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NFL Close Calls – Week 6

NFL Close Calls – Week 6

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 6 of the NFL regular season.

Philadelphia Eagles (+3) 28, Carolina Panthers 23 (43½): The Panthers and Eagles were knotted up at 10-10 at halftime and out of the break the Eagles took advantage of an interception, actually going up by eight with a two point conversion. Field goals were traded the next two possessions and a second Panthers field goal in the third quarter made it a five-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter. Touchdowns on both sides kept the margin at five in the fourth quarter before two late Panthers drives threatened into Eagles territory. A push on the closing spread of -3 was possible as the Panthers would have gone for two up by one if they found the end zone but the Eagles got an interception just outside the end zone with about three minutes remaining and then on Carolina’s final possession a 4th-and-short pass fell just incomplete past the two-minute warning as Philadelphia’s defense secured the outright underdog win.

Houston Texans (-7½) 33, Cleveland Browns 17 (46): The Texans took command with a 24-3 halftime lead and Houston led by 30 through three quarters. An interception return touchdown for the Browns early in the fourth quarter didn’t make much of a dent in Cleveland’s prospect of covering but the total was one score short of matching or surpassing the closing number. Five consecutive drives ended in punts but with Houston pinned deep the Browns got the ball back at midfield right after the two-minute warning. A pass interference call got the Browns more than half of the yardage and Kevin Hogan delivered a touchdown pass with a minute to go to deliver the ‘over’.

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New England Patriots (-9) 24, New York Jets 17 (48½): The Jets took a 14-0 lead in the second quarter looking like a lock to cover as a heavy underdog in this AFC East clash. By halftime New England had tied the game including getting a Rob Gronkowski touchdown with nine seconds before the break. Gronkowski scored again in the third quarter and an early fourth quarter field goal put New England just past the road favorite spread with a 10-point edge. The Jets appeared to get a touchdown with just over eight minutes remaining but on review it was surprisingly but perhaps correctly ruled a fumble out the end zone for a touchback in a controversial call, keeping the margin at 10 and greatly decreasing the chances for an upset. New York forced a quick punt on defense however and led a field goal drive inside of four minutes to trail by just seven and actually had the ball back in New England territory in the final seconds before the Patriots held on for the win but fell short of the spread. Those on the ‘over’ left disappointed as the Jets couldn’t force overtime as the ‘under’ held.

New Orleans Saints (-5) 52, Detroit Lions 38 (50): The Saints had nearly eclipsed the total themselves with a 45-10 edge a few minutes into the third quarter but the Lions didn’t quit and made things interesting late in an incredibly long game than featured five non-offensive touchdowns. Detroit still trailed 45-24 after back-to-back touchdown drives late in the third quarter and then in the fourth Detroit got a 74-yard punt return touchdown from Jamal Agnew. A first down loss had the Saints in passing mode despite the two-touchdown edge in the fourth quarter and pinned deep Drew Brees was intercepted for a touchdown to suddenly make it a seven-point game. New Orleans was held to a 3-and-out but this time it was the Lions in the shadow of their own end zone and Matthew Stafford fell victim to another pick-six as the Saints went back up by 14. Stafford was intercepted again on the next possession before three more punts were needed to finally burn out the entire remaining clock with the Saints surviving the comeback bid for the win and cover.

Chicago Bears (+5) 27, Baltimore Ravens 24 (39½): The Bears scored with six minutes to go in the third quarter to lead 17-3 with a strong ‘under’ pace but the kickoff was returned for a touchdown to put the Ravens back in the game. Baltimore added a field goal on a short field with about 11 minutes to go to trail 17-13 and a Chicago fumble set the Ravens up in great field position. Things turned sharply back the other direction however as a Joe Flacco interception was returned 90 yards for a Bears touchdown. Baltimore made the ‘over’ a winner with a long field goal inside of three minutes and the Ravens got a miracle with a 77-yard punt return touchdown past the two minute warning. Baltimore tied the game with a successful two-point-conversion throw and overtime was needed in stunning fashion, keeping both side outcomes in play. Both teams had to punt on their first possessions leaving a field goal likely to win it and Mitchell Trubisky led a game-winning drive with Connor Barth connecting for a 40-yard field goal with just over two minutes remaining in overtime.

Washington Redskins (-11) 26, San Francisco 49ers 24 (46): Washington led 17-0 in this game but San Francisco managed to sneak into the end zone just before halftime. The 49ers kept the momentum in the second half tying the game through three quarters with the help of a Washington fumble. Washington hit a field goal and delivered an 84-yard touchdown drive as the favorite cover was back in play in the fourth quarter but Washington missed the extra-point to only lead by nine, a critical play for some with the line opening as low as -9½. C.J. Beathard put hopes of a front door cover to rest however delivering a long 49ers touchdown pass just past the two-minute warning. Down just two the 49ers got the ball back and reached the Washington 40-yard-line before a costly offensive pass interference call made the downs and distance too difficult to reach with the late scoring also sending the game just ‘over’.

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Los Angeles Rams (+1) 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 17 (42): The ‘over’ pace left little doubt with two touchdowns in the first 25 seconds of the game. With a pair of special team scores the Rams had a 24-14 advantage at halftime with Jacksonville missing a field goal just before the break. The Rams fumbled with a scoring opportunity early in the third quarter leading to a field goal for the Jaguars to put the total score at 41, just shy of the over/under number. Jacksonville looked like a threat to score early in the fourth quarter but Blake Bortles was intercepted. A pair of punts followed and the improbable ‘under’ had some life. The Rams picked up a pair of big third downs and hit a field goal at 2:32 to hit 44 while securing the underdog win in a game with more points in the first 15 seconds than the entire second half.

Tennessee Titans (-6½) 36, Indianapolis Colts 22 (46½): The Monday night line was very late to release with the question of Marcus Mariota’s health. The Tennessee quarterback wound up playing even though the line and total both fell from an opening release of -8 and an opening total of 49. The Colts led by 10 early in the third quarter after an interception return touchdown but the Titans chipped away to trail 19-15 heading into the final frame with all spread and total results still in play. Tennessee took the lead back with a 15-play, 87-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter but the Colts delivered a big kickoff return and tied the game with a 52-yard field goal. Mariota completed a 53-yard pass for a touchdown with just over five minutes remaining to seal the ‘over’ and put the Titans up by seven, in between the opening and closing spreads. Indianapolis was poised to answer reaching the Tennessee 13-yard-line, but failing going for it on 4th-and-short. Looking to run out the clock with Indianapolis exhausting its timeouts 2nd year running back Derrick Henry broke loose for a 72-yard touchdown run in the final minute to score a fortunate cover for those on the Titans.

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4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 7

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 7

10/15/2017

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 seventh big college football weekend in mid-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.

UL-Lafayette (-14) 24, Texas State 7: The Ragin’ Cajuns were even with the closing spread just a few minutes into game with a 14-0 advantage but there were no points for over 30 minutes of game clock before Texas State completed an 89-yard drive to stay in the game, scoring with four minutes remaining in the third quarter. Hopes of a comeback for the Bobcats ended as they fumbled on their next possession leading to a field goal for UL-Lafayette, though the margin was just 10 points heading into the fourth quarter. With 10 minutes remaining UL-Lafayette put the game away, getting the past the spread with a touchdown pass and Texas State opted to punt from just inside Ragin’ Cajuns territory with about six minutes remaining on its best late opportunity.

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Ohio (-10) 48, Bowling Green 30: The Bobcats trailed late in the third quarter before Nathan Rourke broke a 75-yard touchdown run to put Ohio in the lead heading into the fourth quarter though still sitting short of the favorite spread. The Bobcats added three fourth quarter touchdowns to pull away with a 48-30 final with the help of two of the four Bowling Green turnovers in the final quarter.

Army (-4) 28, Eastern Michigan 27: Army led by seven through three quarters, failing to complete a pass but dominating on the ground. Eastern Michigan tied the game early in the fourth but Army answered with a 16-play touchdown drive to go back up by seven with five minutes to go. The Eagles converted a big fourth down in their own territory on the final drive and eventually snuck into the end zone in the final minute. Down one the Eagles went for the win and failed but the late score was enough for the slight underdog to cover the spread.

Virginia (-3½) 20, North Carolina 14: The Tar Heels led 14-10 late in the third quarter but Virginia took the lead on an 81-yard pass play. A three-point edge was just short of the closing number but off a Tar Heels turnover the Cavaliers added a short field goal early in the fourth quarter to lead by six. The Tar Heels stayed in the game by forcing a fumble with about three minutes to go to prevent another Cavaliers score but North Carolina didn’t seriously threaten needing a touchdown late, eventually sacked on 4th down just past midfield to effectively end the game.

West Virginia (-5½) 46, Texas Tech 35: The Red Raiders led 35-17 late in the third quarter before a stunning comeback from the hosting Mountaineers. Texas Tech still led by 11 into the fourth quarter and after a missed field goal the Red Raiders were bailed out with an interception from West Virginia. The Mountaineers climbed within three on a 32-yard touchdown run and then forced a 3-and-out on defense. A few plays later West Virginia had a 39-35 lead, though that margin was short of the most of the home favorite spreads on a line that bounced around during the week from -3½ to -6. It wound up not mattering as Texas Tech went backwards and had to punt again and the Mountaineers piled on another touchdown with about three minutes remaining for a deceptive 46-35 victory.

NC State (-13) 35, Pittsburgh 17: NC State and Pittsburgh were tied at halftime and it took until two minutes to go in the third quarter for the Wolfpack to take the lead. Early in the fourth quarter NC State slipped past the favorite spread with a touchdown run. Pittsburgh momentarily got back within the spread hitting a field goal with eight minutes to go but NC State broke a 40 yard run with two minutes remaining while essentially trying to run out the clock, winning by 18.

