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4Q Covers Week 3

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 3

09/15/2018

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 big 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.

Wake Forest (-3) 24, North Carolina 18: The Demon Deacons led 21-0 just a few minutes into the second quarter as little went right for the Tar Heels. North Carolina did get a 4th-and-1 stop inside the 10-yard-line to keep the margin at 21 into halftime however. Defense carried the third quarter as there were no points added until North Carolina hit a 49-yard field goal with 41 seconds remaining. After comeback wins in the first two games the Tar Heels made a great run at it again, getting to 21-10 and then 21-18 with about six minutes remaining after going 80 yards in five plays and hitting the two-point conversion. Wake Forest was able to pick up several first downs to exhaust North Carolina’s timeouts but the Deacons kept the game in play by settling for a field goal with a minute to go. North Carolina moved 33 yards before time ran out with officials later admitting one second should have been given to the Heels for a final play after picking up a late first down and getting out of bounds. It would have been a Hail Mary from there but the Tar Heels weren’t given a shot at a miracle finish as Wake Forest held on.

Washington State (-8) 31, Houston 24: Houston kept the prolific Washington State offense in check in the first half with a 14-7 lead at the break as those playing the mid-70s ‘over’ found trouble early with a scoreless first quarter. Washington State scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to get back in front and held Houston to a field goal early in the fourth quarter after a penalty handed off good field position. That four-point edge allowed Washington State to get past the favorite number with the following touchdown drive, leading 28-17 with fewer than seven minutes remaining. Washington State backers got a big break as Houston fumbled on its next offensive play but Washington State only got three points despite reaching 1st-and-goal from the 3-yard-line. A roughing the passer penalty got Houston’s final drive off to a promising start and with just over two minutes remaining a touchdown run from D’Eriq King put Houston within seven, where the final held for the narrow underdog cover.

Kansas State (+7) 31, Mississippi State 24: Kansas State was in control in the first quarter but a costly personal foul penalty allowed Mississippi State to extend a late drive and get to halftime down 17-14 instead of 17-7. The Bulldogs controlled the third quarter and took the lead with a touchdown, sitting even with the closing spread after an early fourth quarter field goal made it 24-17. The kickoff was returned 100 yards by Malik Knowles for a tying score for the Wildcats to shift the momentum back. The defenses held from there until a marginal punt put Kansas State in favorable field position and the Wildcats hit a pair of big passes on the way to the end zone for a seven-point advantage with about five minutes to go. Mississippi State would reach inside the Kansas State 30 on the next drive but went backwards and on 4th-and-16 wound up just a yard short.

Air Force (+3) 30, Colorado 23: The first meeting between these nearby schools featured some big swings as Colorado jumped out to a 10-0 lead and then trailed 20-10 by halftime. Neither team scored in the third quarter and Air Forced extended its lead with a field goal in the fourth while posting a big rushing edge as expected. Colorado would answer about four minutes later but the PAT was blocked as Air Force maintained a seven-point edge. Air Force had a pair of penalties on its next drive and had to punt quickly as Colorado had the ball back with a chance to tie. It took 13 plays but the Buffaloes were able get a touchdown in the final minute and the PAT was good to force overtime. Colorado didn’t keep the momentum long as in overtime Kadin Remsberg went 25 yards for the score on 1st down and Air Force then stopped the Buffaloes for the upset win.

Alabama (-27) 47, South Carolina 23: The box score reveals plenty of concerns for Alabama and South Carolina answered the early punches trailing only 14-10 after the first quarter. Alabama missed a field goal late in the second quarter after being handed good field position as the lead was just 24-10. South Carolina’s chance to truly get back in the game came up empty as in the final seconds before the break the Gamecocks couldn’t get into the end zone after reaching the 1-yard-line, eventually failing going for it on 4th-and-3. Alabama would pull away in the third quarter with a 21-point advantage, one touchdown short of covering the heavy road favorite spread. South Carolina would add a field goal in the fourth but Alabama quickly answered to lead by 24. A promising South Carolina drive ended in a Ryan Hilinski interception and despite limited rushing success the entire game, the Tide eventually worked its way into the end zone, converting on 4th-and-1. That appeared to be the spread-saving score for flocks of Tide backers but Will Muschamp and the Gamecocks had the last laugh, converting a 4th down with 15 seconds to go and hitting the end zone on the next play to narrowly take the underdog cover back.

Army (-14½) 31, Texas San Antonio 13: Army had a 17-7 lead through three quarters but extended the advantage to 24-7 early in the fourth. Following a nice kickoff return, the Roadrunners would add six but not the conversion to climb within the spread down 11. Army intended to run out the clock but they ran out of field and UTSA opted to use its timeouts. Army eventually rushed in from three yards out on 1st down with just over a minute remaining to get past the favorite spread despite being close to the range for taking a knee. UTSA was still a threat to steal the cover back late in the game reaching the Army 21 before an interception.

BYU (+5) 30, USC 27: These teams were knotted at 17-17 at halftime before the scoring went blank in the third quarter. BYU had a fumble and then failed to add points after a long drive trying to go for it on 4th-and-3 inside the 10. A 92-play USC touchdown drive followed to put the Trojans in front but BYU got back within the number with a field goal with about eight minutes remaining. BYU held the USC offense to a 3-and-out and the Cougars answered quickly with a three-play touchdown drive to take the lead. An 11-play USC drive followed but it stalled in deep field goal range. Chase McGrath would hit from 52 to tie the game with just under two minutes remaining. In overtime USC picked up a sack and forced BYU to kick a field goal but USC freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis was intercepted to end the game. The overtime points also were enough to push the total ‘over’ for many as BYU ‘under’ backers were burned for a second straight week by the extra-session, though this week’s total did climb to close at 57½ at many outlets for mixed possible results.

Oklahoma State (-12½) 40, Tulsa 21: Tulsa played a great first half to lead 21-20 in a huge home game for the program. That score held in the first 10 minutes of the third quarter before Oklahoma State put two quick touchdowns together, the second coming on a 90-yard pass play as the Cowboys suddenly led by 12. Oklahoma State went for two and came up empty in a critical spread result play heading into the fourth quarter. Tulsa was stopped on downs twice in the fourth quarter including inside the Oklahoma State 10-yard-line. The Cowboys hadn’t been past the favorite spread in the entire game but on 4th-and-1 with just over two minutes remaining Chuba Hubbard rushed for 33 yards to put the Cowboys up 19.

Arkansas (-9½) 55, Colorado State 34: After losing to Colorado State last season, Arkansas was again caught in a tough battle with the Rams, this season at home. Arkansas led 27-24 at halftime and the game was tied 34-34 through three quarters. Big plays followed for Arkansas with a 62-yard pass play for a second touchdown in the fourth quarter that put Arkansas past the favorite spread and a fumble return touchdown led to a lopsided final margin that the Razorbacks didn’t necessarily deserve.

Louisville (-10½) 38, Western Kentucky 21: Louisville quarterback Jawon Pass was a late scratch for this game but Louisville took a commanding 31-7 lead at halftime, helped by a defensive score just before the break. Both teams scored in the third as the 24-point edge held but Western Kentucky found the end zone early in the fourth to sit down 17 and one score away from the underdog cover. The Hilltoppers recovered the onside kick but failed going for it on 4th-and-15 just past midfield. Louisville helped the cause for the Hilltoppers by also going for it on 4th down near midfield instead of punting as Western Kentucky got the ball back in great field position. On the next drive the Hilltoppers reached the Louisville 6-yard-line but couldn’t get in and they also failed near midfield again on a late drive as Louisville held on for the favorite cover in Nashville.

