois getting the tiebreaker to the MAC Championship game. Central Michigan won the head-to-head matchup with a 29-19 result early in the season in a game where both offenses struggled. After a 0-4 start the Huskies have split the past two games with a win at Ball State and a competitive loss at Western Michigan last week, a one-point game late in the third quarter before the Broncos pulled away. After losing their quarterback early in the season the Huskies seem to be finding some rhythm again with option #3 senior Anthony Maddie. Central Michigan squeaked out a win over the Ball State team that NIU beat, getting a fourth quarter interception return touchdown that was the difference in the game. Given Central Michigan’s preference to throw, the Huskies look like a home underdog with a potential rushing edge, while holding a great home dog history going 11-4 ATS in that role since 1998.

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Thursday Night College Football – Connecticut at Houston

Thursday Night College Football – Connecticut at Houston

While there is a Big XII game on the schedule there is certainly more intrigue in Thursday’s ESPN game between Connecticut and Houston. The Cougars have the country’s attention as a College Football Playoff candidate outside of the power 5 conferences and this week’s Thursday night game is a matchup vs. Connecticut, the only team that beat Houston last season.

Match-up: Connecticut Huskies at Houston Cougars

Venue: TDECU Stadium in Houston Texas

Time/TV: Thursday, Sep. 29, 8:00 PM ET

Line: Houston -28, Over/Under 50

Last Meeting: 2015, at Connecticut (+10) 20, Houston 17

Tom Herman has coached Houston in 18 games with only one loss. That loss came last November at Connecticut as a 10-0 Houston squad fell short 20-17 as a road favorite. The caveat is that Greg Ward, Jr. did not start at quarterback with an injured ankle. He did appear for the final series after his replacement Kyle Postma was also injured late in the game, eventually throwing an interception on Houston’s final drive. The statistics in that game were quite even but Houston had four turnovers although the Cougars also did score on a kickoff return touchdown.

Houston has opened the 2016 season 4-0 with the big opening week statement win over Oklahoma. The Cougars also won in primetime two weeks ago at Cincinnati in a much closer game than the 40-16 final indicated. This will be the first true FBS home game for the Cougars as the opener was at Reliant Field and the home opener was a 42-0 win over FCS Lamar. Houston is currently ranked #6 in the AP Poll and Herman is certainly garnering attention as a candidate for the recent opening at LSU, though those conversations seem unlikely to take place at this point in the season.

Connecticut is 2-2 this season coming off a solid 6-7 season that featured a bowl bid last season, the program’s first postseason trip since 2010. The Huskies are 0-1 in AAC play losing at Navy but they split two games vs. ACC competition the past two weeks at home, beating Virginia but losing to Syracuse. All four games for Connecticut have been single-score games with lower scoring as the season high output for the Huskies is just 24 points, actually a touchdown increase over last season’s scoring average of just 17.2 points per game.

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Connecticut has been out-gained in all three of its FBS games as the Huskies had a 104 yard deficit vs. Virginia despite the win. Bob Diaco is known as a defensive coach as Notre Dame’s former defensive coordinator now in his third season in Storrs. This season’s defense has allowed 6.1 yards per play this season but only 3.8 yards per rush while holding opposing quarterbacks below 60 percent completions. It was the defense that keyed the home upset in this matchup last season but Connecticut is just 2-9 S/U on the road since Diaco took over the program.

Houston’s offense has deserved attention with almost 45 points per game this season but that average is a bit inflated with 106 points vs. FCS Lamar and FBS bottom-feeder Texas State. Three touchdowns also came on defense and special teams in the notable wins over Oklahoma and Cincinnati to boost the numbers as well.

It has really been Houston’s defense that has catapulted the program into the national spotlight, allowing just 229 yards per game this season with incredible numbers against the run, allowing just 1.5 yards per carry and 37 rushing yards per game. Run defense was a strong area for the defense last season as well, finishing the season allowing just 3.2 yards per carry allowed and more impressively not once allowing a team over a 3.9 yards per rush average for the game in 14 games that included matchups vs. strong rushing teams like Louisville, Cincinnati, Navy, and Florida State.

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With the running game likely offering little support, Connecticut will need to make some plays in the air, though last season the Huskies had just one 300 yards passing game all season. At quarterback for Connecticut is junior Bryant Shirreffs who has modest numbers this season, posting a very similar pace to last season’s production figures. He has completed nearly 67 percent of his passes after barely topping 60 percent last season but he also has as many interceptions as touchdowns through four weeks.

Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. has won 17 straight games that he has started and he’ll certainly go down as an all-time great at Houston, joining Andre Ware, David Klingler, Kevin Kolb, and Case Keenum. His statistics are modest this season and he didn’t play in the win over Lamar as prospects as a Heisman Trophy candidate are minimal even with some early season attention. With just five touchdowns passes as he won’t pass the records of those highly prolific passers but he is leading a team that can have a historic season on the national stage, with avenging last season’s only loss the next step.