Michigan (-6½) 27, Indiana 20: The Wolverines led by 10 at halftime but Indiana closed to within three early in the third quarter before an exchange of eight consecutive punts, including seven 3-and-outs. Early in the fourth quarter Karan Higdon broke a 59-yard touchdown run to put Michigan back up by 10 and it looked like that might hold with both offenses struggling. Michigan allowed a 53-yard punt return however to put Indiana in the red zone and with about three minutes remaining the Hoosiers were back within three. Indiana managed to hold on defense and in the final seconds got in range for a game tying field goal. Any momentum the Hoosiers had was quickly erased as Higdon put Michigan up by seven on the first play of overtime and despite reaching 1st-and-goal from the Michigan 1-yard-line Indiana was stopped as the Wolverines escaped Bloomington with a win and a narrow cover for most on a line that did hit -7 and even briefly -7½ before falling back down and early in the week was as low as -5.

Marshall (-13) 35. Old Dominion 3: Marshall was just short of the favorite spread heading into the fourth quarter but with the help of a defensive score the Thundering Herd scored three touchdowns in the first five minutes of the final frame to pull away for a more decisive final result.

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Florida State (-7) 17, Duke 10: This ACC game was a 10-10 tie through three quarters but led by Cam Akers the Seminoles completed a 91-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter to lead by seven, matching the road favorite spread. A pair of punts on each side followed but Duke was a threat to tie late reaching a new set of downs in the final 30 seconds from the Florida State 32-yard-line. The game ended with three straight incomplete passes as most wound up with a push though some early backers of the Seminoles might have found -6½.

Wyoming (-1) 28, Utah State: An underdog most of the week Wyoming closed as a slight favorite on a game that wound up tied through three quarters. The Aggies led 23-16 early in the fourth but Wyoming added a field goal and then took a 26-23 lead with a 28-yard passing touchdown just after the four-minute mark. Utah State had a fumble and then took a safety on its final two possessions as the Cowboys escaped with the narrow Mountain West win.

Oklahoma (-8½) 29, Texas 24: Oklahoma dominated the first half in the Red River Rivalry with a 20-0 edge and a massive yardage edge but after the Sooners settled for a short field goal Texas got a long kickoff return. With two personal foul penalties on Oklahoma the Longhorns were handed 30 more yards and reached the end zone about three minutes before halftime. In the final minute before halftime Oklahoma was on the doorstep to score again but Baker Mayfield threw his first interception of the season. Texas managed to get a field goal as time expired to only trail by 10 at the break. Late in the third quarter Texas climbed within the spread trailing 23-17 and actually took the lead briefly with a touchdown in the middle of the fourth quarter. Oklahoma quickly answered to lead by five, failing going for two on a play that could have reached an early week spread that hovered around -7. Texas was stopped on downs but Oklahoma couldn’t run out the clock as the Longhorns made a late threat near midfield before a failed final lateral play.

Mississippi State (-22½) 35, BYU 10: Mississippi State completely dominated the yardage in this revenge spot but three turnovers helped to keep BYU in the game as the Bulldogs led by 18 at the half and still 18 through three quarters, just short of a home favorite spread that reached up to -24. BYU threw a fourth quarter interception in Mississippi State territory and the Bulldogs turned that turnover into seven more points midway through the final frame, enough to just barely slip by the favorite spread.

Memphis (-3½) 30, Navy 27: Memphis led 20-19 through three quarters and the Tigers delivered a 99-yard touchdown drive to start the fourth quarter and then off one of Navy’s five turnovers Memphis added a field goal to lead by 11 with 11 minutes to go. Memphis was poised to score again but a fumble in Navy territory gave the Midshipmen new life and Navy delivered a long touchdown drive, hitting the end zone with just over three minutes to go. The two-point conversion loomed large for the pointspread result and Navy succeeded for a three-point final margin, at least netting a push for Navy backers on a spread that opened at +5½ before dipping to +3 and climbing back up to +3½.

LSU (+6) 27, Auburn 23: Auburn led 23-7 late in the second quarter but LSU found the end zone just before halftime to only trail by nine. Six straight punts opened the second half and LSU returned that sixth punt for a touchdown to trail by just two early in the fourth quarter. LSU took the outright lead with a field goal with just over two minutes to go and added another three points for good measure for the upset in comeback fashion.

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Alabama (-37) 41, Arkansas 9: Alabama eventually pulled away from Arkansas, though the favorite cover looked unlikely with just a 28-point edge into the fourth quarter. Handed good field position in the final frame the Tide added 10 points on a pair of short drives to slip past the inflated number but Arkansas spoiled the result with a late touchdown to lose by only 32, incredibly close enough to cover in a division game though the Tide were favored by as low -30½ before a significant Saturday line move that left the middle available on this outcome.

New Mexico State (-5) 35, Georgia Southern 27: Favored by as many as eight most of the week New Mexico State trailed most of this Sun Belt game, down three at halftime and down by six through three quarters. The Aggies took a 28-27 lead early in the fourth quarter and with two minutes left New Mexico State scored on a 3rd down play in a spread outcome deciding play, winning by eight instead of the four point margin a field goal would have given the team had Georgia Southern held defensively on that play.

Southern Miss (-23) 24, UTEP 0: Scoring 24 points didn’t seem likely to be enough to cover in this Conference USA clash and getting that many looked unlikely early as it would have been just 7-0 at halftime if not for a UTEP fumble in the final minute of the second quarter at its own two-yard-line. The Golden Eagles didn’t score again until the fourth quarter and a field goal with just three minutes remaining proved to be the difference in getting just past the favorite spread.

North Texas (+1½) 29, Texas-San Antonio 26: The Roadrunners led 20-16 through three quarters but North Texas took the lead early in the fourth quarter as a very slight underdog. Texas San Antonio connected for a 46-yard pass play to lead by four with just over three minutes to play. North Texas failed going for it on fourth down just ahead of midfield but they held on defense to get the ball back. Pinned back at their own 2-yard-line the Mean Green went 98 yards in just over a minute for the win.

Texas A&M (+3½) 19, Florida 17: Florida led 17-10 early in the fourth quarter but Texas A&M delivered steady production while featuring great defense to net three field goals in the fourth quarter, slipping ahead 19-17 and sealing the game with a late interception.

Michigan State (-4) 30, Minnesota 27: Michigan State was in command in Minneapolis but the Spartans settled for a pair of short field goals in the third quarter to keep the game in range for the Gophers with a 17 point margin. Minnesota took advantage of a turnover early in the fourth quarter to climb within 10 but Michigan State answered two minutes later. The Gophers delivered another touchdown drive to get back within 10 and then Michigan State missed a field goal working on a short field after a failed onside kick. With about a minute to go the Gophers found the end zone again to climb within the spread for a three-point final margin but they missed on another onside kick try.

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NFL Close Calls – Week 5

NFL Close Calls – Week 5

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 (-3½) 19, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14 (54½): Week 5 was expected to open with a shootout between great passing offenses going against struggling pass defenses. After a slow start 10 points in the final four minutes of the first half put New England up 13-7 and at least kept popular ‘over’ bets in play. The third quarter didn’t feature a change of pace as the Patriots settled for another field goal, leading 16-7 to sit ahead of a favorite spread that reached as high as -5½ before sliding downward Thursday afternoon and evening. New England fumbled on a Tom Brady sack in Tampa Bay territory late in the third quarter but the Buccaneers couldn’t take advantage with a missed field goal. Tampa Bay had the same result on its next possession, going 84 yards but watching Nick Folk miss from just 31 yards with about six minutes remaining in the game to all but lock up the ‘under’. The Patriots were forced to punt and Buccaneers backers had renewed hope as Jameis Winston led a touchdown drive just ahead of the two-minute-warning. Folk made the extra point for a two-point deficit. Tampa Bay had just one timeout remaining as they had to try the onside kick. New England recovered and started in great field position, eventually adding a 48-yard field goal for the five-point final margin. The Buccaneers threatened in the final seconds getting one play from the New England 19-yard-line but there was confusion on the routes towards the end zone for an incomplete pass that had little chance as the spread results were mixed depending on the timing.

Los Angeles Chargers (+3) 27, New York Giants 22 (46): In a battle of competitive 0-4 squads the Giants took an early 9-0 lead with a safety and a touchdown run before injuries started to pile up for the offense. The Chargers managed a field goal in the final seconds before halftime to lead 10-9 before both teams managed touchdowns late in the third quarter to leave Los Angeles up by one as a slight underdog heading into the final frame. The Giants delivered a big play strike for what will wind up as Odell Beckham’s last touchdown of the season with a 48-yard catch and run to lead 22-17, missing going for two with still more than 13 minutes to play. The Chargers managed to climb back within the underdog spread with a field goal just after the five minute mark and then managed to steal the win with a 3rd-and-7 sack of Eli Manning at the 11-yard-line that led to a fumble recovered by the Chargers. Three plays later the Chargers took the lead 27-22, a score that clinched a narrow win for the ‘over’ and the defense intercepted Manning just across midfield in the final minute to seal the first win for the franchise as the Los Angeles Chargers.

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Cincinnati Bengals (-3) 20, Buffalo Bills 16 (39½): The Bengals had a severe production edge in this AFC clash but with three costly turnovers it was Buffalo with the lead 13-10 heading into the fourth quarter. Cincinnati responded with an early fourth quarter touchdown drive to lead by four, just past the home favorite spread. A marginal punt coupled with a strong return and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty set the Bills up at the Cincinnati 12-yard-line with about 10 minutes remaining. The Bengals held Buffalo to a field goal, still leading 17-16, though now on the wrong side of the spread. Andy Dalton survived another close call for a turnover and the led the Bengals into the red zone with Randy Bullock hitting from 29 yards with just over three minutes remaining to restore the four-point advantage. Cincinnati’s defense stepped up with a 1st down sack and then intercepted Tyrod Taylor on a forced 3rd-and-long throw to wrap up the win and narrow cover, as well as keeping the game just ‘under’ a low total.

