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4Q Covers Week 3

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 3


Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in the third big weekend of the college football season. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1-Page Stats NCAA Week 1

Check out all of last week’s college football box scores in one-page!

This page is part one of the perks of our weekly Green Sheet newsletter – getting you the data from last week by Monday afternoon in one reference page to jump start your handicapping for the following week.

Check out this week’s 1-Page Stats page featuring all 83 games from last weekend plus the late August openers!

Sign up for the Green Sheet subscription to get this content every single week through the Super Bowl!

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Free Point Train Pick

Saturday #211 New Mexico State +31.5 @ Washington State 10:00 PM Eastern

If you’ve dealt with us in the past you know we prefer ‘ugly’ teams over the media darlings. With that said, we like New Mexico State plus the points over Washington State. Last season the Cougars were 11-2 ATS and have a two-year record of 18-8 ATS at the betting window. That success doesn’t go un-noticed by the oddsmakers so there is an immediate correction in the opening numbers this season. Conversely, the Aggies were a dismal 2-9-1 ATS last season and cost anyone that bet them on a regular basis a lot of money last season. WSU had the best spread record in college football last year, but fifteen teams had a better average margin of victory than the Cougs. Washington State had a decent average margin of victory of +14.2PPG last year, but it came against the 50th ranked schedule.

Washington State had just two wins last year that were by more than the spread on their opener this season. New Mexico State struggled last season with a 2-9-1 spread record, but their average loss margin was 16.1PPG and they only lost by 34 or more points three times. New Mexico State returns 30 letter winners with 8 starters on offense back and 6 defensive starters. Two years ago, this team was 7-6 SU with a Bowl Win to end their season. The Aggies had a negative point differential of just -.4PPG and an offense that was 45th in the nation in yards per play at +5.7, while averaging 29.3PPG. With experience back at quarterback, a solid O-line along with plenty of depth defensively this Doug Martin coached team will be much better than they were a season ago. Washington State does return a bevy of talent from last year’s team with 39 lettermen, 7 offensive starters and 6 defensive starters but they are clearly over-priced here. Our computer analytics on this game have the Cougars favored by 26.9-points. We take the pooch and the points! Bet on New Mexico State!

2018 Best ATS teams in college football: Washington State 11-2, Utah State 10-3, Florida International 10-3, Syracuse 9-3-1, Troy 9-3-1, Fresno State 10-4, UAB 10-4

2018 Worst ATS teams in college football: Michigan St 4-9, Wisconsin 4-9, North Texas 4-9, W Michigan 4-9, S Florida 4-9, Mississippi 3-9, San Diego St 3-10, Georgia State 2-9-1, N Mexico St 2-9-1, UConn 2-9-1, Louisville 1-11

Point Train is off to a 3-1 start to the football season and has two big plays ready to go for Saturday’s schedule!

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Conference Championship Notes

Conference Championship Notes

Playing for a championship is the goal of every program and eight conference champions will be decided on Saturday. College Playoff berths are not likely on the line in the Conference USA, American, Sun Belt, and Mountain West games but all four contests will be rematches to fill out the championship Saturday schedule. One of these teams should also get called for the top Group of 5 spot in the New Year’s Six.


Match-up: UAB Blazers at Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders

Venue: At Johnny Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Time/TV: Saturday, December 1, 1:30 PM ET, CBSSN

Line: Middle Tennessee State -1, Over/Under 44½

Last Meeting: November 24, 2018 at Middle Tennessee State (+3) 27, UAB 3

UAB wasn’t playing football two years ago and after a successful bowl season in last year’s re-boot the Blazers look to take another step this season with a division title and a shot a the conference title. Middle Tennessee State is also in the Conference USA Championship for the first time looking to keep a run of four consecutive championships for the East division champion going.