Iowa (-1½) 18, Iowa State 17: This anticipated rivalry game had a nearly three-hour delay early in the game with lightning before the contest lived up to its billing with an exciting finish. Iowa State took a 14-6 lead on just two plays out of halftime after a fumble led to Iowa getting three points just before the break. Iowa added three more in the third quarter and then struck early in the fourth quarter with a seven-play touchdown drive to take the lead. Up one Iowa would miss on a critical two-point conversion try on a spread that was steady at -1½ with brief wavering up to -2 at times. Iowa State responded with a long drive but also settled for just a short field goal to lead by two halfway through the fourth quarter. Iowa again would lean on kicker Keith Duncan who a few minutes later struck from 39 to put the Hawkeyes back in front by one. Iowa State’s final drive was not without drama as Iowa declined an offensive penalty on 3rd-and-13 to force 4th down just outside of field goal range. On the first attempt of that play Iowa was called for clear pass interference but a second unseen flag whistled Iowa State for holding to offset the huge call that would have given the Cyclones a new set of downs. Iowa State was unable to convert the re-do but managed to force Iowa to a punt with the Hawkeyes surprisingly opting to pass on third down and getting out of bounds to keep well over a minute on the clock. On the punt disaster struck with a Cyclones blocker running into the returner with a slight push from an Iowa player on a short kick, ultimately contacting the ball and allowing Iowa to re-gain possession, where they took a knee to seal the narrow win but left the Cyclones with the cover.

Florida (-8½) 29, Kentucky 21: Kentucky snapped a long losing streak in this series last season but they didn’t seem ready to give the series right back to the favored Gators. Sawyer Smith led the Wildcats in his first start to a 14-7 halftime lead with the Gators having two turnovers and a missed field goal in the first half. Florida added a field goal in the third quarter after a long Kentucky drive ended in an interception but the Wildcats put the margin back to two scores quickly with a touchdown. Both teams were stopped on downs on the following possessions and with Kyle Trask replacing an injured Feleipe Franks the Gators had a quick touchdown drive in six plays to climb within five, missing on the two-point conversion. Later in the fourth Smith was intercepted near midfield but an unsportsmanlike penalty after the play pushed Florida into lesser field position. Florida was aided by two 15-yard penalties and managed to score in just four plays, taking a 22-21 lead after again failing going for the two-point conversion. The Wildcats were in position to answer but were seemingly more concerned with burning clock than getting the lead back and they wound up burned as Chance Poore narrowly missed a 35-yard kick for the lead. Looking for a first down to end the game Josh Hammond broke free and raced 76 yards for a touchdown in the final seconds and the extra-point put Florida up by eight to match the common spread on the game ahead of the weekend, though those that jumped on the Gators on Saturday mostly fell just short.

Washington (-22) 52, Hawai’i 20: Hopes for three Pac-12 wins for the Warriors went out the window quickly as Washington raced out to a 38-0 lead before Hawai’i managed a touchdown right before halftime. The Warriors didn’t fold in the second half however netting two touchdowns to climb within 18 and in position to cover the hefty underdog number. Washington would get back in front of the number early in the fourth and then added another score after an interception to seal the win and cover in a bounce back from last week’s loss to Cal.

San Diego State (-17) 31, New Mexico State 10: The Aggies made a late play to cover with 10 points in a five-minute span late in the third quarter after falling behind 24-0. San Diego State scored to get back past the number early in the fourth quarter and on the responding drive New Mexico State couldn’t convert after reaching the Aztecs 17-yard-line. New Mexico State also reached San Diego State territory late in the fourth but on 1st down a fumble handed the ball back to San Diego State.

Clemson (-27½) 41, Syracuse 6: Clemson led just 17-6 at halftime and was short of the favorite spread with a 27-6 edge through three quarters. Trevor Lawrence turned in a fourth-quarter touchdown drive as the Tigers led by 28 to slip by the spread and a late Syracuse threat was turned away in Clemson territory. For good measure Chez Mellusi broke a 57-yard rush in the final minute to pad the final score for the top ranked Tigers.

Virginia (-7) 31, Florida State 24: The Cavaliers were a -7½-point favorite much of the week but that didn’t seem relevant as Florida State led most of this game, up by seven through three quarter and well into the fourth quarter after answering an early fourth quarter tying score from Virginia. The Cavaliers looked set to tie the game with about six minutes to go with an efficient Bryce Perkins drive finding the end zone but a missed PAT left the Seminoles in front by one. The Virginia defense delivered the 3-and-out however and it took just five plays with the help of a penalty for Virginia to find the end zone again. Down five Perkins converted the two-point try and the Cavaliers led by seven to hit the number for some. James Blackman had a chance to deliver the tying score with a personal foul converting a late 4th down incompletion while pass interference added more yards for the Seminoles who received four 15-yard penalties on the drive. Florida State reached the Virginia 4-yard-line scrambling without timeouts and ran a final play that left Cam Akers just short of the end zone.

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4Q Covers Week 2

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 2

09/09/2018

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 second big 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.

Wake Forest (-20) 41, Rice 21: This Friday night spread eventually hit -20 for the Demon Deacons who were caught in a 14-14 tie after the first quarter. Rice wouldn’t score again until the final two minutes of the game, but that score cut the margin from 27 to 20 to give the Owls a push for many on the closing number.

Boise State (-14) 14, Marshall 7: While the Broncos were never past this spread Friday night as Marshall scored first, they were a serious threat to beat the number in the closing seconds. Boise State had a dominant yardage edge in the game but Marshall had the ball with a chance to tie halfway through the fourth. An interception quickly gave the Broncos the ball back and Boise State led a 15-play drive to run the rest of the remaining clock, with those on the favorite not getting the breakthrough rush they needed with Boise State eventually taking a knee inside the 10-yard-line.

Georgia Tech (-4½) 14, South Florida 10: After a disastrous showing in the opener vs. Wisconsin, South Florida did find the scoreboard first in this game with an early field goal. Georgia Tech would take over from there with two second quarter scores to lead by 11. Both teams had productive drives that came up empty in the third quarter and as Georgia Tech looked to put the game away South Florida picked up an interception to stay in the game. The Bulls slipped within the spread with an early fourth quarter score and appeared poised to take the lead after getting the ball back off another turnover. Facing 3rd-and-goal at the 1-yard-line South Florida fumbled away its chance to go-ahead as the Yellow Jackets got the win but didn’t add points to get past the spread.

Colorado (+4) 34, Nebraska 31: A close call didn’t seem likely for Nebraska is this old Big 8 rivalry with a 17-0 halftime lead. Colorado didn’t score until late in the third quarter but struck again with a 96-yard pass play to climb within three early in the fourth quarter. It was back-and-forth from there with 38 combined fourth quarter points including Colorado tying the game with a 26-yard touchdown pass in the final minute. The Buffaloes went first in overtime and settled for a field goal while Nebraska lost seven yards on a 3rd down sack and wound up missing from 48 for a second straight difficult loss in this series.