Miami Dolphins (-1) 16, Tennessee Titans 10 (41½): This game featured awful offense as while the Dolphins scored 10 points in the first quarter they did so on a 19-yard drive for a field goal and with a fumble return touchdown. The Titans behind Matt Cassel added a field goal in the second quarter on a drive of -3 yards and despite back-to-back false starts to go from the Miami 1-yard-line to the Miami 11-yard-line the Titans added a touchdown pass from for the first offensive touchdown of the game more than halfway through the third quarter. Two punts on each side followed before the Dolphins got the ball back just before the end of the third quarter. Jay Cutler and Jay Ajayi delivered a touchdown drive for a 16-10 edge with about 10 minutes remaining but the extra-point was missed to leave the door open for the Titans. Tennessee had three possessions the rest of the game and managed a total of just 36 yards, never even getting across their own 40-yard-line.

Indianapolis Colts (-1) 26, San Francisco 49ers 23 (44): The Colts had a 16-6 edge heading into the fourth quarter as the favorite and ‘under’ wagers appeared to be in good shape. San Francisco managed an early fourth quarter field goal to trim the margin to seven points but Jacoby Brissett led a six-play touchdown drive to answer for a 23-9 edge. It took less than two minutes for a struggling 49ers offense to find the end zone to get back within seven points and the defense forced a punt. On a 14-play drive the 49ers eventually connected on 4th down in the red zone, scoring a touchdown with just 20 seconds on the clock with the extra-point sending the game to overtime. An improbable ‘over’ also connected with the late score regardless of the overtime scoring. Looking for a touchdown on the first possession of the extra session Brissett was intercepted on a 1st down play in the end zone, his second overtime interception of the season. Only needing a field goal the 49ers were called for a critical holding penalty just past midfield and eventually had to punt. 49ers backers were looking for a tie but the Colts got a big run by Marlon Mack to reach field goal range and Adam Vinatieri delivered a game and spread winning kick from 51 yards.

Philadelphia Eagles (-6) 34, Arizona Cardinals 7 (44½): The spread result in the NFC tilt offered little drama as the Eagles had a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and led 31-7 in the third quarter. One more touchdown would push the game ‘over’ with about 21 minutes to go but the Cardinals failed going for it on 4th down in Eagles territory at about the 11 minute mark. Philadelphia then burned more than nine minutes of clock to reach the two-minute-warning, putting in a 28-yard field goal that kept the game just ‘under’. Arizona looked like they delivered a meaningless score late to hit the ‘over’ but a 28-yard J.J. Nelson catch and run into the end zone initially ruled a touchdown was reversed on replay review, with the ruling a fumble before crossing the end zone with the ball going out of bounds for a touchback.

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Seattle Seahawks (+2½) 16, Los Angeles Rams 10 (46½): This division battle was scoreless after the first quarter but offense picked up with 20 points in the second quarter for a 10-10 tie at halftime. The Rams botched two scoring chances in the third quarter with a missed field goal and an interception in Seattle territory as the Seahawks took a 13-10 lead into the fourth quarter, closing as a slight underdog but with the game at just +1 or even much of the week. The Rams had another interception and a fumble near midfield in the fourth quarter and Seattle added another field goal to effectively seal the cover on the closing line with just over a minute remaining. Jared Goff connected for two big plays to give the Rams a shot, getting 2nd-and-10 from the Seattle 20-yard-line with 35 seconds to go. Three incomplete passes ended the threat however.

Green Bay Packers (+2½) 35, Dallas Cowboys 31 (52): The Cowboys led 21-6 early but just 21-15 through three quarters with the Packers bizarrely missing on two Mason Crosby extra-points. Green Bay took the lead on the first play of the fourth quarter to complete an 88-yard touchdown drive, leading 22-21 as a very slight underdog. The Cowboys answered with a quick field goal to lead by two and forced a 3-and-out. With about 10 minutes remaining in the game Dak Prescott was intercepted with Damarious Randall delivering a 21-yard return to put the Packers in front 28-24, failing going for the two-point-conversion. Dallas delivered a 79-yard drive that took nearly nine minutes of clock and included consecutive overturned replay reviews on a critical 1st down pick up. With just over a minute remaining Dak Prescott scrambled into the end zone to put Dallas up by three. Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones were able to get the Packers into field goal range and with 11 seconds left the Packers got the win on a Davante Adams catch as the Packers escaped with another win in Dallas.

Minnesota Vikings (-3½) 20, Chicago Bears 17 (41): The line on this game came out late in the week at -2½ but quickly reached -3½ with news that Sam Bradford would return for the Vikings. Bradford didn’t last long but Case Keenum played well in relief and after a 3-2 edge at halftime with a clear ‘under’ trajectory the Vikings had two third quarter touchdowns surrounding a Chicago touchdown on a fake punt pass from Pat O’Donnell as the ‘over’ was back in play with the Vikings up 17-9. Mitch Trubisky delivered the Bears to his first touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter on a deflected pass caught by Zach Miller and with a nifty two-point-conversion play the rookie quarterback tied the game himself. The Vikings reached Chicago territory just ahead of the two-minute-warning but had to punt and on 1st down Trubisky had a big rookie mistake with an interception setting the Vikings up at the Chicago 28-yard-line. With some kicking woes this season the Vikings made a bit of an effort to find the end zone but eventually were close enough to burn the rest of the clock and allowed Kai Forbath to connect from 26 yards for the win. The field goal confirmed the ‘under’ but left most on the Bears still collecting at +3½.

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Nelly’s and our featured handicapper team delivered a big NFL Week 5. Nelly’s went 3-0 in our NFL 2/3 as part of a perfect 7-0 weekend for our phone service that included a Saturday 3* Top Play winner. Maximum Sports had his fourth winning NFL Sunday in five weeks with a big 4-1 day. Bobby Dalton turned in a 3-0 Sunday and also won Monday night. Point Train hit his 6-unit Best Bet to now have won six of his last seven 6-unit and higher selections, and the Big E won his Monday Night 10* Biggie! NFL Key Selections in the Green Sheet also went 4-1 with Rating 5 and Rating 4 Keys. Don’t miss Week 6 winners in pro football!

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4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 6

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 6

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 sixth big college football weekend to open 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.

Iowa (-16) 45, Illinois 16: Iowa trailed until finding the end zone with seconds left before halftime and then well into the third quarter an 89-yard interception return put the Hawkeyes ahead 24-13. Illinois responded with a field goal to sit halfway to the closing spread heading into the fourth quarter down 24-16, though early in the week +18 was available on the Illini. Iowa took over in the final frame eventually netting three touchdowns to pull away for a misleading 45-16 final in a game where Illinois actually had a slight yardage edge but also turned it over four times.

Western Michigan (-7) 71, Buffalo 68: Games like this are why are the college overtime system is rightfully criticized as Buffalo and Western Michigan went through seven extra sessions to decide this MAC contest. Buffalo had an early 14-10 edge as a home underdog but Western Michigan led by 10 heading into the fourth quarter. The Bulls managed to score twice in the first several minutes of the fourth quarter to lead by four before Western Michigan answered with less than five minutes remaining. In the final minute Buffalo tied the game settling for a 34-yard field goal. Western Michigan was able to get a 52-yard field goal attempt off as time expired but the kick was blocked and overtime was needed. There was drama in the first session as Buffalo kicked a short field goal but with a personal foul penalty on Western Michigan the Bulls took the points off the board and got seven on the next play. Touchdowns followed the next three possessions before Buffalo fumbled on the 2-yard-line starting session three. In position to win but not cover Western Michigan missed a 29-yard field goal. The spread result was still in play with the requirement to go for two after every score starting in the third overtime. In session four both teams got 8 points, in session five both teams ended up with 6. Exhausted defenses offered little resistance with quick scores in session six but neither team could hit the conversion. Opening session seven Buffalo had to settle for a field goal, certainly welcome result for those on the Bulls plus the points and in four plays Western Michigan rushed into the end zone to end the game with an outrageous 71-68 final score with 63 first downs and over 1,300 total yards to skew the statistics for both teams the rest of the season.

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Syracuse (-3½) 27, Pittsburgh 24: Syracuse pulled away in the third quarter with a 20-13 edge heading into the final frame and they still sat past the slight favorite spread after the Panthers connected for a 56-yard field goal. Syracuse hit a big play to go up by 11 with 11 minutes to go but Pittsburgh responded with a touchdown and a key two-point conversion to make it just a three-point margin.  The Orange eventually reached the Pittsburgh 5-yard-line in the final minute of the game but opted to go for it on 4th-and-short rather than kicking a spread-saving field goal. Pittsburgh didn’t advance much getting the ball with less than a minute remaining and 95-yards to go but the narrow underdog cover was earned with that fourth quarter two-point conversion.

Appalachian State (-13½) 45, New Mexico State 31: These Sun Belt foes were knotted at 17-17 through three quarters before a wild final frame. The two-touchdown underdog took a seven-point lead early in the fourth and after an exchange of touchdowns in just over a minute of game clock there was still a seven-point edge for the Aggies with just over nine minutes remaining. Turnovers keyed back-to-back short field touchdown drives for Appalachian State, taking a 38-31 lead with just over five minutes to go. New Mexico State reached the Appalachian State 26-yard line on its next drive but went for it on fourth down and came up short. Mostly trying to run out the clock the Mountaineers broke a 56-yard run for a touchdown to slip by the closing spread and created the sixth New Mexico State turnover of the game with an interception across midfield in the final two minutes.

Clemson (-21) 28, Wake Forest 14: Clemson was a bit sluggish after taking a 14-0 lead early in the game. The Tigers lost Kelly Bryant to an ankle injury but still eventually pulled ahead 28-0 early in the fourth quarter. With the game in hand the excellent Clemson defense relaxed a bit and Wake Forest produced two touchdown drives in the final nine minutes to steal the underdog cover.

Purdue (-3½) 31, Minnesota 17: The Boilermakers kicked a short field goal with about 10 minutes remaining to lead 16-14 before a weather delay of more than an hour. Minnesota put together a 17-play drive that included two fourth down conversions but ultimately settled for a field goal to lead 17-16 as a slight underdog with just over two minutes remaining. With the help of a great kickoff return Purdue only needed four plays to go back in front, getting a touchdown and a two-point conversion to lead by seven. Minnesota threatened to force overtime reaching the Purdue 27-yard line in the final minute but an interception was returned 76 yards to seal the Purdue victory and cover.