Bill Clark stayed with UAB through the two-year hiatus after coaching the Blazers for his first season in 2014 following one year at Jacksonville State. UAB was perfect at home this season in a 9-3 campaign though the team enters this game off back-to-back losses, falling 41-20 to Texas A&M and then in last week’s game in Murfreesboro. Senior quarterback A.J. Erdely miss three November games before returning last week with freshman Tyler Johnston filling in with similar numbers as both could see the field this week.

Rick Stockstill won a Sun Belt title in his first season with the program in 2006 and this will be his first trip back to a championship game, leading mostly successful results over now 13 seasons with an 87-76 record and no losing seasons in Conference USA play. Last year’s team had a lot of potential but his son Brent was injured most of the year. Back as a senior quarterback the younger Stockstill has posted terrific numbers this season and he missed most of the one conference game the Blue Raiders lost at Florida International.

These schools are only about 200 miles apart as a good crowd should be expected even with some potential rain in the forecast for Saturday.

Regular Season Meeting: These teams met just last week on the same field. The incentives were vastly different however as Middle Tennessee State needed to win to get to this game and shortly after kickoff knew that Florida International had lost to make it a win-and-win-the-division-title game. UAB had already clinched its division and had little at stake last week and it showed, ultimately posting only 89 net yards of offense and not scoring again after taking a 3-0 lead on the opening drive in an eventual 27-3 result.

Series History: UAB won last season’s meeting 25-23 while Middle Tennessee State has won four of seven meetings since 1995 with a 3-2 ATS run in lined games since 2000.

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Match-up: Memphis Tigers at Central Florida Knights

Venue: At Spectrum Stadium in Orlando, Florida

Time/TV: Saturday, December 1, 3:30 PM ET, ABC

Line: Central Florida -3, Over/Under 65

Last Meeting: October 13, 2018, Central Florida (-4½) 31, at Memphis 30

This will be the fourth meeting in two seasons for these programs with UCF looking to extend the nation’s longest winning streak to 25 games with a second straight conference title. The storyline however will be the absence of quarterback McKenzie Milton who was injured for UCF in last week’s win over South Florida.

In last year’s championship game these teams put on a show with Milton helping to deliver a 62-55 win in double-overtime with both teams eclipsing 700 yards of offense in a game with several big swings. UCF has won the regular season meetings the past two years as well, getting a lopsided home win last year and this year winning in Memphis by one-point with a second half comeback.

The Tigers are one of the nation’s top rushing teams with Darrell Henderson posting 1,699 yards so far and Memphis posting 6.4 yards per carry for nearly 276 yards per game. Replacing a highly productive quarterback, junior Brady White has been effective in his first season after transferring from Arizona State. Freshman Darriel Mack will start at quarterback for UCF with Milton out. Mack did play in entire game in the win over East Carolina but that has been his only meaningful action this season. He is much bigger than Milton and a serious rushing threat but likely not nearly the same caliber performer in the passing game at this point in his career.

Regular Season Meeting: In a highly anticipated rematch of the 2017 championship game Memphis took command early with a 30-14 edge until just before halftime. UCF trimmed the deficit to just six points in the third quarter and then took a one-point lead in the fourth. Memphis fumbled twice in the second half to wind up shut out in the second half at home and losing despite a 281-165 rushing edge.

Series History: Central Florida has won S/U 12 meetings in a row in this series going back to 2005 with the last win for Memphis coming in 1990 when UCF was not playing at the top college football level. Memphis has gone 4-2-1 ATS in the seven meetings going back to 2010.

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Match-up: UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns at Appalachian State Mountaineers

Venue: At Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, North Carolina

Time/TV: Saturday, December 1, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN

Line: Appalachian State -18, Over/Under 59

Last Meeting: October 2, 2018 at Appalachian State (-25½) 27, UL-Lafayette 17

The Sun Belt split into two five-team divisions this season and will join the Championship Weekend with the inaugural title game this weekend after often featuring a full regular season schedule in this final weekend in previous years. There was great drama in determining the division champions this season with last week’s results meaningful and the heavy Sun Belt favorite to open the season, Arkansas State, did not make it.