Clemson (-14½) 24, Texas A&M 10: The defending national champions didn’t score until nearly 20 minutes into this game but wound up leading by 14 at halftime. The third quarter featured more defense until the Tigers completed a quick 83-yard touchdown drive to lead by 21. Texas A&M had a golden opportunity to score in the fourth quarter but wound up intercepted at the 1-yard-line. It looked like Clemson would add another score to seal the favorite cover but Trevor Lawrence was also picked off near the end zone to halt a productive drive. Down three touchdowns the Aggies only had five minutes to work with but they put together a quality drive and eventually the spread result boiled down to a 4th-and-goal play at the Clemson 2-yard-line with 10 seconds on the clock. Kellen Mond hit Jalen Wydermyer for the score, meaningless to the outcome and the national picture but a huge swing play for many in one of the marquee non-conference games of the season.

Alabama (-55) 62, New Mexico State: A 55-point spread seems outrageous regardless of the competition but Alabama wound up leading 38-0 at the half and had the margin to the 55-point mark through three quarters after answering a New Mexico State touchdown with 17 points in the final four minutes of the third quarter. Both teams had 3-and-out possessions to start the fourth before the Aggies broke through with a few decent gains after starting in good field position and nailed a 43-yard field goal that proved to be the difference in the game.

Wyoming (-7½) 23, Texas State 14: Home underdog Texas State led 14-3 early and dominated the box score in this game. Wyoming managed to climb to within a point in the third quarter and then disaster struck for the Bobcats on a potential scoring drive with interception returned the other way for a 72-yard touchdown, suddenly putting Wyoming in front. Down six the Texas State defense stepped up to hold Wyoming to a 19-yard field goal from 1st-and-goal from the 2-yard-line but that kick put Wyoming past the road favorite spread with about 10 minutes to go. After an exchange of punts Texas State appeared to give itself a shot at the comeback but a field goal was missed with three minutes remaining. Down nine in the final seconds the outcome was set but Texas State would get a final play from the Wyoming 6-yard-line with the spread result on the line but the Cowboys got the stop and turned in a second straight win despite losing badly in total yardage for a second straight week.

BYU (+3½) 29, Tennessee 26: The Volunteers program has had plenty of low moments in the last decade but the start of the 2019 season is certain to join that growing list. The Volunteers led 13-3 at the half, settling for a pair of second quarter field goals. BYU would score in the third but Tennessee still led 16-10 early in the fourth and then 16-13 much later in the game. The game appeared over as BYU was pinned at its own 8-yard-line facing 2nd-and-18 in the final minute but incredibly struck for a 65-yard completion and managed to spike the ball to stop the clock in time to get off and make the tying field goal. The Volunteers would have pushed or lost on most spreads as the real losers in overtime proved to be those on the ‘under’ as both teams scored touchdowns in the first session. Tennessee settled for three in round two and BYU needed only three plays to hand Tennessee a second straight home loss with a stunning comeback win.

Kentucky (-15) 38, Eastern Michigan 17: Kentucky was in control most of the way against Eastern Michigan but led by 14 through three quarters in a game where they had only a 76 yard edge in total production. Early in the fourth Kentucky connected for a 54-yard touchdown pass from Sawyer Smith on his first throw after Terry Wilson was injured on a vicious horse collar tackle. Mark Stoops didn’t forget that play with his offense passing three times on a late Kentucky drive including on 1st down in the final minute when the Wildcats could have taken a knee to end the game. That throw resulted in a spread swinging touchdown, though Stoops is fortunate he didn’t lose another player to a senseless injury on an unnecessary play. Spread result justice was nearly served as Mike Glass drove the Eagles down to the Kentucky 10 in the final seconds but couldn’t connect in the end zone.

North Carolina (+4) 28, Miami, FL 25: The Tar Heels had a hot start with a few big plays to lead 17-3 early but Miami proved to be the stronger squad posting 99 more yards in the game. The Hurricanes went up 25-20 in the fourth quarter but failed on the two-point conversion try. The Miami defense seemed ready to wrap up the game and but North Carolina converted a 4th-and-17 and eventually went ahead with a touchdown with a minute remaining. The two-point conversion put the Heels up three but Miami quickly went down the field as overtime looked likely if not a win in regulation for Miami. The drive stalled and kicker Bubba Baxa had his third missed kick of the day leaving seven points on the field in addition to Miami failing on a 4th-and-1 in the red zone in the third quarter for a tough luck 0-2 start for the Hurricanes.

LSU (-6½) 45, Texas 38: The Saturday night showcase game lived up its billing with an exciting display of offense. Texas trimmed LSU’s lead to 23-21 entering the fourth quarter but it didn’t take long for LSU to climb back up by nine The teams exchanged scores again in quick order before Texas stalled and settled for a field goal to cut the margin to six points with four minutes to go, a significant figure with a spread that hovered near that margin all week. Texas had a chance to get the stop it needed for a shot at the upset but on 3rd-and-17 Joe Burrow hit Justin Jefferson for 61 yards and LSU added the two-point conversion, ending hopes for the underdog with a 14-point margin. Texas would score in the final seconds but the road favorite escaped with the win and cover.

Auburn (-16) 24, Tulane 6: Tulane was a popular underdog with a spread that was as high as +18½ upon its release. Auburn led by eight late in the third quarter before completing a long drive to lead 21-6. The Tigers added a field goal in the fourth quarter before a Tulane opportunity near midfield fell short. Auburn would fumble two plays later to give Green Wave backers a miracle opportunity with the ball at the Auburn 36 but Tulane only advanced a few more yards and again fell short on 4th down.

Texas Tech (-35) 38, UTEP 3: The Red Raiders led 21-0 at halftime and 31-0 through three quarters. Adding a touchdown early in the fourth Texas Tech was past the number at 38-0. UTEP was intercepted on the second play of its next drive but offsides gave the ball back and Miners wound up nearly doubling its game production by getting in position for a shutout-spoiling field goal with about five minutes to go, while also spoiling the big favorite cover for many as well.

Penn State (-31½) 45, Buffalo 13: You’ll do a double-take when pulling up the box score on this game as despite slipping by the heavy favorite spread with a 32-point win, Penn State was out-gained 429-357 and had only 14 first downs. A pick-six in the third quarter put the Lions in front after actually trailing 10-7 at the half while a big punt return aided by a penalty helped Penn State quickly score again to suddenly lead 21-10. Buffalo added a field goal in the third to sit down by eight and seemingly well within a safe range for the underdog cover but Penn State scored two more touchdowns in the final seven minutes of the third and added an early fourth quarter field goal to lead by 25. Buffalo then reached the Penn State 25-yard-line but failed on 4th-and-2 and with three minutes to go and a significant lead James Franklin called back-to-back pass plays, the second of which resulted in a 56-yard touchdown that put Penn State ahead by 32 and was actually the longest scoring drive of the game for the Lions. Buffalo reached the Penn State 35-yard-line on its final possession but again couldn’t convert on 4th-and-short as Bulls backers had a puzzling loss given a nearly 3:1 time of possession edge for the heavy underdog.