Navy (-10) 48, Air Force 45: Navy led 38-24 through three quarters but Air Force turned in an 89-yard touchdown drive to get back within seven and then held Navy to a field goal. Air Force delivered another quick touchdown drive to trail by just three with about four minutes remaining and then forced a 3-and-out. Air Force delivered a rare pass strike for a 51-yard touchdown and the lead with fewer than two minutes on the clock. Navy turned in a big 4th down conversion in its own territory and eventually completed a 75-yard touchdown drive with 15 seconds left on the clock to get the win though the underdog Falcons held the cover.

Northern Illinois (-23½) 24, Kent State 3: Five straight punts followed a Huskies field goal late in the third quarter with Northern Illinois just short of the favorite spread. With about nine minutes to go Marcus Childers was intercepted in the end zone to take away a scoring threat as well. The Flashes didn’t advance significantly and later in the fourth quarter failed going for it on downs just past midfield. With great field position the Huskies promptly fumbled and when they got the ball back they were able to run out the clock, ending the game at the Kent State 40-yard-line.

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LSU (-2) 17, Florida 16: The line on this SEC crossover clash was a roller coaster all week and the timing wound up being critical.  Florida opened at -6 of -6½ at many outlets before a steep fall to -2 by Friday night. Saturday morning the game opened back up at most spots with LSU -2 with that line fluctuating down to -1 at times. Off an embarrassing loss LSU took the early lead and led 17-3 early in the third quarter. The Gators climbed back into the game with back-to-back touchdown drives late in the third quarter but Eddy Pineiro missed the extra-point on the second score to leave LSU in front 17-16. Five straight punts filled the fourth quarter before Florida had to go for it on 4th down from its own 25-yard-line with a pass falling incomplete for a Tigers win but an inconclusive spread result.

Auburn (-21) 44, Mississippi 23: The Tigers were in command with a 35-3 halftime edge and the lead was still 31 points heading into the fourth quarter. The Rebels wound up with 429 yards and kept at it with an early fourth quarter touchdown. Down by 27 Mississippi scored a touchdown with about three minutes remaining to trail by 21 and opted to go for two, in a critical play for anyone involved on the pointspread that opened and closed right at -21 but reached -22½ during the week. Auburn’s defense held on the conversion as did the 21-point final margin for a closing line push.

Miami, FL (-2½) 24, Florida State 20: Offense was tough to come by in a big ACC clash as Florida State led 3-0 at halftime. Miami took advantage of a turnover for a short field touchdown and took a 10-3 edge into the fourth quarter despite a solid production deficit.  The Seminoles delivered their first touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter and took the lead with a field goal with about seven minutes remaining. Miami answered with a 75-yard touchdown drive to lead by four, just past the slight road favorite spread. James Blackman didn’t look like a freshman in leading a great late drive to put Florida State ahead with just over a minute remaining. Miami had the answer however eventually connecting for a 23-yard pass that was narrowly run into the end zone (surviving a lengthy replay review) with only six seconds remaining for the win, with the extra-point also sealing a narrow cover as well on a line that was -3 much of the week.

Virginia Tech (-14½) 23, Boston College 10: The numbers weren’t dramatically far apart in this game but the Hokies pulled away in the second quarter to lead by 14 at the half. Virginia Tech only managed three points each in the third and fourth quarters however.  Boston College connected for a big play for a touchdown with just over five minutes remaining to get just inside the underdog spread.

Houston (-10) 35, SMU 22: This line climbed sharply to reach double-digits on Saturday and the halftime advantage was nine points for Houston right in the middle of those numbers with the game opening at just -5 for the Cougars. SMU closed to within two points in the third quarter but allowed a 52-yard touchdown a few plays later. The Mustangs stayed close after hitting a late third quarter field goal to trail by six heading into the fourth quarter. Houston delivered an early fourth quarter touchdown to lead by 13. SMU wound up with a big yardage edge but couldn’t cash in late with the final three drives ending on downs at the Houston 34-yard-line, intercepted at the Houston 1-yard-line, and intercepted at the Houston 6-yard-line as the cover eluded a deserving underdog.

Wisconsin (-12½) 38, Nebraska 17: The Badgers scored early on a long interception return but Nebraska proved up for the challenge through three quarters with the game tied until a 93-yard touchdown drive was completed by the Badgers with about 20 minutes remaining in the game. That put Wisconsin up seven but still short of covering the hefty road favorite spread. Wisconsin’s defense was stout the rest of the way and the running game took over leading to two fourth quarter touchdown drives for the Badgers to pull away.

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Texas (-5) 40, Kansas State 34: Texas wound up with twice as many first downs as Kansas State but this was a tie game through three quarters and the Wildcats were in front by three with an early fourth quarter field goal. Texas missed a field goal after a 73-yard drive but forced a punt to get the ball back with four minutes to go. The Longhorns stalled in the red zone and kicked a field goal to tie the game with just fewer than two minutes remaining. Texas quickly got an interception and lined up what would have been a game-winning kick but the attempt missed from 45 yards and overtime was needed. After matching touchdowns in the first overtime Kansas State went backwards and missed a field goal in the second session, going backwards after a pair of costly holding calls. The missed kicks wound up paying off for some Longhorns backers with distrust in the kicking game Texas didn’t get conservative only needing three points and wound up in the end zone on a rush that likely could have been blown dead just outside the goal line. The pile pushed in for six points to get Texas a win by six, enough to cover early week and closing lines, although Saturday morning the line did reach -6½ and -7 before falling back down as some on Kansas State held on for the underdog cover.

Central Florida (-14½) 51, Cincinnati 23: The Knights continued a dominant start to the season, past the road favorite spread by halftime with a 37-16 advantage with that edge growing to a 28-point margin late in the third quarter before a weather delay. With the outcome in hand and a lengthy delay continuing the game was called, certainly making those with a ticket on the Knights or the ‘over’ more than a bit upset with a no-action result for an incomplete game.

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Stanford (-3) 23, Utah 20: This Saturday Pac-12 contest was mostly a match of field goal kickers with the Cardinal up 16-13 through three quarters, right even with a closing spread of -3 though Sunday night and Monday Stanford was as high as a -6½-point favorite. Stanford was still -4 through Saturday night before emerging Sunday morning at -3½ and slipping to -3 mid-day, even briefly sliding to -2½ for a few moments before kickoff at a few outlets. Early in the fourth quarter Bryce Love added to his monster start to the season with a 68-yard touchdown run to put the Cardinal up by 10. In the final minute Utah completed a 95-yard touchdown drive that featured a 4th down conversion via penalty, scoring the underdog cover for many on the Utes.

Washington (-29) 38, California 7: The Huskies completely dominated the statistics in this late night game but with a 31-0 edge a fumble was returned for a touchdown to put the Bears on the board and within the hefty underdog number late in the third quarter. California went for the on-side kick and Washington was set-up in great field position and the Huskies converted a pair of third downs to find the end zone, getting back ahead of the spread. In the final seconds the Bears were a serious threat for the backdoor cover reaching the Washington 13-yard-line before back-to-back sacks with the game ending in a fumble.

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4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 5

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 5

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 fifth big college football weekend to close September. 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.

Pittsburgh (-20) 42, Rice 10: Taking some frustration out after a disappointing start to the season Pittsburgh opened up a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and made it 28-0 at halftime. Rice regrouped in the second half with defensive stops and two scoring drives to pull within the spread through three quarters, trailing 28-10. The Panthers would prevail however scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter while Rice had a pair of fourth quarter interceptions in Pittsburgh territory.

South Florida (-21½) 61, East Carolina 31: A three-touchdown underdog that scores in the 30s has to feel pretty good about its chances to cover and early on East Carolina traded punches with the undefeated Bulls, trailing just 31-24 at halftime even with allowing a long interception return touchdown. Deep into the third quarter it was still a seven-point game but South Florida scored 17 points in about five minutes of game clock with the second two scores coming on drives of just seven and 33 yards. The Bulls added another late score to make for a rather misleading 30-point final margin and road favorite cover.

NC State (-14) 33, Syracuse 25: In what some figured could be a letdown game NC State took control early against Syracuse with a 26-7 edge at halftime. The Orange picked up 10 points in the third quarter however to get back in the game before NC State completed a 10-play touchdown drive with about 10 minutes to go, sitting just past the favorite spread with a 16-point lead. Syracuse opted to go for it on 4th-and-10 from the NC State 15 and failed but pinned deep the Wolfpack were forced to punt and a strong return set-up the Orange for a 33-yard touchdown drive to climb within the spread with just fewer than five minutes remaining. The Orange got the two-conversion to make it a one-score game but the on-side kick failed and NC State was able to move the chains enough to run out the clock.

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Houston (-10½) 20, Temple 13: The Cougars led 20-0 early in the third quarter but Temple proved resilient. The Owls added a field goal and then got a big defensive stop to force a punt, eventually delivering an 85-yard touchdown drive to close to within 10 points and just within the underdog spread early in the fourth quarter. Temple added another field goal and eventually had the ball back near midfield but the final two Temple drives ended on downs and then with a late interception.

Florida State (-7½) 26, Wake Forest 19: The Seminoles lost on the opening and closing number but much of the week -7 was the price. At no point in the game until the final minute did Florida State lead by seven however as many on the underdog Demon Deacons left with a tough-luck push with Wake Forest looking like the superior squad most of the way. Wake Forest led 19-16 early in the fourth quarter before Florida State managed a tying field goal. A marginal Wake Forest punt with the Demon Deacons pinned deep gave the Seminoles great field position heading into the final minute and on 1st down the James Blackman hit Auden Tate for a 40-yard touchdown. Wake Forest made things interesting late reaching the Florida State 38-yard-line in the final seconds but Florida State escaped and a missed extra-point for Wake Forest in the second quarter wound up proving to be an important play relative to the number as well.