Historical Trends: Connecticut is 8-25 S/U and 10-22-1 ATS in road games since 2010, including 2-9 S/U and 3-8 ATS under Diaco since 2014. Connecticut is just 7-18 ATS as a road underdog since 2010 though going back to 2000 the Huskies are 13-8 ATS as an underdog of 20 or more points, though three of those four covers came at home. Houston has thrived in the road underdog role with incredible recent ATS results but at home the numbers are modest, going 20-7 S/U and just 14-17 ATS at home since 2012. Houston is 9-0 S/U under Herman at home but just 4-5 ATS. Houston is also just 5-10 ATS as a home favorite since 2014, suffering three S/U home favorite losses in the 2014 season under Tony Levine. Houston is 15-6 ATS as a favorite of 20 or more since 2009, though just 2-3 ATS under Herman in that heavy favorite role while going 0-3 ATS in Herman’s home games at that price.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NFL Close Calls – Week 3

NFL Close Calls – Week 3

09/27/2016

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 Week 3 of the NFL regular season.

Buffalo Bills (+5½) 33, Arizona Cardinals 18 (48): The Bills had an inspired performance to take a 17-0 lead that grew to 30-7 in the second half as there wasn’t much drama in the spread result in this upset. Heading into the fourth quarter the ‘over’ looked promising with 43 points and a 60-yard field goal with about 10 minutes to go left the game needing just one more score to reach the number. Neither offense did much in the fourth quarter but the Bills defense turned an interception into a short field drive for another field goal and then added a safety late in the game as the two offensive scoring drives in the final frame came on drives of 4 and 3 yards for just enough for the ‘over’ to hit.

Baltimore Ravens (-2) 19, Jacksonville Jaguars 17 (44½): Baltimore took a 13-7 lead into the half in what proved to be a sloppy AFC clash for both offenses as each side had three turnovers and fewer than 300 yards. By the end of the third quarter the Jaguars trailed 16-14, right even with the closing spread though early in the week Baltimore was at a ‘pick’ or -1 before climbing as high as -2½ Sunday morning. The Jaguars looked ready to pick up their first win of the season taking advantage of a short field halfway through the final frame and leading 17-16 after a field goal. The next three possessions featured three interceptions in the span of nine offensive plays and Jacksonville ended up with the ball in Baltimore territory with about three minutes to go, holding a one-point lead as a slight underdog. The Jaguars took a costly 3rd down sack to back-up the field goal attempt and the 52-yarder was blocked, giving the Ravens the ball near midfield. Baltimore couldn’t pick up a 3rd-and-short to melt the remaining clock but with just over a minute to go Justin Tucker hit a 54-yard field goal to put Baltimore up by two and flipping the spread result for many in the process. Jacksonville’s final drive predictably ended in an interception as the Jaguars fell to 0-3.

Miami Dolphins (-10) 30, Cleveland Browns 24 (42½): The Browns saw an early lead dissolve as early in the fourth quarter Miami climbed past the heavy home favorite spread with a 24-13 advantage. The ‘over’ hit a few minutes later on a Terrelle Pryor touchdown run for the Browns and with a successful two-point conversion the Browns were within three and in good shape for the underdog cover, though the spread varied from -9 up to -10½ at various points in the weekend and opened as low -7 before it was clear that rookie Cody Kessler would be starting for the Browns. Cleveland would tie the game with about three minutes to go and a Ryan Tannehill fumble gave Cleveland a golden opportunity to cash hefty moneyline tickets but new kicker Cody Parkey missed left from 46 yards as time expired. In overtime both teams punted on their first possessions but a marginal Cleveland effort had Miami starting just outside of field goal range and in three plays the Dolphins found the end zone to win, saving a lot of folks in survivor pools as well.

Washington Redskins (+3½) 29, New York Giants 27 (47): This NFC East clash had the makings of a back-and-forth affair and it didn’t disappoint as Washington clawed back from an early 21-9 deficit. Early in the third quarter Washington took its first lead with a 55-yard pass play to lead by two but New York took a one-point lead into the final quarter with a short field goal. Washington hit a field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter to clinch the ‘over’, going back in front by two but New York again hit a short field goal go back in front by one with just under eight minutes to go. Washington turned in a 10-play drive to again go ahead just after the two-minute warning but a two-point lead for the underdog wasn’t immune to a late touchdown giving the Giants the edge. Eli Manning was picked off near midfield however as Washington held on for its first win.

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Green Bay Packers (-6) 34, Detroit Lions 27 (47½): The Packers bounced back coming off the Sunday night loss in Minnesota as they took a 31-3 lead in the home opener at Lambeau Field. The Lions hit a big play to trim into the margin just before halftime but entering the fourth quarter Detroit still trailed by 17 points. The line on this game opened as high as -8½ before sliding all the way to -6 and the game wound up landing in the middle as the Lions scored 10 fourth quarter points and Green Bay was able to take a knee in Detroit territory to end the game.