Scott Satterfield led a 4-8 FCS squad in his first season in Boon in 2013 but has had a winning season every year since the program jumped to the FBS level in 2014. The Mountaineers are 3-0 in bowl games the past three years and 39-11 the past four years combined while going 28-4 in Sun Belt play in that span. Expect Satterfield to field interviews from prominent openings if he so chooses as he has done a remarkable job. This year may have been his best work as the roster appeared to be in a major transition with the loss of several key players from last season.

The one game in Sun Belt play that Appalachian State lost came without quarterback Zac Thomas at Georgia Southern and the numbers were dominant for the Mountaineers with a 255-108 scoring record in going 7-1 in league play. Appalachian State went 5-0 at home on the season and nearly upset Penn State in the opening week on the road.

Louisiana started the season 1-3 but losses at Mississippi State and at Alabama certainly are forgivable. The Ragin’ Cajuns beat Arkansas State at home 47-43 and last week earned this spot by besting rival UL-Monroe on the road 31-28. The Ragin’ Cajuns played both Appalachian State and Troy on the road for a difficult crossover draw and lost both games by 10 points in lower scoring games. In going 5-3 in Sun Belt play Louisiana outscored foes by just 24 points while being outscored overall on the season despite being 7-5.

Regular Season Meeting: As a massive home favorite Appalachian State led just 17-10 at the half before pulling away. The final score was 27-17 but Louisiana scored with 63 seconds to go to make the final margin tighter, though the yardage edge for the Mountaineers was modest at 372-328. The ground game was the key with a 266-140 rushing advantage for the Mountaineers at home.

Series History: These teams have met each of the last five years with five straight wins for Appalachian State, going 3-2 ATS including 2-1 in the home meetings.

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Match-up: Fresno State Bulldogs at Boise State Broncos

Venue: At Albertson’s Stadium in Boise, Idaho

Time/TV: Saturday, December 1, 7:45 PM ET, ESPN

Line: Boise State -2½, Over/Under 50½

Last Meeting: November 9, 2018, at Boise State (+2½) 24, Fresno State 17

These teams met in the Mountain West title game last season with a 17-14 win for Boise State with a 90-yard touchdown drive for the lead late in the fourth quarter. That was after Fresno State defeated Boise State at home the previous week to close the regular season. These teams also met in the 2014 MWC Championship, also a win but missed cover for Boise State.

The stakes are potentially higher this season as if UCF loses to Memphis now playing without its star quarterback, the victor of this game could be the highest rated Group of Five squad in line for a New Year’s Six bowl bid. Boise State is currently 22nd while Fresno State is 25th in those rankings. UCF is 8th and could potentially hold the highest ranked spot with a loss though that would be an unusual precedent to set as they wouldn’t be a conference champion and would likely look like a much less promising team without Milton.

Marcus McMaryion and Brett Rypien are both in the nation’s top 12 in QB Rating and both seniors are coming to the close of excellent seasons and careers. They have combined to throw only 10 interceptions in nearly 800 attempts. Defense has been the key for Fresno State however, second nationally allowing just 13.5 points per game with a significant edge in pass defense relative to Boise State. The Broncos are 119-7 S/U at home since 1999 for truly the toughest home field edge in the nation however.

Regular Season Meeting: As a rare home underdog Boise State fell behind 17-3 early in the third quarter. The Broncos rallied to win in the fourth taking a 24-17 edge while Fresno State had a missed field goal while getting stopped on downs in Boise territory on its final two possessions. Boise State had a 448-390 edge in yards and committed the only turnover in the game.

Series History: Boise State is 15-4 S/U in this series since 1996 with a 13-5 ATS record however Fresno State has covered in four of the past five meetings. This will be the MWC Championship matchup for the third time in the last five years with a 28-14 win for Boise in 2014 and a 17-14 win over Boise last season with the Broncos hosting all of those games. Fresno State did win S/U hosting Boise State in the regular season in 2013 and 2017 but has not won in Boise since 1984.