Wisconsin (-16) 33, Northwestern 24: The Badgers were short of the spread up 21-10 through three quarters, recovering from a sloppy first half. The Badgers added a field goal in the third quarter and then returned an interception for a touchdown to suddenly slip past the favorite spread with a 31-10 advantage. Wisconsin’s defense let up in the final minutes as the Wildcats put together back-to-back touchdown drives and actually had the ball back down just seven in the final minute. The Wildcats wound up being caught with a sack in the end zone for a safety that effectively ended the game but the late charge was enough for the underdog cover.

Navy (-7½) 31, Tulsa 21: The home underdog Hurricane took a 14-0 lead after the first quarter but Navy took over from there, getting back in front 17-14 late in the third quarter and getting past the spread early in the fourth quarter, eventually scoring 31 consecutive points. Tulsa would finally answer with seven minutes to go to get back within 10 but the road favorite cover held as Navy stopped Tulsa on fourth down in Navy territory late in the game.

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SMU (-17) 49, Connecticut 28: The Huskies connected for a 59-yard pass play with a successful two-point conversion to tie this game early in the fourth quarter. SMU fended off the upset threat and wound up with a very fortunate cover scoring three touchdowns in the final twelve minutes with the cover clinching score following Connecticut going for it on 4th-and-9 from its own 29-yard-line. SMU scored one play later and then Connecticut fumbled on its kickoff return to spoil any chance of getting back within the number.

Arkansas (-18) 42, New Mexico State 24: The Razorbacks led 21-0 in the second quarter but New Mexico State climbed back in the game. The Aggies were down just 11 early in the third quarter, sitting in position to cover on a spread that opened at +16½ but reached as high as +19½ much of the week before settling at +18. Things fell apart after a great drive to start the second half however as Arkansas scored back-to-back touchdowns surrounding a New Mexico State fumble, leading by 25 at the start of the final quarter. New Mexico State scored with relative ease to cut the margin to exactly 18 points again and ultimately waved the white flag with a pair of late punts.

UL-Monroe (-8½) 51, Coastal Carolina 43: The Warhawks were opening line and closing line losers last week but -7 was a common number on this game Saturday afternoon. It didn’t appear that the number would matter as UL-Monore went up by 15 in the third quarter but Coastal Carolina scored early in the fourth, though failing going for two, to trial by nine. That score held for more than 12 minutes but the Chanticleers delivered another touchdown drive with just over three minutes remaining to cut the margin to just two points. The defense forced a punt but only 20 seconds remained when Coastal Carolina got the ball back on its own 33-yard-line. After a pair of incomplete passes one play remained and lateral attempts turned to a fumble which the Warhawks returned for a touchdown. With time expired the extra-point try was unnecessary for an eight-point final margin and a number of close call wagers that shifted on that final play.

Louisiana Tech (-11½) 34, South Alabama 16: A week after Louisiana Tech had its lead erased in the fourth quarter the Bulldogs managed to pull away in the fourth quarter this week. Through three quarters the double-digit favorite led by just one at 17-16 but Louisiana Tech doubled its score in the final frame including scoring 10 points in the final five minutes to slip past the favorite spread with the decisive touchdown following the Jaguars going for it on 4th down deep in their own territory.

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Oregon (-17) 45, California 24: The Ducks jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter but California’s defense adjusted and kept the Bears in the game, eventually getting back within a single-score with about 11 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, down 24-17. After climbing back into the game the Bears allowed a 68-yard touchdown run to take away any momentum the underdog had gained and the only California turnover of the game followed with a fumble a few plays later, setting up an 18-yard touchdown drive to put Oregon up by 21. California answered to get within the late week spread trailing 38-24 with fewer than five minutes remaining. The Bears forced a punt on defense but California was forced to go for it on 4th-and-10 from its own 23-yard line. They failed and Oregon added the cover-stealing touchdown with just over two minutes remaining. The Ducks finished the game without Justin Herbert who broke his collarbone and will be out for several weeks.

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4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 4

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 4

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 big 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.

Utah (-4½) 30, Arizona 24: The Utes grabbed the lead early in this game with a few big plays, taking advantage of a big punt return and an Arizona fumble heading into the end zone to lead 13-3. Arizona got back within three with a late second quarter touchdown and had a chance to tie the game at the half but a 43-yard field goal missed. Both teams added third quarter touchdowns and Utah took command late in the third quarter with an interception return touchdown to lead again by 10. Early in the fourth quarter Arizona failed on 4th-and-1 from the Utah 25 and then on its next possession had a field goal attempt blocked for more missed opportunities. The Arizona defense kept them in the game holding Utah to a field goal and the Wildcats got within six finally completing a touchdown drive with just fewer than three minutes remaining. The Wildcats subsequently got the on-side kick to start at the Utah 35-yard-line but again fumbled following a strong first down gain to the 20-yard-line. Arizona’s defense again held but getting the ball back Arizona promptly threw an interception for their fifth turnover in a game where the host had significant yardage edges, particularly on the ground, despite the road favorite escaping with a very narrow win and cover. Those on the ‘over’ also felt the pain of all the missed scoring chances with the ‘under’ holding on a total that fell to as low as 55 before climbing back up to close at 60½.

Duke (+2½) 27, North Carolina 17: A big play just before halftime tied the game for North Carolina and through three quarters the Tar Heels led 17-13, just past the very slight home favorite spread, though it was Duke that was a slight road favorite most of the week. Six straight punts followed the third quarter touchdown for North Carolina before the Blue Devils put together a 74-yard touchdown drive to lead by three with about six minutes to play, with some early week spreads hitting as a high Duke -3. The Tar Heels looked like a threat to answer crossing midfield but Chazz Surratt wound up being intercepted and the return went all the way the other direction as Duke went up by 10. It wouldn’t have impacted the spread for most but North Carolina reached the Duke 13-yard-line in the final minute but Duke got the stop to secure the win and cover, now 4-0 S/U and ATS on the season after finishing just 4-8 S/U last season.

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Michigan (-13½) 28, Purdue 10: The Boilermakers led 10-7 at halftime and still were in position to clearly cover trailing 14-10 through three quarters. Michigan took over in the fourth however with two touchdown drives to go up by 18 with about seven minutes remaining. The young Wolverines defense held Purdue to just 15 net yards on six second half possessions to get the win and cover playing most of the game with backup quarterback John O’Korn.

Ohio (+1½) 27, Eastern Michigan 20: An interception return touchdown put Ohio up 10-6 just before halftime and the Bobcats led 13-6 through three quarters. Eastern Michigan tied the game early in the fourth quarter and Ohio botched two chances to win in regulation with a fumble at the end of a 29-yard pass play and then a missed field goal in the final two minutes. Eastern Michigan went first in overtime and scored on 1st down but Ohio matched that touchdown and going first in the second session they successfully converted two 3rd downs for the go-ahead touchdown. Eastern Michigan failed on 4th-and-4 as the Bobcats took a big road win in MAC play.

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Nebraska (-13) 27, Rutgers 17: A defensive touchdown right after halftime put Rutgers ahead 17-14 but Nebraska was able to take over with a 97-yard touchdown drive and a field goal to lead by seven early in the fourth quarter. Starting with good field position on an early fourth quarter drive Nebraska reached the Rutgers 10-yard line but had to settle for a short field goal to only go up by 10 when a touchdown would have put Nebraska past the favorite spread that fluctuated at various price in between -11 and -14 during the week. Rutgers closed the game with a punt and another interception but Nebraska didn’t need more points to wrap up its homecoming victory as the Knights narrowly held on for the underdog cover.

Miami, FL (-13½) 52, Toledo 30: This was a one-point game until Miami scored a touchdown with 20 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The Hurricanes took over in the fourth quarter with the help of a Toledo fumble making for four consecutive touchdowns before Toledo stopped the bleeding, cutting the margin to 38-22 with a touchdown with nine minutes to go. The Rockets picked up an interception a few plays later and were back in the game, finding the end zone after the turnover to trail just 38-30 after a successful two-point conversion. It wound up not mattering as Miami scored two more touchdowns in the final seven minutes to win by a misleading 22 point final margin.  After 40 points through three quarters the ‘over’ won with the all the late scoring on a total that closed at 60½.

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Navy (-7½) 42, Cincinnati 32: This game featured a severe line move Saturday afternoon with Navy falling from an -11½-point favorite to closing as a -7½-point favorite. Those numbers mattered as Navy’s 18-point lead into the fourth quarter was cut into with a Cincinnati touchdown with six minutes to go. Down 12 Cincinnati went for two and got it on a play that provided a critical pointspread swing. The Bearcats were a threat to score again but they fumbled on a sack at the Navy 11-yard line with just over two minutes remaining. Navy took the ball to the Cincinnati 8-yard line in the final minute before taking a knee as the margin remained at 10 for mixed results on both sides depending on the timing.

Ohio State (-41) 54, UNLV 21: The Buckeyes led 40 through three quarters but still throwing the ball with back-up quarterback Dwayne Haskins in the fourth quarter an interception was returned for a touchdown for UNLV to trim the margin to just 33 points. The Rebels would miss a field goal that could have secured the underdog cover but the Buckeyes fumbled at the UNLV 1-yard line with about four minutes to go as the Rebels hung on for the heavy underdog win.

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Tulane (-3) 21, Army 17: Tulane led 14-10 at halftime and that score held through three quarters with the Wave opening as a -4 favorite before the number slipped to -2½ and settled right a -3. With about five minutes remaining Army completed a 15-play touchdown drive as the slight road underdog went up by three. With 23 seconds remaining Jonathan Banks ran into the end zone and the Merek Glover extra point gave Tulane the win by four for a narrow favorite cover for most.