Minnesota (-3) 38, Fresno State 35: These teams have had exciting games the past two years with nearly identical results. Minnesota trailed 21-14 through three quarters and still 28-21 as the fourth quarter clock ticked down. On 4th-and-13 Tanner Morgan hit Chris Autman-Bell in the corner of the end zone, and he barely snuck a toe in for the tying score. In overtime Fresno State benefitted from a 3rd down roughing the passer call and found the end zone on the next play but Minnesota needed only three plays to answer. Going first in round two Minnesota had to settle for a field goal to sit even with the common road favorite spread. Jorge Reyna took a shot at the end zone for the win on first down and he was intercepted by Austin Winfield, who sealed last season’s win for the Gophers with an interception in the end zone as well.

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NFL Close Calls – Week 10

NFL Close Calls – Week 10

11/13/2018

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 and total in the fourth quarter in Week 10 of the NFL regular season.

Green Bay Packers (-12) 31, Miami Dolphins 12 (49): The Dolphins were down only 14-12 in the third quarter, settling for four field goals from Jason Sanders. The Packers would get an Aaron Jones touchdown run to lead 21-12 and then two minutes later got past the heavy favorite spread with a touchdown following a Miami interception. The 16-point edge didn’t leave much margin for error and the Dolphins reached the Green Bay 26-yard-line but on the final play of the third quarter Brock Osweiler took a 12-yard sack to take Miami out of field goal range. The Packers would add three in the fourth to lead by 19 and back-to-back sacks ended Miami’s final threat with three minutes to go.

Indianapolis Colts (-3) 29, Jacksonville Jaguars 26 (48): The Colts led 29-16 at the break but the pace slowed in the second half and Jacksonville climbed back in the game. Leonard Fournette scored his second touchdown in the third quarter as the Jaguars climbed to within six and the Jaguars would also missed a late third quarter field goal try. Andrew Luck was intercepted in Jacksonville territory to start the fourth quarter and the Jaguars had the ball back with about eight minutes to go in good field position after an exchange of punts. The Jaguars reached the 36-yard-line but lost yardage from there and faced a decision with four minutes to go on fourth down. Jacksonville went for the 55-yard field goal and got it to put the margin right on the common spread. The Colts faced a similar dilemma after stalling at the Jacksonville 34-yard-line with still nearly three minutes to go. Indianapolis would also go for the long field goal but Adam Vinatieri missed. The Jaguars were a late threat to win or force overtime but on 3rd-and-1 from the Indianapolis 35-yard-line a 10-yard gain was reviewed by the Colts and narrowly overturned to a fumble to effectively end the game.

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Chicago Bears (-7) 34, Detroit Lions 22 (44½): The Bears were in complete control with a 34-10 edge through three quarters but Detroit made a late rally with a pair of touchdowns in the middle of the fourth quarter with a successful on-side kick to trail by 12, leaving room for one more touchdown to be enough to flip the spread result. The Lions were able to get the ball back with just over a minute to go and gained 35 yards before ultimately running out of time without taking a shot at the end zone.

Los Angeles Rams (-9½) 36, Seattle Seahawks 31 (51): The Seahawks led 21-20 through three quarters but the Rams scored early in the fourth quarter and opted to go for two, falling short with a 26-21 edge. Seattle added a field goal to trail by two with 10 minutes to go and the Rams likewise added three a few minutes later to lead by five again. Russell Wilson scrambled on first down and seemed to get clocked in the head but with no call. Then two plays later disaster struck the Seahawks with newly acquired Ram Dante Fowler forcing a fumble. The Rams recovered at the 9-yard-line and scored on 1st down, suddenly moving past the heavy-favorite spread with a 12-point edge. Seattle proved resilient going 90 yards on its next drive to get back within five and then forced a Rams punt with only 35 seconds coming off the clock. The Seahawks would reach the Los Angeles 35-yard-line before coming up empty, but they held on for the underdog cover.

Dallas Cowboys (+7½) 27, Philadelphia Eagles 20 (45): The total on this game proved a close call despite only three points in the first 26 minutes of the game. Both teams added field goals and Dallas managed the game’s first touchdown with 19 seconds before halftime for a 13-3 edge. The Eagles tied the game through three quarters for a total of 26 points but both teams added touchdowns in the fourth for a 20-20 draw. Dallas would make it four touchdowns in the game on four straight possessions to secure the ‘over’ with a 27-20 edge with three minutes to go and the Eagles were not able to force overtime.

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New York Giants (+3) 27, San Francisco 49ers 23 (45): Monday’s battle at the bottom of the NFC featured the 49ers leading by three at the half to sit right on the number. Nick Mullens delivered a touchdown pass to put San Francisco up by 10 in the third quarter but the Giants quickly answered and had tied the game by the start of the fourth quarter at 20-20, leaving all outcomes in play. Mullens had an interception on the first play of the fourth quarter to give the Giants great field position but they would punt on the next two possessions as San Francisco got the ball back with about nine minutes to go. The running game carried the load in an over six-minute drive, but San Francisco couldn’t deliver in the red zone, settling for a 30-yard field goal to the delight of those on the ‘under’. In what may be his last primetime performance Eli Manning got the ball back with fewer than three minutes remaining and connected for a 31-yard pass to quickly put the Giants on the edge of field goal range. The Giants got a pair of first downs via penalty and in the final minute Manning hit Sterling Shepard for the go-ahead score while the ‘over’ collected. San Francisco had a late shot as Mullens threw to the end zone from the New York 21-yard-line on the final play, but the throw fell incomplete.

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NFL Close Calls – Week 5

NFL Close Calls – Week 5

10/09/2018

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 5 of the NFL regular season.

New England Patriots (-10) 38, Indianapolis Colts 24 (49½): The Patriots stormed out to a 24-3 halftime lead but didn’t score in the third quarter as the Colts would score touchdowns in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter to trail by just seven with 10 minutes remaining in the game. Josh Gordon caught his first touchdown pass from Tom Brady near the nine-minute mark to put New England up by 14 and leaving very little room left for the ‘under’ despite only 34 points into the fourth quarter. Those hoping for the ‘under’ or an underdog rally met disaster as Andrew Luck was intercepted and on the next play Sonny Michel ran 34 yards to clear the total and put New England up 21, making a late Colts touchdown meaningless relative to the spread.

Cleveland Browns (+3½) 12, Baltimore Ravens 9 (44½): Cleveland led 9-6 through three quarters with a missed extra-point in the second quarter. The fourth quarter started with five consecutive punts before Baltimore got the ball back in decent field position and connected for a few solid gains, reaching the Cleveland 14-yard-line with just over a minute remaining. Ultimately the Ravens had to settle for the tying kick with 52 seconds remaining. Baker Mayfield had a chance to be the hero with two timeouts remaining and he worked the Browns down to the edge of field goal range but a 55-yard try came up short. The Browns had a 3-and-out to start overtime and Baltimore appeared to be a threat to win with a new set of downs just short of midfield. A questionable illegal block was called on 1st down however to push the Ravens backwards before they eventually punted. Starting at its own 14 yard-line Cleveland got a roughing the passer penalty after a 27-yard gain to sit across midfield. Rather than trying another long kick however the Browns went for it on 4th-and-5 and came up incomplete. With good field position Joe Flacco couldn’t break the tie with three straight incomplete passes and only 25 seconds coming off the clock as the Browns got one more shot. On 3rd-and-8 Derrick Willies took a short pass for 39 yards and Duke Johnson followed with a few nice gains on the ground. Greg Joseph hit a redemptive 37-yarder for the Cleveland win.