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MAC Championship Preview


Championship weekend kicks off in Detroit with the MAC Championship Game Friday night in Detroit. Northern Illinois has now represented the West in seven of the last nine title games while this is just the second appearance for Buffalo. Here is a look at Friday’s closely-lined championship game in the MAC.


Match-up: Northern Illinois Huskies at Buffalo Bulls  

Venue: At Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan

Time/TV: Friday, November 30, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN2

Line: Buffalo -3, Over/Under 49

Last Meeting: 2017, at Northern Illinois (-8) 14, Buffalo 13


Buffalo has been the prominent MAC team all season since starting the year 4-0 with notable wins at Temple and at Rutgers. The Bulls started 6-0 in conference play to take a commanding lead in the East but slipped up at Ohio in mid-November before clinching the division title last weekend. At 10-2, it has been the best season record-wise in Buffalo history already and the Bulls will have two more opportunities to add to the win count.


This if the fourth season for Lance Leipold who won six Division III championships in eight years at Wisconsin-Whitewater and figures to be a candidate to be interviewed for major conference positions in the near future. Buffalo went 5-7 and 2-10 in his first two seasons before reaching 6-6 last year without getting a bowl invite.


Rod Carey took over Northern Illinois for the Orange Bowl at the end of the 2012 season after Dave Doeren was hired at NC State. In six-plus seasons he is 51-29 with the Huskies finishing in the top three in the West every season while this will be his fourth MAC title game, going 1-2 in three straight appearances from 2013 to 2015. A bowl win has eluded Carey, winless in five tries but the program has been a consistent force in the conference.  


The Dollar General Bowl in Mobile vs. a Sun Belt team has been the typical landing spot for the MAC Champion though there are not true ranked bowl tie-ins for the MAC. The Camellia, Famous Idaho Potato, Frisco, and Bahamas Bowls are also tied to the MAC with the conference featuring seven bowl-eligible teams including six that are at least 7-5 this year.

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West champion Northern Illinois is just 7-5 but the Huskies lost non-conference games to Iowa, Utah, and Florida State, while beating BYU for one of the nation’s most difficult non-conference schedules. The Huskies held this spot despite losing its final two MAC games to slide to 6-2 in league play, falling in single-score games hosting Miami and at Western Michigan in the final two weeks.


Northern Illinois has the top scoring defense in the MAC, allowing just 19.8 points per game while Buffalo was one of the conference’s top offensive teams, posting 35.5 points per game in conference play. These teams didn’t play in the regular season this year but Buffalo did face Eastern Michigan and Toledo in the crossover games for a fairly difficult schedule. Northern Illinois drew Ohio and Miami as both teams faced the second and third place teams from the opposing divisions.


Experienced mobile quarterbacks are on both sides with sophomore Marcus Childers playing significantly last season as a freshman for Northern Illinois. He posted worse numbers across the board this season however despite a similar record for the Huskies. Junior Tyree Jackson threw nearly twice as many touchdown passes this season compared with last season for Buffalo but he also saw major declines in most of his passing numbers compared with last season. At 6’7” Jackson is a difficult matchup for any defense but the Huskies have had great defensive numbers this season.


Only Clemson is allowing fewer yards per carry than Northern Illinois at just 2.6 yards per rush attempt on the season. The Huskies were only out-gained on the ground three times this season and never in MAC play with only Iowa, Florida State, and BYU holding a ground edge in this matchup while in six of eight MAC games Northern Illinois had a rushing edge of at least 96 yards.


Dominating the ground game has been the key to beating Buffalo this season as in the team’s two losses they had a major rushing deficit. In September Army out-gained Buffalo by 178 rushing yards and won 42-13 in Buffalo while in mid-November Ohio out-rushed Buffalo by 280 yards in a 52-17 result that prevented the Bulls from clinching the division at the time.