Texas A&M (-1½) 50, Arkansas 43: The Aggies trailed 28-24 heading into the fourth quarter in Arlington but the scoring was far from over. Texas A&M settled for a field goal with about 12 minutes remaining to trail by one as a slight favorite but a lousy punt from Arkansas handed the Aggies great field position and they took a five-point lead a few plays later, failing going for two. Arkansas answered to lead 36-33 with about five minutes remaining but the ensuing kickoff was returned for a touchdown as the Aggies were back in front and ahead of the spread at 40-36. Arkansas had no problem answering again and led by three once again but the Aggies delivered on the final drive with a big 4th down conversion just past midfield and in range to hit a field goal to force overtime. A pass interference call on 3rd-and-long handed Texas A&M a quick touchdown going first in overtime and Arkansas wound up intercepted in the end zone as the Aggies won again in this series and scored a fortunate overtime cover as well.

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UL-Monroe (+4) 56, UL-Lafayette 50: The underdog Warhawks led by 10 at the half and by 21 early in the fourth quarter. Louisiana-Lafayette made a furious comeback with 21 points in just over seven minutes to close regulation and force overtime, connecting on a 14-yard touchdown pass as time expired. Both teams got touchdowns in the first overtime, the Ragin’ Cajuns missed a field goal to lead off the second session while Louisiana-Monroe was able to deliver a touchdown for the win.

Western Kentucky (-12) 33, Ball State 21: This line on this game jumped around dramatically throughout the week with questionable Ball State personnel and the spread wound up closing right on the final margin. Most of the way that type of margin of victory for Western Kentucky seemed like an impossibility as they led by three through three quarters and wound up out-gained by Ball State for the game. The double-digit underdog Cardinals held a 21-20 lead into the final two minutes of the game but Western Kentucky delivered a touchdown run to go in front and then got a pick-6 a few plays later from Ball State backup quarterback Jack Milas, in an instant going from down one to up 12 and creating mixed results on the spread. That late scoring also pushed the total that settled around 50 after opening at 54½ just ‘over’.

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North Texas (-10) 46, UAB 43: The Mean Green took control with a pair of field goals early in the fourth quarter pushing the margin to 14 points. UAB made a furious late rally, tying the game with back-to-back touchdowns in the final six minutes. A big kickoff return in the final minute sparked North Texas, starting at the UAB 44-yard line with 27 seconds to go. A big run quickly put the Mean Green in field goal range and they hit the 22-yard kick for the win, though the Blazers earned the underdog cover on a line that dipped from -13 to just -10.

San Diego State (PK) 28, Air Force 24: The Aztecs opened as high as a -4½-point favorite but most of the week sat between -2½ and -3½ before a drop to a pick’em just before game time. Air Force led 9-0 early before a lengthy weather delay and San Diego State took over from there leading 14-9 at through three quarters and 21-17 early in the fourth quarter. Air Force completed a 75-yard touchdown drive with about six minutes to go but San Diego State took less than a minute to go back up by four, just past the common spread while the final drive for Air Force ended with an interception. The total was narrowly eclipsed with 29 fourth quarter points.

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Idaho (+6½) 29, South Alabama 23: The Jaguars led most of the game including sitting just past the closing spread with a 20-13 edge with about five minutes to go in the game with South Alabama favored by just 3½ much of the week before a late rise. Idaho delivered the tying touchdown with 13 seconds remaining to force overtime. In overtime both teams struggled to gain yards in session one, settling for matching field goals. South Alabama went backwards in round two going first and wound up missing a 43-yard field goal. Idaho delivered a touchdown for a minor upset in the Sun Belt.

USC (-17) 30, California 20: The Trojans and Bears were tied 13-13 through three quarters before USC took control with turnover help, adding 17 points in just over three minutes of game clock on drives of 30, 4, and 33 yards. USC opened as around a 15-point favorite before the line held firm at -17 to match the margin heading into the final 10 minutes. California eventually added a touchdown in the final two minutes to earn a deserved underdog cover as the Bears out-gained USC and somehow stayed in the game despite committing six turnovers.

Wyoming (-5) 28, Hawai’i 21: Hawai’i took a 14-7 lead late in the third quarter but that lead was quickly erased with a 97-yard kickoff return touchdown for Wyoming. The Cowboys struck again early in the fourth quarter leading 21-14 and past the slight home favorite spread that was as high as -7 early in the week. Hawai’i answered with a 50-yard touchdown pass to tie the game however. Wyoming missed a field goal in the final minutes and overtime was needed as those on the Cowboys still had life. Wyoming only needed one play to score an overtime touchdown going first and then delivered the win on defense with an interception as most scored a narrow cover on the Pokes.

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4th Quarter Covers – Week 3

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 3

09/18/2017

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 third big 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.

Boise State (-17) 28, New Mexico 14: Offense was limited Thursday night as Boise State hosted New Mexico with reserve quarterbacks in action. Boise State led 14-7 early in the second quarter but the game then featured nearly 24 scoreless minutes before the Broncos took advantage of a strong punt return for a short-field scoring drive. The Broncos eclipsed the home favorite spread for the first time with about three minutes to go in the game but behind third-string quarterback Coltin Gerhart New Mexico delivered a late score to steal the cover, finding the end zone with just over a minute to go to extend a failed cover streak at home for the Broncos to now 11 straight games.

Temple (-14½) 29, Massachusetts 21: Massachusetts climbed back into the game with a 20-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter to trail by just five points. Temple settled for a field goal heading into the fourth quarter with a 22-14 edge and then watched the Minutemen come away empty with a missed field goal early in the final frame. Massachusetts reached the Temple 28-yard-line on its next drive but still couldn’t add points and Temple appeared to secure a narrow favorite cover with a touchdown just after the four-minute mark, leading by 15. In just over two minutes Massachusetts rallied for a late scoring drive to trail by just eight with still over a minute remaining and then forced a Temple 3-and-out, reaching mid-field before the only turnover of the game on a lateral attempt.

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Notre Dame (-14) 49, Boston College 20: Nearly 40 minutes into this rivalry game Notre Dame led by just a single point but three consecutive scores put the Irish up by 22 early in the fourth quarter. Boston College would answer to climb back within 15 but with two short field scores following turnovers in the final seven minutes Notre Dame posting a convincing 49-20 final score that wasn’t entirely deserved in what was a fairly competitive game and a contest where Notre Dame completed just 11 of 27 passed for 96 yards.

Memphis (+3½) 48, UCLA 45: This early national contest lived up to the bulling with a tight high scoring game. Memphis weathered the early storm and pulled ahead by halftime, leading by 10 late in the third quarter with a defensive touchdown. UCLA scored the next two touchdowns to lead by four, just past the road favorite spread into the fourth quarter. Memphis didn’t trail for long with a four-play drive going 81 yards to take the lead back before the pair of high profile quarterbacks traded interceptions. UCLA was stopped on downs just past midfield in the final minute as the Tigers hung on for a huge home win.

Duke (-10) 34, Baylor 20: Duke led just 24-20 through three quarters after Baylor closed the third quarter with a 79-yard touchdown pass but missed the extra-point. That point proved costly for some with a line that reached as high as +14 at times as Duke returned a fourth quarter interception for a touchdown to lead by 11 and then added a field goal after an 18-yard drive with about five minutes to go for a 14-point final margin, with the Blue Devils ending the game taking a knee at the Baylor 24-yard line.

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Texas A&M (-24) 45, UL-Lafayette 21: The Ragin’ Cajuns scored three touchdowns in the second quarter to lead by seven at the half, setting potential for panic in College Station for a team that already had endured a disappointing start to the season. The Aggies would get in front by 10 by the end of the third quarter but covering the spread didn’t appear likely until an early fourth quarter interception return touchdown. The Aggies added another score by breaking a 67-yard run and wound up with a 24-point win for a narrow cover for most on the heavy favorite.

Florida (-6½) 26, Tennessee 20: The Gators were favored by 4½-to-5 points most of the week but wound up closing just short of a touchdown. A wild finish made those prices quite critical in this SEC opener. The Gators led just 6-3 through three quarters but with an interception return touchdown in the first minute of the fourth quarter the Gators led by 10. After trading scores Tennessee found the end zone on just a two-play drive with fewer than five minutes remaining to trail 17-20. Felipe Franks was intercepted in Florida territory two plays later as Tennessee managed to tie the game with a field goal with only 50 seconds remaining. Franks managed to redeem his big mistake on the final offensive play, scrambling and heaving to the end zone for 63-yard touchdown as time expired. There was no need to kick an extra-point that late Florida backers needed for the win.

TCU (-22) 56, SMU 36: TCU looked in jeopardy of an upset early as SMU jumped in front 19-7 in this matchup of nearby schools. Scoring as the half expired TCU led by six and that remained the margin after trading scores in the third quarter. The Frogs added a touchdown to lead by 13 early in the fourth quarter and then scored two more touchdowns in a minute’s span with the second score coming on an interception return to sit past the number with a 56-29 edge. TCU didn’t cover for long however as SMU hit a 61-yard pass touchdown a few plays later and the margin finished at 20 right in the middle of a -18½ opening price and the closing figure of -22.

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Marshall (-14) 21, Kent State 0: This game was still 0-0 until the final seconds of the first half as Marshall found the end zone with just six seconds remaining. After a scoreless third quarter Marshall went up by 14 to match the common spread with about seven minutes remaining in the game. Kent reached the Marshall 36-yard line but had to go for it on 4th-and-long and Marshall was able to put the game away while slipping past the favorite spread by breaking a long run with just over a minute to go.

Oklahoma (-34) 56, Tulane 14: The Wave scored two touchdowns in the first quarter to look like a great underdog cover bet with this hefty line but by halftime Oklahoma led 28-14 with the help of a 77-yard interception return touchdown. The Wave were still holding on through three quarters trailing by 21 but Oklahoma added three fourth quarter scores for a convincing final result that was enough to cover on the nearly five-touchdown spread.

Louisiana Tech (+4) 23, Western Kentucky 22: The Hilltoppers had a 22-13 edge through three quarters with this game on a much lower scoring trajectory than a pair of meetings between these Conference USA foes last season. Louisiana Tech completed a 91-yard scoring drive with about six minutes remaining in the game to get in position to cover, down by two. The Bulldogs forced a 3-and-out on defense but wound up throwing an interception and the defense had to step up again. Getting the ball back with fewer than two minutes remaining the Bulldogs marched down the field, aided by a face mask penalty and nailed a 21-yard field goal with two seconds remaining for the outright win.