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Kansas City Chiefs (-3) 30, Jacksonville Jaguars 14 (48): A charmed season for the Chiefs continued with a 20-0 edge at the half, getting 10 points in the final two minutes of the second quarter thanks to Jacksonville blunders with a four-drive run of failing going for it on 4th-and-1 from the 3, 1st down fumble, 1st down pick-6, and interception in the end zone for a touchback. The missed scoring opportunities kept the ‘under’ in position to win but the scoring pace picked up in the third quarter with 17 points in succession to reach 37 points early in the fourth quarter. On 1st down with about 12 minutes to go Blake Bortles threw another interception at the one-yard-line but the Jaguars picked off Patrick Mahomes a few plays later and would actually score a touchdown with about six minutes remaining to put the total at 44. Jacksonville then failed on 4th down by a yard, reaching the Kansas City 2-yard-line when a touchdown could have cut the margin to just eight points. Getting the ball back at their own nine the Jaguars were a threat to add points in the final minute but predictably Bortles had his fifth turnover of the game with another interception in the end zone for a touchback as the ‘under’ held with the Jaguars getting only 14 points on 502 yards of offense.

Carolina Panthers (-6½) 33, New York Giants 31 (43½): A high scoring first half left the Panthers just past the spread with a 20-13 lead with the difference being an early second quarter fumble return touchdown. The ‘under’ came back in the picture with only three points in the third quarter but early in the fourth Christian McCaffrey scored on an 18-yard reception to put the Panthers ahead by 11 and the total at 43. Two interceptions each for Eli Manning and Cam Newton surrounded that touchdown and the Giants eventually landed in good field position and needed only two plays to find the end zone while also getting the two-point-conversion as the ‘over’ was complete and the underdog Giants were in position to cover. Carolina was in position to add points with about two minutes to go but settled for a field goal to lead by just six and in just four plays the Giants answered and took a one-point lead. Carolina still had more than a minute remaining but only gained 30 yards and opted for a long field goal. Graham Gano delivered from a record-tying 63 yards to give the Panthers the win.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3½) 41, Atlanta Falcons 17 (57): The Steelers had a 3-point edge at the half but pulled away with a 27-10 edge through three quarters, still 20 points shy of the high total. Both teams scored touchdowns early in the fourth quarter to reach 51 but Atlanta failed in an opportunity just past midfield and the Steelers were conservative looking to run down the clock. The Falcons got the ball back at their own 2-yard-line but Matt Ryan was intercepted on a long pass to midfield, though on replay it was overturned. Those on the ‘over’ got the play they needed as Ryan was sacked two plays later and a fumble was returned for a touchdown with the Chris Boswell extra-point for 58.

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Cincinnati Bengals (-6) 27, Miami Dolphins 17 (48): The Dolphins led 14-0 at the half with the help of a punt return touchdown from Jakeem Grant and after halftime Miami still controlled the game moving to a 17-0 advantage. The Bengals finally got on the scoreboard with five minutes remaining in the third quarter with a long field goal as Miami took a 14-point lead into the final frame, sitting with a 20-point cushion as the underdog. Andy Dalton completed a pair of big third downs on the way to a touchdown early in the fourth quarter and Ryan Tannehill threw a pick-6 a few minutes later as suddenly the game was tied. Miami wound up punting from midfield and Cincinnati settled for a short field goal with just over three minutes remaining to keep the underdog Dolphins still in position to cover down 20-17. On 3rd-and-17 Tannehill was sacked with the ball popping out right into the hands of Sam Hubbard who returned the fumble for a second defensive score in the fourth quarter for the Bengals making it a 10-point lead. Those on the underdog and the ‘over’ hoped for one more Miami drive but after picking up 10 yards Tannehill was intercepted again.

Arizona Cardinals (+3) 28, San Francisco 49ers 18 (40½): The Cardinals led 14-6 through three quarters as those that took a shot with the ‘under’ on one of the lower totals of the season were in good shape. San Francisco missed a field goal early in the fourth to help the cause and Arizona punted from across midfield to pin San Francisco inside the 20. C.J Beathard led the 49ers on a 14-play, 83-yard touchdown drive with the score coming on 4th down. The 49ers had a chance to tie the game but the two-point conversion was incomplete, putting San Francisco within a score of the favorite cover while the total was still two touchdowns short with fewer than seven minutes on the clock. Getting the ball back just over a minute later Beathard was sacked with the fumble returned 23 yards for an Arizona touchdown and on San Francisco’s next possession Beathard had an interception to set up another Cardinals score with the total scoring reaching 40 with still three minutes remaining. San Francisco went 76 yards for a touchdown on the next possession to seal the ‘over’ with a 26-point fourth quarter.

Houston Texans (-3) 19, Dallas Cowboys 16 (45½): The underdog Cowboys led 6-0 in the first quarter but wound up short of the spread at halftime with a 10-6 deficit. Dallas tied the game through three quarters after Houston had to settle for a 21-yard field goal following a short field score for the Cowboys after a fumble. Approaching the halfway point of the final frame the Texans had 1st-and-goal at the 1-yard-line but couldn’t get in, again settling for a short field goal to lead by three. Dallas would need a kick from 48 yards to tie the game with about five minutes remaining. After trading punts the Texans reached midfield but overtime was needed after a deep shot was intercepted. Dallas went first in overtime and picked up a pair of 1st downs, eventually reaching the Houston 42-yard-line where they came up short on 3rd down. In decision that could be his downfall Jason Garrett opted to punt on 4th down, pinning the Texans at the 10-yard-line. In just eight snaps Deshaun Watson put the Texans into field goal range with Ka’imi Fairbairn hitting from 36 for the win, although a push was the common result and some early backers had the Cowboys +3½.

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NFL Close Calls – Week 13

NFL Close Calls – Week 13

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in the NFL with several result-changing scores in the final minutes of Week 13

Dallas Cowboys (+2) 38, Washington Redskins 14 (47): The ‘under’ looked promising with a 17-7 edge for Dallas through three quarters in a game where both teams were held below 300 yards. An exchange of touchdowns early in the fourth quarter put the ‘over’ back in play with Dallas still up by 10. The Cowboys burned nearly six minutes of clock on the next drive to lead 31-14 with fewer than five minutes remaining. Washington had to go for it on 4th-and-10 from its own 25-yard-line and a tipped pass was intercepted, giving Dallas the ball at the 11-yard-line. The Cowboys couldn’t run out the clock and while Washington would get stops on 1st and 2nd down from the 1-yard-line, the Cowboys broke into the end zone on 3rd down to hit the ‘over’.

Baltimore Ravens (-2½) 44, Detroit Lions 20 (43): A series of miscues left the Lions down 20-0 at halftime in Baltimore but out of the break Detroit scored touchdowns on three of its first four possessions, closing to within seven points. A big kickoff return gave the Ravens great field position halfway through the fourth quarter and the Ravens were able to push the advantage to 10 points. Matthew Stafford would be intercepted on the next two Detroit possessions, the second of which was returned for a touchdown to give the Ravens a blowout final margin despite a slight yardage deficit.