Seattle Seahawks (-10½) 37, San Francisco 49ers 18 (42): Those backing Seattle felt comfortable with a quick 24-3 edge for the Seahawks at the half though there was some concern with Russell Wilson leaving the game. Those on the ‘over’ saw the pace slow dramatically with only a pair of short field goals in the third quarter as 33 points were scored through three quarters. A Seattle touchdown from Trevone Boykin put the figure at 40 early in the fourth quarter and San Francisco finally contributed to the scoring late with two touchdowns in the final eight minutes to secure the ‘over’.

Philadelphia Eagles (+3½) 34, Pittsburgh Steelers 3 (46½): When backing the ‘over’ in a Steelers game one can usually assume Pittsburgh will find the end zone a few times but at the half the upstart Eagles led 13-3. The scoring pace picked up in the third quarter but it was one-sided with three Philadelphia touchdowns to reach 37 points by the start of the final quarter. Down by 31 points Pittsburgh had to go for it in unfavorable situations and they continued to come away empty while the Eagles were conservative in milking the clock late as the ‘under’ held on with no scoring in the final quarter.

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Indianapolis Colts (-1) 26, San Diego Chargers 22 (51½): This afternoon AFC tilt proved to be the roller coaster game of the week starting with a severe line move as the Colts opened at -3 and dropped all week to eventually briefly hit ‘pick’em’ before climbing back to -2 and then closing back down at -1. For most of the game that timing looked critical with a 13-13 game at the half after a defensive touchdown for the Chargers in the final minute of the second quarter. San Diego missed an extra-point try after a third quarter touchdown as the Colts took a 20-19 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Chargers reached the Indianapolis 4-yard line halfway through the final frame but wound up settling for a field goal and a two-point advantage. The Chargers held on defense to get the ball back but then stalled near midfield to punt back to the Colts with just over two minutes to go. After converting a 4th-and 7 just after the two-minute warning the Colts hit a big play with the help of defender that fell as T.Y. Hilton was wide open for a 63-yard score with just over a minute to go, putting Indianapolis up by four. The two-point conversion attempt failed to keep the total just ‘under’ at 48 but the Chargers still had some time to work with. With still over a minute to go Philip Rivers hit Hunter Henry up the middle for a big gain but he fumbled to end the threat and getting the ball back with one final play the Chargers fumbled again on a desperation play.

Dallas Cowboys (-6) 31, Chicago Bears 17 (45): There was strong yardage production on both sides Sunday night but Dallas had a commanding 24-3 lead at the break and there were only seven points added in the third quarter as the scoring pace slowed. Dallas put the game away with an 88-yard drive to lead 31-10 with nine minutes to go but those on the ‘over’ still needed another touchdown. With the game out of hand the Bears found the end zone to get the total to 48 but any hope of a miracle comeback ended with a fumble in Dallas territory just ahead of the two-minute warning.

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4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 4

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 4

09/25/2016

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 fourth college football weekend. 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.

TCU (-22) 33, SMU 3: This local rivalry game featured just three field goals in the first half as TCU held just a 6-3 lead as a heavy road favorite. In the third quarter the Horned Frogs hit a few big plays but were still short of the spread with a 20-3 edge. A field goal early in the final frame got TCU closer with a 23-3 edge and then with fewer than seven minutes remaining the Frogs added another three-pointer to lead 26-3. SMU threatened on its next possession but an interception gave TCU the ball back and the game was put away a few plays later with a touchdown strike to hit the 33-3 final advantage.

Utah (-3) 31, USC 27: Looking to avoid a 1-3 start to the season USC led most of Friday’s Pac-12 tilt including holding a 24-10 lead as an underdog late in the third quarter. Utah completed an 85-yard drive recovering its own fumble in the end zone late in the third quarter to get within seven but early in the final frame the Trojans hit a field goal to build a comfortable 10-point lead. Utah would answer with a five minute drive to get within three points but USC moved into Utah territory on its next possession. Clay Helton faced a big decision opting to punt on 4th-and-3 with just over five minutes to go just outside of field goal range. The move looked successful with Utah pinned at the 7-yard line but Troy Williams engineered one of the drives of the season with a 15-play effort that featured two 4th down conversions and put the Utah in the end zone with just 16 seconds on the clock, getting the win and narrow cover in the process.

Virginia (+5) 49, Central Michigan 35: Virginia took command with a 28-0 lead not even 20 minutes into this game with the Cavaliers seeking their first win under Bronco Mendenhall. Central Michigan chipped away to cut the margin in half by halftime and a defensive touchdown put the Chippewas within seven through three quarters. On the first play of the fourth quarter Central Michigan tied the game at 28-28 giving the slight road favorite hope for a miracle comeback win. Virginia hit an 82-yard pass play to go back in front however and then completed two more scoring drives later in the final frame to take control, eventually winning by 14.