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Alabama (-31) 41, Colorado State 23: Alabama only led 17-10 late in the second quarter but the Tide would take over, leading by 28 through three quarters and by 31 early in the fourth quarter to sit right near the opening and closing numbers. That timing didn’t end up mattering as Nick Stevens led two late Colorado State scoring drives to make the final statistics and score much more respectable.

Cincinnati (+3½) 21, Miami, OH 17: Looking to snap a long losing streak in this rivalry Miami was in command with a 14-3 edge through three quarters. Cincinnati climbed within eight before Miami also settled for a short field goal with fewer than five minutes remaining on the clock. That left Cincinnati with a 0.4% chance of winning the game according to ESPN’s probability model. Cincinnati rallied for a touchdown strike just past the three-minute mark, and converted the two-point try to trail by just three, in what looked like a critical play for the spread result. Cincinnati opted to kick deep and Miami bobbled the return and had to take the ball out of the end zone, burying themselves at their own 5-yard line. It appeared that Miami head coach Chuck Martin called timeout facing 3rd-and-2 but the Redhawks were assessed a delay-of-game penalty. On 3rd-and-7 with just over a minute to go Gus Ragland was intercepted with Cincinnati taking the pick to the end zone to take the lead 21-17. Miami drove 55 yard to Cincinnati 20-yard line looking to get back on top and a flag came out on a 3rd-and-five on a throw to the end zone. Clear pass interference was incredibly waved off and Miami failed on 4th down to end the game.

Troy (-9½) 27, New Mexico State 24: Troy climbed to a 20-3 advantage early in the third quarter but the Aggies showed some late fight, getting back-to-back scores to trail by four. In the final seconds of the third quarter Troy quarterback Brandon Silvers broke a long run to put Troy up by 11, just past a road favorite spread that climbed significantly throughout the week. New Mexico State scored with about 10 minutes to go in the game, successfully getting the two-point conversion to trail by only three. After trading punts Troy delivered an 11 play drive to burn off over six minutes of game clock before taking a knee.

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Texas Tech (-6½) 52, Arizona State 45: The Red Raiders led 35-17 at the half and that was with losing a fumble on the one-yard line to cost the team a bigger advantage. The defense started to run out of gas and this game turned into a shootout similar to last season. Through three quarters Texas Tech still led by seven, even with the common spread though -6½ was the opening and closing number on the game. Arizona State tied the game with about 10 minutes to go for a fourth straight touchdown drive for the Sun Devils. Both teams were forced to punt on their next possessions and Texas Tech got back in front with a 12-play 90-yard drive to lead by seven again with just under two minutes to go. Arizona State was stopped in its own territory but they had no timeouts as Texas Tech had no need to add points.

Utah (-28½) 54, San Jose State 16: The Utes kicked field goals early but eventually pulled away in the third quarter to take a 30-13 edge into halftime. Through three quarters Utah led by 24 and early in the fourth quarter the Spartans trimmed the deficit to 21 points. Utah added 17 points in the fourth quarter for a 54-16 final and a home favorite cover, scoring after a pair of San Jose State fumbles.

Washington (-35) 48, Fresno State 16: The highly regarded Huskies were much more dominant than the final numbers as they led 34-0 just 18 minutes into the game. The Huskies led 48-7 just over a minute into the second half before pulling off. Fresno State would score three field goals the rest of the way taking advantage of a pair of Washington fumbles as the Bulldogs moved to 3-0 ATS, slipping just within the closing spread.

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4th Quarter Covers

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 1

09/04/2017

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 opening 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.

Ohio State (-20½) 49, Indiana 21:  The Hoosiers looked like an upset threat in this hyped Big Ten opener, as the underdog cover didn’t even seem in question as the Hoosiers led 14-6 well into the second quarter. Ohio State scored to get within one point before the break before a lull in the scoring after halftime. Ohio State would score three touchdowns in the final seven minutes of the third quarter with a pair of big play scores to turn the game around leading 35-21 heading into the final frame when Indiana had led 21-20 with just a few minutes remaining in the third quarter. Taking advantage of a turnover Ohio State slipped past the spread early in the fourth quarter to lead 42-21. Indiana reached midfield on its next possession to threaten the number but an interception ended the threat and Ohio State went 87 yards to burn six minutes of clock, punching in one more touchdown for a 28-point final margin in game that felt much closer than that most of the way.

Arizona State (-26½) 37, New Mexico State 31: A one-point game at halftime, Arizona State scored four straight times to start the second half to lead 37-13 early in the fourth quarter on a spread that dipped as low -22½ before climbing back up right before game time. Those following the line move were burned as New Mexico State played to the end, scoring 18 points in the final nine minutes including a 29-yard touchdown pass as time expired. With a total that fell as low as 69 at closing, the Aggies didn’t bother attempting an extra-point after that score that didn’t impact the outcome but certainly could have impacted total wagers.

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Wisconsin (-27) 59, Utah State 10: The Badgers had a slow start, trailing 10-0 for the first 28 minutes of the game before a turnover helped the Badgers to tie the game by halftime. Wisconsin took charge in the second half and slipped past the spread just before the start of the 4th quarter and eventually tacked on three more scores in the final 10 minutes to create a somewhat misleading lopsided final.

Louisville (-25½) 35, Purdue 28 (66): Purdue made it clear early this was going to be a competitive game and that the underdog would be the right side. The total wound up a very close call despite statistics that would indicate a clear ‘over’ game as these teams combined for 52 first downs and 103 pass attempts. The first half featured Louisville fumbling in the red zone on three separate possessions however while Purdue also missed a field goal to leave a 14-10 score at halftime. An interception return touchdown helped the scoring pace in the third quarter and with still nine minutes to go in a very tight game the combined score reached 60 as the ‘over’ pace had caught up. Louisville settled for a short field goal to lead by seven to leave overtime a possibility but a productive Purdue drive into Louisville territory ended with an interception. The Boilermakers got another shot forcing a punt but pinned deep into their own territory they failed on downs and the ‘under’ held on.

Nebraska (-14½) 43, Arkansas State 36: On back-to-back plays there was a punt return and a kickoff return touchdown in this game for a wild first quarter. Nebraska led by just one at halftime but pulled away with a touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter to lead 41-26, just past the number. Arkansas State settled for a field goal and Nebraska later earned a safety for a 14-point edge, just short of the spread for most on the Huskers. Nebraska was unable to put the game away and Arkansas State connected for a touchdown in the final minute to trail by only seven, securing the underdog cover. Arkansas State was actually a serious threat to score again as they recovered an onside kick and had two throws from the Nebraska 11-yard-line in the final seconds.

Mississippi (-21½) 47, South Alabama 27: Ole Miss struggled in the first half of the opener with just a 13-10 edge at the break but Shea Patterson connected on a few big throws in the third quarter while the Rebels also had a kickoff return touchdown to take a 40-13 edge into the final frame. Mississippi scored again in the fourth as the Rebels were well past the favorite spread that dropped from -27 down to -21½ by game time with a 34-point advantage. South Alabama cut the deficit to 27 with a 75-yard touchdown drive but another big kickoff return but the Rebels immediately back in scoring range. With Patterson still in the game the Rebels were stuffed however and wound up missing a 45-yard field goal. That gave the Jaguars a golden opportunity for a backdoor cover and they delivered with another touchdown drive mostly on the ground to make the final score and statistics a bit more respectable.

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Notre Dame (-20) 49, Temple 16: The Irish took control of this game quickly and at halftime led 28-10, even with a common spread of -18 before the line took off Saturday afternoon before game time. Notre Dame briefly went up by 25 but Temple answered early in the fourth quarter though with a missed extra-point to push the margin to 19 points. It wound up not mattering as Notre Dame added two more rushing touchdowns in the final six minutes for an even more convincing final number.

Auburn (-34½) 41, Georgia Southern 7: Auburn had three turnovers to struggle to pull away from Georgia Southern with a spread that hovered around the five touchdown mark all week. The Tigers led just 24-7 at halftime and were short of the number with a 34-7 edge heading into the fourth quarter. The Tigers posted a 95-yard touchdown drive in the final frame but it wasn’t quite enough for most with a 34-point final margin. It is hard to find a more lopsided box score with Georgia Southern netting 78 total yards and their only points coming on a fumble return despite the ATS win for the underdog. Auburn reached the 25-yard-line on its final possession but came up empty going for it on 4th down rather than attempting a field goal.

Kentucky (-9½) 24, Southern Miss 17: The Wildcats were past a hefty road favorite price with a 14-3 edge at halftime but Southern Miss connected for a big pass play to get within four early in the third quarter. Kentucky used a short field to extend its lead to seven points with a late third quarter field goal and then got the play of the game a few plays later with a fumble return touchdown. That made it a 14-point game heading into the fourth quarter but Southern Miss responded with an 11 play touchdown drive to climb back to within a one score margin. Southern Miss fumbled on its next possession and then opted to punt on its next drive from the Kentucky 45-yard line with just over five minutes to go. Kentucky managed to get a few first downs and burn some clock, shifting the field position and pinning the Golden Eagles deep in their own territory, where they wound up stranded to end the game. Despite the fourth quarter score for the underdog cover Southern Miss had the edge in the statistics.

Alabama (-7½) 24, Florida State 7: Technically a late third quarter cover but the biggest game of the week certainly had a misleading final score as Florida State was the more productive offensive team most of the way before a disastrous stretch in the third quarter. Both teams had missed opportunities to score more early but Alabama led just 10-7 at the half and still just 13-7 after Florida State held the Tide to a field goal after a blocked punt put Alabama at the six-yard line. Florida State fumbled on the ensuing kickoff to hand Alabama another red zone opportunity and they cashed in this time with a 1st down touchdown to lead 21-7. Florida State was still a touchdown away from covering but back-to-back interceptions followed and Alabama added another field goal in the fourth quarter to seal the win with the three second half scores for Alabama coming on drives of -1, 11, and 16 yards.