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Despite the 6-2 record Northern Illinois played almost exclusively close games in MAC play with seven of eight games decided by 10 or fewer points in either direction. The only lopsided result was a home win over 2017 MAC Champion Toledo but that game featured nearly identical production but a few big turnovers and special teams plays tilting the scales to the Huskies. Northern Illinois actually has a negative scoring differential on the season despite being 7-5, though they outscored MAC foes by an average of 5.3 points per game.


Buffalo outscored foes by an average of 11.0 points per game overall this season and 10.9 points per game in MAC play. Buffalo scored at least 31 points in nine of ten wins this season while five of seven wins for Northern Illinois came with 26 or fewer points scored by the Huskies as these teams have generally been in contrasting types of contests and whoever dictates the pace could have the advantage.


2017 Meeting: In mid-October Northern Illinois visited Buffalo and took 14-3 lead with a pair of early second quarter touchdown drives led by Marcus Childers who ran for the first score and threw for the second. Buffalo would answer with 10 points before halftime including getting a field goal following a fumble for a one-point game at the break, 14-13. Northern Illinois had 1st-and-goal early in third quarter before a Childers fumble and on the next possession the Huskies missed on a 43-yard field goal. Buffalo got zero points after an 81-yard drive early in the fourth quarter with a missed field goal that could have taken the lead and a few minutes later an interception in Huskies territory also cost the Bulls a chance to get in front. Northern Illinois missed another field goal in the final minutes as the 14-13 edge held after a scoreless second half filled with missed opportunities.


Series History: Northern Illinois is 10-0 S/U in this series since Buffalo joined the FBS ranks with the Huskies 7-3 ATS. Northern Illinois has been favored by at least seven points in every previous meeting as this will be the first time Buffalo has been favored in this series and in eight of the previous 10 meetings Northern Illinois has been favored by 14 or more points.


MAC Championship History: The MAC Championship has been won by the West representative in eight of the last 12 seasons and Northern Illinois has been six of the previous eight MAC championships, winning the title in 2011, 2012, and 2014, with the last title under current head coach Rod Carey.  

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4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 13

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 13


Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in the final 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.

Miami, OH (-14½) 42, Ball State 21: This Tuesday night game was tied at halftime as heavy favorite Miami scored two touchdowns in the final four minutes of the first half to erase a 21-7 deficit. Miami took over in the third quarter to lead by 14 on a spread that was as high as -17½ early in the week. In the fourth the Redhawks got past the number with a 95-yard touchdown drive to lead by 21 and then held off two late Ball State drives into Miami territory.

Iowa (-8½) 31, Nebraska 28: The spread on this game dived from -10 down to as low as -7½ and the halftime score was right in that range with a 21-13 Iowa edge. Iowa went up by 15 early in the third quarter but then was stopped going for it on 4th down at the Nebraska 3-yard-line to keep the Cornhuskers in the game. Nebraska completed a 98-yard touchdown drive to get back within eight and looked poised to get closer early in the fourth before an interception in Iowa territory. Iowa wasn’t able to extend the lead as a 37-yard field goal was missed and the Huskers went 80 yards to tie the game, successfully converting the two-point conversion. Iowa was able to methodically burn the remaining clock while giving kicker Miguel Recinos a shot at redemption and he hit from 41 yards for the Iowa win as time expired, though the underdog earned the cover.

Texas (-15) 24, Kansas 17: With a spot in the Big XII title game on the line Sam Ehlinger played for the Longhorns but it was a flat start with just a 7-0 edge at halftime. Texas was able to score twice late in the third quarter to get to 21-0 but Kansas wound up with 17 points in the fourth quarter including 10 points in the final four minutes to steal the underdog cover, though with just a 297-296 yardage edge for Texas as the Jayhawks deserved the close scoring result.