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Tennessee Titans (-7) 24, Houston Texans 13 (42): The Titans fell behind 10-0 with first quarter mistakes but wound up tying the game by halftime and after a touchdown at the end of the third quarter the Titans led 17-10 on a spread that sat at 6½ most of the week before bouncing to 7. The Texans managed a field goal to get within the number early in the fourth quarter and forced a Tennessee punt to quickly get the ball back. Houston would have a new set of downs at the Tennessee 29-yard-line after a completing a 22-yard pass play on 4th-and-19 with a replay review that held up. The next play Tom Savage was intercepted. After Houston exhausted its timeouts the Titans faced 3rd-and-5 with less than a minute on the clock and Derrick Henry broke a 75-yard run for a touchdown to save the cover for the Titans.

Green Bay Packers (-3) 26, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20 (45½): A 17-7 lead for Green Bay was erased with Tampa Bay scoring 13 straight points to lead 20-17 with six minutes to go. The Packers offense had done little the entire game but did enough under Brett Hundley to line-up a game-tying field goal just ahead of the two-minute-warning. In overtime the Packers got the ball first and didn’t relinquish it, eventually getting the game-winning touchdown on a 20-yard rush from Aaron Jones to win and cover, while also pushing the total ‘over’.

New Orleans Saints (-6) 31, Carolina Panthers 21 (48): The Saints took control of this game with consecutive touchdowns in the second quarter and led 28-14 heading into the fourth quarter. A short field goal with six minutes to go effectively sealed the win for the Saints with a 31-14 edge but a late Panthers touchdown shifted the total result to the ‘over’.

Los Angeles Rams (-7½) 32, Arizona Cardinals 16 (43½): The Cardinals trailed by six at halftime with a defensive score for the Rams the difference. In the third quarter a big punt return set-up a short field touchdown to give the Rams a 13-point lead while Arizona made a field goal and had a field goal blocked on the next two possessions. Two more Los Angeles field goals created the 32-16 final margin with the Cardinals running out of time at the 26-yard-line while out-gaining and out-rushing the Rams for the game.

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Oakland Raiders (-10) 24, New York Giants 17 (43): With Geno Smith starting at quarterback the Giants didn’t do much on offense but trailed just 10-7 through three quarters. Oakland scored two fourth quarter touchdowns around a touchdown for the Giants to push the edge to 24-14; right even with the closing line but past the common spreads from -7 to -9 most of the week. The Giants managed a late field goal after the two-minute-warning to secure the underdog cover in Ben McAdoo’s final game.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-4½) 23, Cincinnati Bengals 20 (43): The Bengals led 17-0 early in this game but wound up in tight battle late as the lead was cut to 20-10 entering the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh predictably would tie the game with about four minutes remaining while the Bengals punted on their final three possessions. The Steelers delivered a game-winning field goal as time expired to spoil moneyline bets on the home underdog while leaving the total at a push for most.

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NFL Close Calls – Week 8

NFL Close Calls – Week 8

10/31/2017

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.

Baltimore Ravens (-3) 40, Miami Dolphins 0 (38): While the side outcome was rarely in doubt even with Ryan Mallett taking over at quarterback, a scoreless third quarter confirmed an ‘under’ pace even with a very low total for two of the worst passing teams in the NFL. In the fourth quarter the Ravens would score three touchdowns with two interceptions returned for scores with the other touchdown coming on a drive of just 38 yards after Miami had to go for it on fourth down in its own territory. 20 points in the fourth quarter matched the scoring of the first three quarters combined and pushed the total just ‘over’.

Minnesota Vikings (-11) 33, Cleveland Browns 16 (38): Minnesota struggled to pull away from winless Cleveland trailing 16-15 with five minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Vikings delivered a touchdown with a successful two-point conversion late in the third quarter to take a seven-point edge into the final frame on a line that steadily climbed from -7½ up to -11. In the fourth quarter Case Keenum led an 84-yard touchdown drive to put Minnesota up by 14 and then the Vikings added a late field goal for more convincing result than the team probably deserved in London.

New Orleans Saints (-7½) 20, Chicago Bears 12 (46): New Orleans led 14-3 at halftime but the Bears added a third quarter field goal to trail by just eight with a spread bouncing from -9 to -7½ back up to -9½ during the week before closing back at -7½. A Saints field goal early in the fourth put New Orleans up by 11 but the Bears answered with a touchdown drive, though missing going for two to trail by five. New Orleans fumbled on its next possession, unable to add points but the Bears had to go for it on 4th down in their own territory, falling short just after the two-minute-warning. The Saints added a late field goal at the 1:38 mark that proved very important for many as the final margin landed on 8 after a Mitch Trubiksy interception. On the interception Marshon Lattimore returned the ball 27 yards patiently looking for a possible opportunity to break through for a score but eventually went down just past midfield.

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Atlanta Falcons (-6½) 25, New York Jets 20 (44): Atlanta trailed 17-16 heading into the fourth quarter but went up by five after an early fourth quarter touchdown pass, unable to add the two-point conversion in what eventually loomed as a big play relative to the spread results. The Jets answered with a field goal to climb back within two and the defense forced an Atlanta punt. At the Jets 15-yard-line the punt reception was muffed and Atlanta wound up kicking a short field goal to push the lead back to five, or just past what was the common spread of -4½ much of the week though Atlanta closed as high as -6½. The late field goal also flipped the total result on the closing number of 44, though early week numbers hit as high as 46½ as the results wound up mixed on this game.

Cincinnati Bengals (-11) 24, Indianapolis Colts 23 (44): The Colts led 23-17 early in the fourth quarter to make the double-digit dog cover very promising while many held attractive moneyline tickets. Those on the total were sitting just ‘under’ but Jacoby Brissett committed another costly late game mistake with an interception returned for a touchdown to give the Bengals the lead while confirming the ‘over’ just after the seven-minute mark. The final possession for the Colts did cross midfield but Indianapolis never seriously threatened.

New England Patriots (-6½) 21, Los Angeles Chargers 13 (49): New England led 15-7 at halftime and 18-7 through three quarters but the Chargers delivered a touchdown drive with 8:30 to go to climb within five, missing going for two in what turned out to be a big play relative to the spread. After a pair of punts the Patriots had the ball back looking to run out the clock but penalties and injuries led to a few extra clock stoppages. New England came close to picking up a first down that would have allowed them to take a knee with just over a minute remaining but wound up short and kicked a field goal to lead by eight with just over a minute to go, getting past the favorite spread that dipped from -7½ to just -6½. The Chargers reached the New England 23-yard line in the final seconds for one final play but the pass didn’t make it to the end zone and was intercepted as New England backers narrowly snuck out the cover.

Seattle Seahawks (-6) 41, Houston Texans 38 (45): There was little drama regarding the total in this matchup with a 14-14 score through the first quarter and the ‘over’ nearly cleared by halftime with 42 combined points. After having to settle for a pair of 21-yard field goals late in the third quarter Seattle led by three which remained the margin after exchanging touchdowns in the fourth. DeAndre Hopkins scored on a 72-yard pass play to put Houston up by four and the Texans appeared in position for the upset after getting an interception of Seattle in the red zone just after the three-minute mark. Houston wasn’t able to pick up a first down after the two-minute-warning however and Seattle used all three of its timeouts to leave plenty of time on the clock. Russell Wilson delivered an 80-yard touchdown drive in just three plays to put the Seahawks up by three. Deshaun Watson was intercepted on Houston’s final possession as Seattle escaped with the win but Houston held a deserving underdog cover.