Ball State (-3½) 31, Florida Atlantic 27: Florida Atlantic led by seven well into the third quarter before Ball State hit a 29-yard passing touchdown to tie the game. Early in the fourth quarter the underdog Owls hit a 41-yard field goal to lead by three but in the final two minutes Ball State completed a 70-yard drive to go up by four, just past the closing spread.

West Virginia (-9) 35, BYU 32: The spread on this game jumped before game time as West Virginia was a favorite of below a touchdown most of the week for this game at FedEx Field. The Mountaineers led by nine heading into the fourth quarter and made it a 35-19 edge early in the final frame. BYU rallied with back-to-back touchdowns to close within three before turnovers ended the next three drives with a BYU interception handed back on a fumble a few plays later and a late 66-yard drive from BYU ending with an interception at the goal line.

Baylor (-6½) 35, Oklahoma State 24: The favored Bears saw this line drop all week even slipping below seven Saturday. The Bears struck early but the saw the game delayed nearly two hours with lightning. Both offenses were a bit out of sync from there with the Bears holding a seven-point edge at the half but Oklahoma State had closed to within four points late in the third quarter. Both coaching staffs got aggressive in the 16 minutes as late in the third quarter Baylor went for it on 4th-and-short from their own 24-yard line. The move backfired but Oklahoma State didn’t take advantage, going for it and coming up short on 4th-and-2 from the Baylor 4-yard line instead of kicking a field goal to get within a point. Getting the ball back the Cowboys had a productive drive but after a 38-yard run into the red zone Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill fumbled on the next play just before he went into the end zone. Taking over at their own 1-yard line the Bears went 99 yards to go up by 11 and past the favorite spread. The next Cowboy possession ended with an interception and Oklahoma State ran out of time on its final drive despite getting inside the 20-yard line as Baylor escaped with a rather fortunate favorite cover.

Louisville (-31) 59, Marshall 28: This game ended at the closing line but the heavily favored Cardinals were favored by fewer than 31 points all week before a climb on game day. It looked like the number wouldn’t matter as after a slow start Louisville pulled away in the middle quarters and led 52-7 heading into the final quarter. Marshall scored two touchdowns in 15 seconds of game clock with the help of a fumble return before the teams traded touchdowns in the final minutes. Louisville ended the game at the Marshall 7-yard line to leave the margin right at 31.

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Purdue (-3½) 24, Nevada 14: The Boilermakers trailed 14-3 early before climbing within four just before halftime. In the third quarter a short scoring drive put Purdue up by three but it took until the final two minutes of the game for the Boilermakers to get past the favorite spread. With 1:17 left on the clock a 51-yard pass play put Purdue up by 10 as the Boilermakers got the win and cover despite a 4-0 turnover deficit.

Tulane (-3) 41, UL-Lafayette 39: Tulane took a 16-9 lead into the fourth quarter, scoring the first touchdown of the game late in the third quarter. With about six minutes to go the Ragin’ Cajuns were able to tie the game and overtime was needed after neither team mounted a final threat. Few overtime games end with a two-point margin but this low scoring game wound up with a misleading shootout final score as both teams scored touchdowns in the first and second extra sessions. In the third session UL-Lafayette settled for a short field goal as Tulane backers had hopes for a closing line push but the Wave went backwards and needed a difficult 48-yard kick to extend the game. The spread on the game was closer to -5 most of the week and a favorite cover look possible as Tulane went first in the fourth overtime and scored a touchdown with a successful two-point conversion. The underdog Cajuns spoiled that chance quickly with a 2nd down touchdown but a failed conversion ended the game.

Middle Tennessee State (-4½) 38, Louisiana Tech 34: Getting a favorite cover seemed impossible for the Blue Raiders with a 27-7 deficit halfway through the third quarter but this Conference USA clash turned sharply as Middle Tennessee State trimmed the deficit to 10 points by the start of the fourth quarter. While the line was above -4½ most of the week it did fall to -4 Saturday before climbing back to -4½ by kickoff and with a pair of scores early in the fourth quarter the Blue Raiders held a four-point lead. Louisiana Tech answered to take the lead back but the Blue Raiders would return the favor to steal a wild comeback win 38-34, holding on four plays from inside their own 10-yard line in the final two minutes. Most on the underdog Bulldogs still covered but it was a drastic turn of events in Murfreesboro.

Kentucky (-2) 17, South Carolina 10: The outright winner was going to cover in most scenarios in this matchup at the bottom of the SEC East. Through three quarters a low scoring affair was knotted at 10-10. Kentucky had an 11-play drive to take a 17-10 lead early in the fourth quarter. Both teams traded punts from there and South Carolina was in the unenviable position of needing to go for it on 4th-and-17 just inside of Kentucky territory, predictably failing with a sack to essentially end the game.