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Central Florida (-14½) 38, South Florida 10: UCF took an early 17-0 lead but South Florida trimmed the margin to 17-10 late in the third quarter in a game where star Knights quarterback McKenzie Milton left with a serious leg injury. UCF would run the ball with great success and turned a 14-point edge at the start of the fourth quarter into a 38-10 final result.

Memphis (-10) 52, Houston 31: There were wild swings in this game as a 7-0 Houston edge early turned to a 17-7 deficit before Houston scored twice in two minutes late in the second quarter to lead 21-17 at the half. A back-and-forth game continued in the third quarter with the score knotted at 31-31 through three quarters. Houston posted three scoring drives in the fourth quarter leaning on Darrell Henderson while Houston’s final two drives ended stopped on downs and with an interception. The Tigers will head back to the AAC Championship game for a rematch with UCF while finishing well past the favorite spread that jumped from -7 to -10.

Virginia Tech (+5½) 34, Virginia 31: Looking to snap a long drought in this series the Cavaliers botched some early opportunities with a red zone fumble and then on an interception return at the end of the half, Tim Harris was caught by quarterback Ryan Willis short of the end zone as the Hokies kept a 14-0 edge at the break. Virginia would score touchdowns on four straight possessions to start the second half to lead 28-24 with seven minutes to go facing a spread that fluctuated in between -3½ and -5½. The Cavaliers then forced a fumble and an interception on the next two possessions for the Hokies, eventually adding a field goal to lead by seven with just over two minutes to go. Virginia Tech hit a 45-yard pass to get into the red zone and then on a rush approaching the end zone a forced fumble that would have effectively ended the game for the Cavaliers was recovered for a touchdown by the Hokies. In overtime Virginia Tech went first and didn’t gain a yard but hit the 42-yard field goal, leaving those laying the points with the Cavaliers in need of a second session. The Hokies came up big on defense forcing another turnover to keep bowl hopes alive while maintaining the winning streak in this rivalry.

Oklahoma (-3) 59, West Virginia 56: This game for a spot in the Big XII title game lived up to expectations with a high scoring back-and-forth affair. A defensive touchdown gave Oklahoma the early edge with a 35-28 halftime advantage but West Virginia tied the game early in the third quarter and had a 49-45 lead through three quarters. It would be defense that again delivered for Oklahoma with a 48-yard fumble return touchdown with 10 minutes to go for a 10-point edge. West Virginia climbed back within three to match the closing spread though most Sooners backers likely had a number below -3. Oklahoma picked up a 4th-and-5 conversion just past midfield and then got another first down to end the game with the three-point edge.

Clemson (-25½) 56, South Carolina 35: Highly ranked Clemson was tested in a back-and-forth first half vs. South Carolina with the Tigers eventually posting 744 yards but not exactly looking like a championship contender on defense with the Gamecocks also reaching 600 yards of offense. The Tigers led by just seven at halftime and by 21 through three quarters but a 98-yard touchdown drive put the Tigers up by 28 and past the favorite spread early in the third quarter. The Gamecocks scored the next 14 to get back within the number as a late Tigers touchdown wasn’t quite enough to get past the heavy favorite spread.

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Marshall (-3½) 28, Florida International 25: The Herd led 14-0 early with the help of a interception return touchdown playing as a slight road favorite with a closing line of -3½ though most books opened with FIU as a slight favorite. Marshall scored on a blocked punt late in the third quarter to lead by 11 but early in the fourth the Panthers got a touchdown and a two-point conversion to trail by just three. Marshall answered with a four-minute drive to lead by 10 but FIU again scored to get back within three with about five minutes remaining. The Herd burned the remaining clock and got inside the 10-yard line of FIU but didn’t need to add points and took a knee for a common line push though the hook was added on Saturday for many.