Dallas Cowboys (-3) 33, Washington Redskins 19 (46): The underdog Redskins were in position to go up 16-7 late in the second quarter but a blocked field goal completely shifted the game’s momentum. Dallas scored two plays later on a drive of just two yards to lead by one at the half. Washington’s defense kept the Redskins in the game battling tough field position but holding Dallas to four field goals on scoring drives that were all fewer than 50 yards as Dallas led 26-13 midway through the fourth. Washington scored with 4:35 remaining to trail by seven and got the ball back with about a minute to play looking to force overtime. Those on the ‘over’ got the score they needed but it was the wrong direction for Washington backers as a Kirk Cousins interception was returned for a touchdown with 21 seconds left, delivering a late win the for ‘over’ and sealing a big division win for Dallas.

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Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) 20, Detroit Lions 15 (44½): The Steelers hit a 97-yard pass play late in the third quarter to lead 20-12 to sit past the slight road favorite spread. The Lions were in position to have a chance to tie the game or at least would have snuck within the underdog spread but from 1st-and-goal at the Pittsburgh 4-yard-line Detroit had to settle for a field goal to trail by five. Detroit’s defense forced back-to-back punts but a fumble at the Pittsburgh 26-yard-line after a long gain thwarted the first possession and just after the two-minute-warning the Lions failed on 4th-and-7 from the 8-yard-line with a chance to take the lead as the Steelers held on. The ‘under’ also stayed there by two scores despite nearly 900 total yards in the game as the teams combined to deliver just one touchdown in eight combined red zone trips.

Kansas City Chiefs (-7) 29, Denver Broncos 19 (42): The Chiefs led 14-0 early but Denver stayed in the game, managing to match the spread with a 20-13 game through three quarters. Kansas City delivered three straight field goals to pull ahead 29-13 with fewer than five minutes remaining, with the score sitting right at the closing total though still below the more common prices that were as high as 44½ during the week. Despite a rotten turnover-filled performance Trevor Siemian did lead a late touchdown drive with the Broncos finding the end zone just after the two-minute-warning to seal the ‘over’. Denver missed the two-point-conversion however as there was less urgency down two scores when the Broncos got the ball back with still 48 seconds to go before the clock ran out after three short gains.

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4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 8

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 8

10/22/2017

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 eighth big college football weekend Oct. 19-21. 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.

Memphis (+1) 42, Houston 38: Houston led 17-0 at halftime and still clung to a 31-21 lead heading into the fourth quarter despite allowing a kickoff return touchdown. The Tigers scored first in the fourth quarter to trail by only three, even with the opening spread on the game though the line quickly fell to -2½ for the home favorite before closing at just -1. Houston answered with a 13-play 81-yard touchdown drive to go back up by 10 with fewer than seven minutes remaining. Memphis delivered a pair of touchdown drives in the final minutes surrounding a Houston 3-and-out and took the lead with a minute and a half remaining. The final two possessions for Houston ended in turnovers as Memphis escaped with a road win and cover.

Western Kentucky (-7) 35, Old Dominion 31: The Hilltoppers led by seven at the half but an energized Old Dominion squad rallied with 17 points in the third quarter to lead by 10 as an underdog with a line as high as +10 early in the week before closing at +7. In the span of less than two minutes in the middle of the fourth quarter Western Kentucky had a pair of touchdown strikes in between a Monarchs interception to suddenly lead 35-31. With still more than seven minutes remaining the favorite cover was back on the table as a possibility. That cause got even more life with an Old Dominion fumble in Western Kentucky territory as the Monarchs went for it on 4th-and-short. The Hilltoppers played conservatively and got the game clock into the final minute before punting and Old Dominion was intercepted with no return on the final play as the Monarchs still held the cover in a demoralizing loss.

Air Force (-6) 45, Nevada 42: Air Force wound up posting nearly 600 yards in this game but they led by just seven through three quarters, even with the common spread during the week though the Falcons opened and closed just below that key number. Nevada tied the game with 11:39 remaining and touchdowns were exchanged between these Mountain West foes to keep the game tied past the four-minute mark. Air Force converted a pair of big third down plays to sustain a drive into scoring territory but those looking for a spread-saving touchdown were denied as the Falcons were pushed back with a personal foul penalty and settled for running out the clock and kicking a game-winning field goal.

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Colorado State (-10) 27, New Mexico 24: The Rams moved from an opening favorite price of -6½ all the way up to -10 by kickoff late Friday night. Down by 11 at halftime New Mexico struck for a quick two-play touchdown drive midway through the third quarter to trail by four. Colorado State connected for a field goal early in the fourth quarter and then taking advantage of the only turnover in the game the Rams went up by 10 with a second field goal with about five minutes remaining. New Mexico converted a 4th-and-15 near midfield and then reached 1st-and-goal from the Colorado State four-yard-line just past the two-minute mark. Three penalties, a recovered fumble, and a near interception followed and New Mexico faced 2nd-and-goal from the 31-yard-line. Freshman quarterback Tevaka Tuioti got almost half of the yardage back with a near-sack scramble and then on 4th down connected for a jump ball touchdown with 24 seconds remaining to put the Lobos inside the underdog spread. New Mexico actually recovered the onside kick as well but took a sack on the game’s final play.

Northwestern (-2½) 17, Iowa 10: Northwestern didn’t score in the first half but the Wildcats managed to tie the game halfway through the third quarter and then took a 10-7 lead with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Iowa threw an interception on its next possession but Northwestern failed to capitalize, failing going for it on 4th down rather than attempting a long field goal. Iowa managed to tie the game with a field goal at the 1:30 mark, a kick pushed back to 48 yards after a false start. In overtime Northwestern went first and Clayton Thorson delivered a touchdown, while Iowa was unable to pick up a first down as the Wildcats got the win and cover in a key Big Ten West game.

SMU (-6) 31, Cincinnati 28: The Mustangs trailed most of the first half but wound up going up by one by halftime. The third quarter featured missed opportunities on both sides and with just over six minutes remaining in the game SMU delivered a 25-yard touchdown strike to lead 28-20. The Bearcats would answer with a 21-yard touchdown pass on 4th-and-3 and Hayden Moore hit Devin Gray again for the two-point-conversion as well to tie the game with just over two minutes remaining. In overtime SMU incredibly converted a 4th-and-26 play but wound up still settling for a field goal to the chagrin of those laying points with the Mustangs. On a 3rd down play for Cincinnati Moore was intercepted as SMU sealed the narrow road win but fell short of the spread.

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Western Michigan (-1½) 20, Eastern Michigan 17: The Broncos opened at -4 but -3 was the common number most of the week before sliding on game day. Western Michigan led by three at halftime but the game was tied early in the third quarter and then again early in the fourth quarter. Western Michigan had a fumble and a missed field goal late in the fourth quarter to keep the game tied 17-17. The Broncos went first in overtime and reached the 5-yard-line quickly before stalling, settling for a 21-yard field goal. That handed Eastern Michigan a golden opportunity to beat their rival and they wound up with 2nd-and-goal from the 2-yard-line. The Eagles went backwards and then tragically missed a 24-yard kick to lose rather than force a second overtime in a difficult finish for the team and those with underdog tickets.