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Tennessee (-4½) 38, Florida 28: The Gators opened up a 21-0 early edge in the big SEC East clash and still held a 21-3 edge at the half. While the Gators still led 21-17 entering the fourth quarter the wheels were falling off with momentum shifting to the hosts and Tennessee would score three touchdowns in the span of just over four minutes of game clock in the fourth quarter to completely flip the outcome and pull past a favorite spread that dropped all week. Florida would climb within 10 late but the Volunteers came away with a big win in a tale of two halves.

Auburn (+3) 18, LSU 13: 24 of the 31 points in this game were scored on field goals and an Auburn 3-point kick with under three minutes to go in the game appeared to seal the win up 18-13 after LSU had a 13-12 edge entering the fourth quarter. LSU had one final play from the Auburn 10 yard line as the clock was ticking and Danny Etling appeared to connect with Travin Dural in the end zone for the go-ahead score. LSU would have gone for two up by one and a successful conversion would have meant a cover or push for many on LSU. In a shocking turn of events however replay review ruled that LSU didn’t get the play off in time and the game ended with Auburn on top.

Boise State (-17) 38, Oregon State 24: The Broncos held a 31-7 lead at the half but the cover proved in play late as Oregon State scored all 10 points in the third quarter to climb within 14 and just within the underdog spread. With just over three minutes to go it appeared the road favorite cover would work out with a fumble return touchdown to lead by 21 but on the ensuing kickoff Victor Bolden took it 99 yards to the house for Oregon State and 14 points was the closing margin as the underdog Beavers held on to the cover for most though some early week Boise State backers may have gotten in at -13½.

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Air Force (-5½) 27, Utah State 20: Air Force took advantage of a turnover just before halftime to take a 17-10 lead. In the third quarter both teams had long drives that ended with no points including Utah State coming up empty after an 85-yard drive but the Aggies added a field goal in the fourth quarter to close within four points, and just enough for an underdog cover. The Aggies held on defense and got the ball back but a fumble handed Air Force a 13-yard field and the Falcons took advantage to take an 11-point lead. Utah State desperately went for it on 4th down in their own territory with about five minutes to go and came up empty as Air Force added another three points and a late Utah State touchdown wasn’t quite enough for the underdog Aggies despite a severe yardage edge in this Mountain West opener.

Arizona State (-4) 51, California 41: An expected late night shootout in the Pac-12 took some time to materialize as Cal led 14-3 late in the second quarter before a flurry of points just before the half made it 24-10. California still led by seven entering the fourth quarter and Arizona State didn’t tie the game until about six minutes to go at 34-34. A field goal gave the Sun Devils their first lead of the game with just over three minutes to go, though they still sat short of the favorite spread. Disaster struck the Bears, allowing an interception return touchdown that put Arizona State up by 10. The Bears would answer with a touchdown in the final minute of the game to seemingly hold the underdog cover but the on-side kick attempt was returned 42 yards for a touchdown as Arizona State escaped in a wild finish.

Stanford (-3) 22, UCLA 13: Stanford trailed nearly the entire way against UCLA, netting only field goals with a 13-9 deficit well into the fourth quarter. Stanford found the end zone for the first time in the game with a great catch to complete a 10-play drive with only 24 seconds remaining on the clock. That put the Cardinal even with the common number of -3 though for a while Saturday morning -2½ became available. UCLA made a threat in the remaining seconds as a pass got the Bruins to midfield and then just missed another completion that could have set-up a field goal. On the final play Josh Rosen was sacked and a fumble was picked up and returned for an unnecessary score with no time on the clock, giving an incredibly lucky clear cover to Stanford.

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NFL Close Calls – Week 2

NFL Close Calls – Week 2

09/20/2016

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 Week 2 of the NFL regular season.

Tennessee Titans (+6) 16, Detroit Lions 15 (48): The Lions looked ready to be a surprise 2-0 squad with a 15-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Marcus Mariota found Delanie Walker for a touchdown pass to start the final frame, getting within the number with a five-point deficit for Tennessee. The Titans got two defensive stops to get the ball back and Mariota delivered with a long drive that ended with veteran Andre Johnson snagging the go-ahead touchdown catch on a 4th down play. The Lions moved to midfield but the game ended with a Matthew Stafford interception.

New England Patriots (-6) 31, Miami Dolphins 24 (42): The Patriots had a big early lead but lost Jimmy Garoppolo and the Dolphins rallied to within seven points with about six minutes to go. New England’s next drive lasted 13 plays and nearly got into the final minute of game clock but a 39-yard field goal try was missed right. Miami threatened on its final possession reaching the New England 29-yard before failing on 3rd and 4th down as New England held on for the win and narrow cover.