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Boise State (-11) 24, Troy 13: With the help of a punt return touchdown Boise State led 14-3 against Troy but the Trojans got back into the game with an interception return touchdown. The Broncos led by just seven going into the fourth quarter and Troy trimmed that edge to just four points with a field goal. Up by 4, Boise State went for it on 4th-and-1 from the Troy 20 yard line and fell short but on the very next play Troy gave the ball back with an interception. Boise State used a short field to connect for a touchdown with just over two minutes to go in the game for a 24-13 edge, slipping by the spread for some with a number that opened at -12½ before falling all the way to -10 and climbing to -11 by kickoff.

West Virginia (-5½) 31, West Virginia 24: The renewal of this rivalry lived up to the billing Sunday night with a tight game throughout and neither team ever scoring consecutively. West Virginia trailed 10-7 at the half which would have been enough to cover on a spread that fluctuated from +4 to +5. Virginia Tech took a 24-17 lead into the fourth quarter on a one-play drive following a great kickoff return but West Virginia hit a big play early in the fourth quarter to knot the score at 24-24. After trading punts Josh Jackson delivered an 82-yard drive for the go-ahead touchdown with just over six minutes to go. The Hokies later had a chance to put the game away but a 32-yard field goal was missed and in the final seconds West Virginia quarterback Will Grier had a pair of shots to the end zone but both fell incomplete as the Hokies won and covered despite trailing the Mountaineers in most of the statistics.

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NFL Close Calls – Week 1

NFL Close Calls – Week 1

09/13/2016

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 first weekend of the NFL regular season, a wild first week with several tight games down the wire.

Denver Broncos (+3) 21, Carolina Panthers 20 (40½): Carolina appeared to be in complete control in the Super Bowl rematch to open the season, leading 17-7 at the half. Both teams failed in 3rd quarter opportunities but the Broncos struck early in the fourth quarter to get within three and then after a turnover the Broncos took the lead with fewer than 10 minutes to go in the game. Denver backers were in a good position at +3 and leading by four but Carolina had a new set of downs at the Denver 23-yard line with just over five minutes to go in the game. The Panthers opted to kick the field goal to climb within one-point and the defense held for a 3-and-out to get the ball back with still three minutes to go but just one timeout. Cam Newton took some big hits that mostly went ignored by the officials and eventually had the Panthers in field goal range but a 50-yard attempt with nine seconds on the clock missed left, following up a made attempt that was negated just in time by a Denver timeout. While a successful kick would not have helped those on the Panthers, most on the ‘over’ fell just short with the missed final kick as the common total was 41½ before a late slide before kickoff.

Minnesota Vikings (-2½) 25, Tennessee Titans 16 (40): The Titans took a 10-0 lead over Minnesota at the half but by the end of the third quarter the Vikings were in front 12-10 with a pair of field goals and a 77-yard interception return touchdown, though the extra-point was missed. The Minnesota defense continued to dominate in the fourth quarter allowing the Vikings two more field goals and scoring another defensive touchdown with a 24-yard fumble return as Minnesota took command 25-10. A late Tennessee touchdown helped some on the ‘over’ though many wound up with a push at 41 as the Titans went for two on the score with 26 seconds to go and failed.

Cincinnati Bengals (-1) 23, New York Jets 22 (42½): The Jets had the early lead in this AFC clash with a 16-10 edge before the Bengals settled for a short field goal as the first half expired. Cincinnati took the lead in the third quarter completing a 92-yard drive with a touchdown to go up 20-16, just past a road favorite spread that sat at -2½ most of the week. The Jets settled for a 20-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to sit down one but after a Cincinnati drive ended with a missed field goal the Jets converted for another three points and a 22-20 advantage. Getting the ball back with just over three minutes to go the Bengals moved down the field with relative ease with the help of a facemask penalty and Mike Nugent got redemption with a successful 47-yard field goal in the final minute. A final drive for the Jets ended the game with an interception though many on the underdog walked away with winning tickets or at worst a push. The late field goal for the Bengals also put the game just ‘over’ the total as well.

Oakland Raiders (+3) 35, New Orleans Saints 34 (50½): Despite the very high scoring final the ‘over’ didn’t look that promising with a 24-13 lead for the Saints heading into the fourth quarter. It wound up being a wild final frame however as the Raiders would tie the game on a 75-yard run with about eight minutes to go, getting a successful two-point conversion to knot the score at 27-27. New Orleans only needed three plays to get back on top but six minutes remained on the clock. The Saints defense had few stops in the second half but on 4th-and-5 it looked like New Orleans sealed the win just after the two-minute warning as a rushed throw from Derek Carr flew out of bounds. The Saints were flagged for pass interference in a highly questionable call however to hand the Raiders a new set of downs. Two plays later the Raiders found the end zone and boldly went for two, successfully hitting a pass to take a 35-34 lead. This game was a ‘pick’ part of the week and the Saints were widely available at just -1 until Sunday as Drew Brees led the offense down the field in the final seconds looking for a late field goal. New Orleans didn’t get quite far enough however as a 61-yard attempt from Wil Lutz just barely fell left as the Raiders left the Superdome with an improbable win.

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Kansas City Chiefs (-6½) 33, San Diego Chargers 27 (46): Those that grabbed the Chargers at +7 early in the week had to be smiling with the Chargers up 21-3 at the half in Kansas City. After nearly nine minutes of scoreless ball in the third quarter a field goal extended that lead to 24-3. The Chiefs finally got a touchdown late in the third quarter but the Chargers added another three points early in the fourth quarter to still lead by 17. The Chargers stopped the next drive for the Chiefs with an interception but then missed on a 54-yard field goal to give Kansas City good field position. Just two minutes later the Chiefs were within 10 with a touchdown strike while San Diego then punted the ball right back. The Chargers held Kansas City to a field goal with a big stop after a 12-play drive but the offense had a 3-and-out and a terrible punt gave the Chiefs the ball back in San Diego territory down seven. Four plays later the game was tied and the Chargers didn’t put up much of a threat in to score in the final minute, eventually punting to run out the clock and head to overtime. The Chiefs won the toss and went 70-yards on 10 plays to win though most on the Chargers still held on with the six-point final margin.

Baltimore Ravens (-3) 13, Buffalo Bills 7 (44½): Down 10-7 at the half the Bills missed a field goal on the opening drive of the second half. After several punts the Bills got some momentum back getting a 4th-and-1 stop near midfield but more punting followed as both defenses held up well. With just fewer than six minutes to go in the game the Ravens got past the home favorite spread with a 13-play drive resulting in a field goal, in what was the second kick on that drive for Justin Tucker as the Ravens took three points off the board with a Buffalo penalty on the first kick. Buffalo went backwards on its final possession eventually punting with four minutes to go and the Ravens did enough to run out the clock and hold on for the low-scoring win and cover.

Houston Texans (-6) 23, Chicago Bears 14: The Bears struck first in Houston leading 7-0 at the end of the first quarter and still holding a 14-13 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Brock Osweiler hit Will Fuller for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to give Houston its first lead of the game at 20-14, right even with the closing spread though the number fluctuated between -4½ and -6½ throughout the week. It wound up not coming into play as Houston added a field goal with six minutes to go and the defense held the Bears off the scoreboard in the entire second half with a 24-yard drive in the final minutes to just the Chicago 45-yard line being the best threat.

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Green Bay Packers (-3½) 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 23 (47): The closing line was the low point for this spread that was at 4½ to 5½ most of the week and Green Bay was past that number early in the fourth quarter with a 27-20 edge after a Mason Crosby field goal. Settling for that short 20-yard kick kept ‘under’ players alive with a total that fell from 48 to 47 before kickoff. Jacksonville wound send the game ‘over’ with a 50-yard kick to trail by four which was enough to take the underdog cover as well for most. The Packers didn’t threaten to add points on their final possession but Jacksonville did threaten to pull off the upset, getting 1st-and-10 from the Green Bay 23-yard line in the final minute but eventually failing on 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1 pass plays from the 14-yard line.

New York Giants (+1) 20, Dallas Cowboys 19 (48): The Giants were +1 most of the week and at the closing line but for a few hours on Sunday the number flipped to -1 and very briefly -1½ as results wound up a bit varied on this NFC East clash. Dallas hit three first half field goals with productive drives but no touchdowns under rookie Dak Prescott as the Giants scored a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter to lead 13-9 as an extra-point try was blocked. Dallas took a 16-13 lead in the third quarter as Ezekiel Elliott scored his first touchdown and that lead was extended early in the fourth quarter with a field goal. With about six minutes to go the Giants had a 54-yard touchdown drive to take a one-point lead. After forcing a punt the Giants looked like a threat to add points to make it a clear cover but the drive stalled and on 4th-and-1 the Giants opted to punt in a conservative move that looked like it might come back to haunt the team. On the punt a bad snap forced punter Brad Wing to just get the ball out for a touchback and a net of just 17 yards. Dallas picked up a pair of first downs to approach midfield and with 12 seconds left Prescott hit Terrance Williams for a solid gain but he opted to cut up field rather than get out of bounds. Dallas would have had a reasonable long field goal attempt but it was 4th down so spiking the clock wasn’t possible and there was not enough time to get another play off anyway.

New England Patriots (+9) 23, Arizona Cardinals 21 (44½): The Patriots made it clear that a heavy underdog cover was likely with a 10-0 lead early and New England went up 20-14 early in the fourth quarter with a field goal. The Cardinals would take a 21-20 lead however and those on the ‘under’ now had very little margin for error with the number sliding from an opener of 48½ down to 44½ by kickoff. New England took the lead with a field goal with under four minutes to go to put the total at 44. Arizona drove into field goal range with a great chance to steal the win facing 1st-and-10 from the 34-yard line at the two-minute warning but a holding penalty would push the Cardinals back, eventually facing 3rd-and-23. The Cardinals got enough yardage for a favorable field goal attempt but the 47-yard kick was missed as the Patriots cashed some attractive moneyline tickets and the ‘under’ held on.

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