Michigan State (-6½) 17, Indiana 9: A week after Michigan State backers suffered a tough backdoor cover at their expense the Spartans turned in an improbable cover in a tight Big Ten clash. Indiana’s defense played outstanding but the offense only mustered field goals as the Hoosiers led 9-3 well into the fourth quarter. A pass interference call helped the cause and Michigan State converted a big 4th-and-3 play and eventually wound up in the end zone with six minutes remaining to lead 10-9. Indiana was forced to punt and just past the two minute mark L.J. Scott broke an 18-yard touchdown run that put the Spartans up by eight, just past the home favorite spread for the win and cover.

Pittsburgh (+9½) 24, Duke 17: Duke was up 17-7 with just seconds remaining in the third quarter before Darrin Hall broke a 92-yard touchdown run for the Panthers. Hall scored again in the fourth as Pittsburgh took over in the final frame as two late productive drives for Duke ended in a missed field goal and an interception.

Wisconsin (-24) 38, Maryland 13: The Badgers led 28-3 early in the fourth quarter but Maryland added the next 10 points to make the favorite cover unlikely with a 15-point edge heading into the fourth quarter. With nine minutes remaining Wisconsin completed a touchdown drive to put the game away but they were short of the spread up by 22. In the final minutes the Badgers were running out the clock before a spread result deciding 3rd-and-3 play with just over a minute to go. If Wisconsin netted the first down they would take a knee but Bradrick Shaw was stopped just short and Wisconsin kicked a short field goal for a 25-point final margin, with the total just eclipsed with the late kick as well.

Central Florida (-10½) 31, Navy 21: Perfect on the season UCF opened at -6½ but the line reached -9½ and eventually -10½. The Knights were tested with a 14-14 tie early in the second half before a 79-yard run put UCF up by seven. A field goal made it a 10-point margin heading into the fourth quarter but Navy delivered a touchdown drive to climb to within three early in the fourth. The Knights became a real upset threat getting the ball back with an interception but they fumbled a few plays later. UCF found the end zone with 3:30 remaining to go back up by 10 and Navy’s final two possessions ended on downs and with an interception.

Minnesota (-14) 24, Illinois 17: Up 10-7 through three quarters the favorite cover looked very unlikely but the Gophers nearly stole a second straight fortunate late cover with the common line at -13½ on this game. Illinois tied the game with 10 minutes remaining but Minnesota put together a long scoring drive and then seconds later delivered a defensive score to suddenly lead by 14. It wound up not mattering as Illinois would hit the end zone with 23 seconds left to secure the underdog cover.

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Alabama (-37) 45, Tennessee 7: Tennessee delivered a 97-yard interception return touchdown in the third quarter that looked like it would be enough for the heavy underdog cover. Alabama still led by 28 through three quarters and added a touchdown early in the fourth quarter from backup quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. With less than five minutes remaining the Tide hit on a 60-yard pass play to finish the game up by 38 for a narrow cover on the huge favorite price.

Georgia Tech (-3) 38, Wake Forest 24: This game featured one of the biggest line moves of the week with the Yellow Jackets opening at -8½ and sliding down all the way to just -3 by kickoff. The move looked appropriate early as Wake Forest took a 21-10 lead with a minute remaining in the first half. Georgia Tech managed a long field goal before the break and then broke a 49-yard run for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter but the Yellow Jackets failed going for two and the tie, trailing 21-19. The Demon Deacons surrendered another long run late in the third quarter to fall behind 25-24 heading into the fourth quarter, though still within the underdog spread. In somewhat bizarre fashion Wake Forest would go for it on 4th-and-short in Georgia Tech territory on each of the next three possessions, failing all three times and watching Georgia Tech deliver two fourth quarter touchdown drives to lead 38-24. Wake Forest was again deep in Georgia Tech territory in the final two minutes with a chance to save the cover for the early week backers but an interception ended the threat as the Yellow Jackets delivered a big ACC wins to erase the memories of the close loss from the previous week.

South Florida (-10) 34, Tulane 28: The road favorite spread in this game fell throughout the week but the Bulls managed to lead 20-7 at halftime despite fairly even production. South Florida pulled away in the third quarter taking a 34-7 advantage but an interception sparked a Tulane comeback. After a Wave touchdown South Florida missed a field goal and Tulane had climbed back to within 13 halfway through the fourth quarter. South Florida missed another field goal and Tulane’s rushing attack took just five plays to go 71 yards for the backdoor cover touchdown. Nearly three minutes still remained but Tulane went for the onside kick and failed, handing South Florida great field position. The Bulls would reach the Tulane 9-yard line before taking a knee as the underdog held on late with the comeback cover.

Southern Miss (+1) 34, Louisiana Tech 27: Louisiana Tech led 17-16 heading into the fourth quarter and added a field goal to lead by four. As has been the case in most Louisiana Tech games this season the fourth quarter would feature great drama. Southern Miss reached 1st-and-goal from the Louisiana Tech 5-yard-line but fumbled. The Bulldogs went 96 yards in just over two minutes to seemingly seal the win, up 11 with just over four minutes remaining. The Golden Eagles converted a fourth down in their own territory and eventually hit a 49-yard field goal to sit down eight with 1:23 on the clock. Southern Miss successfully picked up the onside kick but got pushed back with a 15-yard penalty after the play. Two big runs put the Golden Eagles in range for a shot at the end zone, aided by a personal foul penalty on Louisiana Tech. With 31 seconds remaining Keon Howard delivered a 22-yard touchdown pass and the Golden Eagles successfully tied the game with the two-point-conversion. Louisiana Tech attempted a 64-yard field goal as time expired but overtime was necessary. In the first session both teams came up empty with interceptions Southern Miss only needed one play in the second session to go up by seven with another touchdown catch for Korey Robertson. A sack proved too much to overcome for Louisiana Tech, eventually failing on 4th-and-24 as the Golden Eagles stole a big road win in Conference USA.

Arizona (-5½) 45, California 44: The line on this game shifted dramatically as Arizona opened at +1½ before a full seven-point swing by kickoff. The Wildcats led 21-7 at halftime but California had the game knotted at 28-28 by the 10 minute mark of the fourth quarter. Matching field goals kept the game tied but Arizona still had nearly two minutes of clock to work with. The Wildcats crossed midfield but eventually the threat ended with an interception. Both teams delivered touchdowns in the first overtime. Arizona delivered seven in the second session and California quickly answered. Justin Wilcox rolled the dice going for two and the win but the Bears were stopped as Arizona held on for a narrow Pac-12 win, though most on the Wildcats were still spread losers.

West Virginia (-12½) 38, Baylor 36: West Virginia pulled away in the third quarter in Waco turning an 11-point halftime lead into a 25-point advantage up 38-13. Baylor hit a big pass play touchdown and then after an onside kick delivered a big run in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter to get back within the closing spread trailing 38-27 though many were able to lay just -9 on the Mountaineers earlier in the week. West Virginia was held to a 3-and-out and Baylor was within a single score after a field goal near the six-minute mark. The Mountaineers were only able to move the chains once as the Bears got the ball back with still four minutes to play, though needing to go 86 yards. Charlie Brewer converted a big fourth down play in Baylor territory and with 17 seconds remaining the Bears struck for a touchdown, but couldn’t come up with the tying conversion to extend the game.

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