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Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) 24, Cincinnati Bengals 16 (47½): The Steelers led 24-9 but Cincinnati scored a touchdown with under four minutes to go to get within eight points. The Bengals had a productive drive going again but just after the two minute warning a fumble was lost in Pittsburgh territory as hope for the underdog and the ‘over’ faded away.

Dallas Cowboys (+3) 27, Washington Redskins 23 (47): Washington led 23-20 to sit even with the spread through three quarters with both NFC East squads looking for their first wins. With under five minutes to go the Cowboys converted a touchdown drive to take a 27-23 lead, collecting for the ‘over’ in the process as well. Washington had a throw to the end zone at the end of the game but it was deflected out of the end zone.

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New York Giants (-3½) 16, New Orleans Saints 13 (54): This game played out far lower scoring than anyone expected with a 10-3 New York edge heading into the fourth quarter and the only touchdown of the game coming on a blocked field goal return. That changed in the final frame with the Saints tying the game at 10-10 early and then an exchange of field goals left a 13-13 tie heading into the final minutes. New York was able to use the entire remaining clock to go 70 yards, kicking a field goal for the win as time expired but leaving the narrow underdog cover for the Saints.

Carolina Panthers (-11½) 46, San Francisco 49ers 27 (44½): The Panthers took control in the middle quarters turning a 10-7 deficit into a 31-10 lead by the start of the fourth quarter. The spread result would be a toss-up in the final frame however as the  49ers closed to within 11 points with scores within seven seconds of game clock following a fumbled kickoff catch. Carolina rallied to get a field goal going up by 14 but two plays later the 49ers were in the end zone and within seven points as the outcome remained in doubt. The Panthers again were able to add three points but the 10-point edge wasn’t going to be enough for those on the favorite. An interception gave Carolina another shot and the Panthers added a touchdown, although the extra-point was blocked in a potentially important play with the line hovering between -13 and -13½ most of the week. The 49ers had another interception from Blaine Gabbert however and it was Carolina that added an additional three points to hang on for the heavy favorite cover.

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Denver Broncos (-6) 34, Indianapolis Colts 20 (47): This AFC clash was tied 13-13 well into the third quarter with some missed opportunities on both sides. Denver added a field goal to lead by three heading into the final quarter and the Broncos cashed in with a 46-yard interception return touchdown to take a 10-point lead. Indianapolis answered posting an 80-yard touchdown drive to climb within three with four minutes to go in the game. The Broncos settled for a field goal just after the two-minute warning to lead 26-20 but those on Denver and the ‘over’ were bailed out as the spread and total results flipped on a 15-yard fumble return touchdown for the Broncos. Indianapolis did get past midfield as the clock wound down but another sack on Andrew Luck ended the final threat.

Atlanta Falcons (+4) 35, Oakland Raiders 28 (48): Atlanta led 21-14 heading into the fourth quarter but the Raiders tied the game early in the fourth quarter. The Oakland defense couldn’t hold however as Atlanta would score two more touchdowns to lead by 14 while sealing the ‘over’ result. Oakland did add another touchdown but Atlanta was able to pick up a first down to burn most of the clock and seal the win.

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Minnesota Vikings (+1½) 17, Green Bay Packers 14 (43): The Vikings took control in the middle quarters behind great play from the defense and new quarterback Sam Bradford, leading 17-7. Green Bay was able to finish a 75-yard dive with much of the yardage coming on a pass interference penalty just as had been the case on the first Packers touchdown and it was a three-point game in the final frame. Green Bay got the ball back and had a new set of downs at the Minnesota 40-yard line with a touchdown capable of flipping the spread result but Aaron Rodgers was sacked and fumbled. The Vikings picked up one first down but couldn’t burn that much of the clock as the Packers drove near midfield again in the final two minutes. Another turnover ended the threat and the Vikings were just barely able to run out the remaining seconds to seal the win in their new stadium.

Philadelphia Eagles (+3) 29, Chicago Bears 14 (43): After a tight first half the Eagles pulled away with two touchdowns in the final minute of the third quarter, the second of which came following a Jay Cutler interception. A fumble in the fourth quarter lined up another short field for the Eagles and with a 29-7 lead all that was left to settle was the total. Behind Brian Hoyer the Bears reached the Philadelphia 19-yard line but those on the ‘over’ needing another score didn’t get it as the Eagles held on 2nd, 3rd, and 4th-and-1 plays. Philadelphia was forced to punt a few minutes later and Eddie Royal delivered a 65-yard return touchdown for the scoring to reach the closing number of 43 though depending on the timing ‘over’ and ‘under’ results were possible as the Eagles did not add points despite taking the ball well into Chicago territory on its final drive.

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4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 3

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 3

09/19/2016

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 third college football weekend. 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.

Houston (-7) 40, Cincinnati 16: The first game of the college football week featured a tight battle in the AAC with highly ranked Houston and Cincinnati knotted up at 10-10 at the half with both teams missing some opportunities. Houston’s defense got the lead with a third quarter safety but on the first play of the fourth quarter Cincinnati connected for a touchdown to lead 16-12. It didn’t take long for Houston to go in front with a 19-16 edge and the Cougars put the game away with another touchdown run from quarterback Greg Ward to put Houston up by 10 with just over six minutes to go. The scoring got a bit out of hand late and even gave those on the ‘over’ a brief glimmer of hope as on consecutive Cincinnati offensive plays Houston scored consecutive interception return touchdowns to make for a misleading final score with the Cougars reaching 40 points with almost half of the scoring coming on defense.

Baylor (-34) 38, Rice 10: For the second straight week Baylor had a bit of a slow start with no points in the first quarter and it was still a competitive game as halftime approached as Baylor led just 14-10 before a touchdown in the final two minutes of half put the Bears up by double-digits. Baylor added 10 points in the final five minutes of the third quarter and they were up by 28 early in the fourth quarter, needing one more touchdown to pass a heavy road favorite spread. The Bears put together a 14-play drive and had 1st and goal at the Rice 10-yard line with less than five minutes to go in the game but four straight runs came up empty as the Owls held on to the home underdog cover.

Utah State (-9½) 34, Arkansas State 20: The Aggies had a great start Friday night taking a 24-0 lead just a minute into the second quarter. There wasn’t much offense the rest of the half and Arkansas State regrouped in the third quarter to make it a game. A pair of touchdowns put the Red Wolves within 10 but a field goal allowed Utah State to take a 27-14 lead into the final quarter. Arkansas State had a pair of red zone drives but wound up settling for short field goals to the chagrin of those on the ‘over’ but the Red Wolves were in position to cover trailing by just seven points. Utah State was almost able to run out most of the clock out with a 13-play drive that went 91 yards, and they could have taken a knee on consecutive plays to run out the clock as Arkansas State had just one timeout left. They opted to try to score from the one-yard line and closed the game with a 34-20 advantage and a late favorite cover.

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Penn State (-8.5) 34, Temple 27: This game wound up much higher scoring than most would have expected and Penn State seemed to have revenge in hand with a 24-10 edge late in the third quarter. The Owls climbed within seven before the start of the final frame however and were within three with eight minutes to go in the game. Saquon Barkley broke a 55-yard run just a few plays after Temple’s touchdown and Penn State was just past the spread with a 10-point advantage. With time running low Temple had a productive drive into Penn State territory and hit a field goal to get within seven with just over two minutes to go. Temple held on defense to get the ball back but an interception ended the threat to force overtime but the Owls did hang on for a narrow underdog cover.

TCU (-24.5) 41, Iowa State 20: After a close start in this Big XII opener TCU started to pull away late in the second quarter and by the end of the third quarter the Horned Frogs slid past the heavy home favorite spread with a 38-10 margin that extended to 41-10 in the fourth quarter. Iowa State would score 10 points in the final seven minutes of the game however to steal the underdog cover back and pile on enough yardage to make the game statistics much closer to even.

Rutgers (-8) 37, New Mexico 28: The Lobos jumped out to a 21-0 lead across the country at Rutgers but the Knights managed to climb back into the game quickly and took a 28-21 lead at the half a on spread that doubled throughout the week from an opening number of just -4. Rutgers led by 10 entering the fourth quarter but early in the final frame the Lobos found the end zone to cut the margin to just three points. Rutgers would add two short field goals in the final six minutes to slip past the closing spread and a late opportunity for New Mexico to climb back within the number came up empty with a missed 32-yard field goal in the final minute.

South Florida (-13) 45, Syracuse 20: The Orange had a 17-0 lead in this matchup but by halftime they were trailing by 11 with the Bulls scoring four consecutive touchdowns in the second quarter. Syracuse hit a long field goal late in the third quarter but after a long run South Florida was past the road favorite spread for the first time in the final minute of the third quarter. An 83-yard punt return sealed the game for South Florida early in the fourth quarter as the Bulls covered despite allowing 549 yards to the Orange.

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San Diego State (-13½) 42, Northern Illinois 28: For the second straight week the Aztecs saw a substantial lead slip away as a 28-0 edge early became just 28-21 by the start of the fourth quarter. A long touchdown run but the Aztecs up by 14 again early in the fourth quarter and just past a spread that rose all week. The Huskies would answer with a 16-play touchdown drive to trail by seven but the underdog cover lasted just 22 seconds of game clock as San Diego State immediately answered with a 79-yard touchdown run. Northern Illinois had two more possessions in the game but those finished with an interception and being stopped on downs near midfield.

Texas Tech (-11.5) 59, Louisiana Tech 45: The Red Raiders led by 11 entering the fourth quarter in a game that featured over 1,200 yards of total offense. Texas Tech added 10 points early in the final frame to pull away and a touchdown for Louisiana Tech in the final minute wasn’t quite enough to get back within the number.

Kentucky (-22½) 62, New Mexico State 42: This game received a lot of attention as the line that opened at -18.5 climbed all the way to -22.5 and the final score fell right in between those numbers. Most of the way this was a back-and-forth game that wound up tied at 35-35 at the half. Kentucky took a 14-point lead in the third quarter but the Aggies scored late in the third quarter to trim the margin back to seven points. In the fourth quarter Kentucky struck again but a missed extra-point loomed large with the great variance in the available spreads throughout the week. The Wildcats would get the cover for those that jumped on them early in the week as a 65-yard punt return touchdown closed the scoring and set the final margin at 20 points.

Nebraska (-3) 35, Oregon 32: While +3½ was available on the Ducks at some spots over the weekend most wound up with a push on one of the big non-conference matchups Saturday afternoon. Oregon had a 20-7 edge late in the second quarter before a great punt return set up a touchdown for the Cornhuskers with five seconds to go in the half. Nebraska took charge in the second half to eventually lead 28-20 but the Ducks put together two long scoring drives in a row to take a 32-28 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Ducks take the unconventional approach of going for two after touchdowns and in this game it burned them as while successful on the first score of the game they failed on four subsequent attempts and a late Tommy Armstrong touchdown run gave Nebraska a 35-32 edge after kicking the extra-point and Oregon missed a wide open opportunity late that could have won the game.

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UCLA (-3.5) 17, BYU 14: The Bruins opened up a 17-0 lead at BYU about halfway through the third quarter. BYU finally found the end zone late in the third quarter to get within 10 and while they had virtually no chance to get in the win column the Cougars did spoil the cover for the Bruins with a touchdown with 37 seconds to go in the game, completing a 91-yard drive.

Oklahoma State (-3) 45, Pittsburgh 38: The spread on this game slipped on Saturday but Oklahoma State scored on its first offensive play and took a 31-17 lead late in the second quarter. Pittsburgh fought back in the game with the help of a defensive touchdown in the third quarter and late in the third quarter the game was tied up 38-38. Early in the fourth quarter lightning forced about a two-hour delay and the quick offensive pace slowed down once play resumed. Late in the fourth quarter the Cowboys finally struck with a 3-play 88-yard touchdown drive to go up by seven. Pittsburgh threatened in the final minute crossing midfield but the game ended after an interception as Oklahoma State escaped with the win and cover.

NC State (-24½) 49, Old Dominion 22: NC State led 35-9 heading into the fourth quarter sitting just past the heavy home favorite spread but these teams exchanged four touchdowns in the fourth quarter with the Wolfpack eventually holding on 49-22, scoring last with about six minutes to go in the game.

Alabama (-11) 48, Mississippi 43: A 24-3 lead for Mississippi with fewer than three minutes to go in the half was cut into by the Crimson Tide in Saturday afternoon’s big SEC West matchup. Alabama had a three-play touchdown drive with just over two minutes to go and then returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown before halftime to only trail by seven points at the break. In the second half the momentum tuck with Alabama, adding fumble return and interception return touchdowns to eventually take a 48-30 lead with just over five minutes to go in the game. Mississippi fought back with a pair of touchdowns in just eight seconds of game clock after a successful on-side kick recovery. The Rebels didn’t get the 3rd down stop they needed however as Alabama hung on but Mississippi earned the home underdog cover.

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LSU (-13) 23, Mississippi State 20: It wasn’t a dominant performance but LSU had a 23-3 lead at the half and still led by 17 well into the fourth quarter. Mississippi State made a late charge with two late touchdowns in the span of 40 seconds of game clock to climb within three points. The Bulldogs would get the ball back for its offense but LSU’s defense held firm and picked up a sack and fumble on a 4th down play to seal the win.

Navy (-7) 21, Tulane 14: Navy trailed 14-13 heading into the fourth quarter but the Midshipmen delivered the scoring drive they needed to take the lead with fewer than three minutes to go in the game. The touchdown made it 19-14, short of the road favorite spread and many watched intently with a two-point conversion try that saved a push for many on the road favorite.

Arizona (-23.5) 47, Hawai’i 28: The Wildcats led 44-14 heading into the fourth quarter but the Warriors put together two late touchdown drives to score the underdog cover while making the box score more respectable as well. Arizona settled for a short field goal early in the final frame and those missing four points could have been meaningful for some.

Washington State (-28½) 56, Idaho 6: The Cougars appeared to have their first win of the season in hand but they were short of the heavy home favorite spread leading just 28-6 heading into the fourth quarter. Four fourth quarter touchdowns changed that outcome and padded the statistics for Washington State vs. nearby rival Idaho.