Northwestern (-14½) 24, Illinois 16: With a championship game on deck Northwestern was sluggish early but two touchdowns in the final four minutes of the first half put the Wildcats up 21-6 and then a third quarter field goal made the margin 18 points on a spread that opened at 18 and dipped to 14½ by kickoff. Illinois would add 10 points in the fourth quarter in a game where the Illini had a production edge and actually had the ball inside the Northwestern 20-yard-line late with a potential chance to tie before an interception.

NC State (-7½) 34, North Carolina 28: These nearby rivals were tied 21-21 through three quarters and 28-28 late in the fourth quarter. NC State opted to punt across midfield in the final minute to play for overtime and the move paid off as the Tar Heels went first in overtime and missed a field goal. Much of the week the NC State was just -6 and that was the final margin with a Wolfpack rush into the end zone that preceded some spirited post-game activity in the end zone between the teams.

Liberty (-6) 28, New Mexico State 21: Liberty stormed out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter of this same-season rematch. New Mexico State would score on a kickoff return touchdown and an interception return touchdown to get back in the game before the end of the first quarter. Liberty moved ahead 28-14 by halftime facing a spread that dropped from -9 all the way to -6 by kickoff. With less than a minute to go the Aggies found the end zone on a 4th-and-goal play to land in the middle of the potential numbers.

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Boise State (-2½) 33, Utah State 24: Boise State led 17-7 early as just a slight favorite at home with a spot in the Mountain West Championship on the line. Through three quarters the lead was trimmed to six points and Utah State hit a field goal early in the fourth to trail by three. Boise State scored halfway through the final frame after getting a red zone 4th down conversion but a bad snap cost the Broncos the PAT for just a nine-point advantage. A pair of punts followed but with about three minutes to go the Aggies connected for an 83-yard touchdown to suddenly trail by just two. The Aggies had converted a 4th-and-1 from their own 24-yard line and hit the big play on 2nd-and-25 after a pair of penalties for what looked like a miracle score for those getting the points with Utah State, with a two-point margin thanks to Boise missing on the PAT earlier in the quarter. A 59-yard run put Boise State inside the Utah State 10 in the final minute and eventually facing 4th down with only eight seconds to go the Broncos opted to go for it from the 1-yard-line rather than kicking a field goal. Both types of scores would have been enough for Broncos backers and Alexander Mattison made it a moot point by pounding into the end zone to secure the home favorite win and cover.

California (-11½) 33, Colorado 21: The Bears had a pair of touchdowns on interception returns in the first two minutes of the game and then added another short field score to lead 21-0 as Colorado’s hopes of making a bowl game were extinguished quickly. The Buffaloes kept things interesting relative to the spread however as they scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to cut the margin to just six points after trailing 24-7 at halftime. The Cal offense barely topped 200 yards in the game but converted a red zone 4th down via penalty and added a touchdown for a 12-point edge, failing going for two to sit right near the spread that opened at -11, reached as high as -12½, and closed at -11½. The Buffaloes would reach midfield on a late possession but didn’t add points for a 12-point final margin that led to mixed spread results.

Stanford (-7) 49, UCLA 42: The Cardinal extended its lead to 41-27 late in the third quarter but the Bruins added nine points late in the quarter with a safety and a subsequent kickoff return touchdown to make it a five-point game into the fourth quarter. The Bruins took a one-point edge with a 90-yard touchdown drive five minutes into the fourth quarter but didn’t get the conversion. A minute later Stanford hit a 52-yard pass for a touchdown and the Cardinal got the two-point attempt for a seven-point edge in a critical play with a spread that bounced between -6½ and -7 for the road favorite. UCLA missed a long field goal try on its next possession and was stopped on downs on two late drives in Stanford territory as the Cardinal escaped with the seven-point edge holding.

Texas A&M (-3) 74, LSU 72: The Aggies led by seven after the second and third quarters but a defensive score for LSU tied the game early in the fourth quarter. LSU would take a 31-24 lead in the final frame and then stopped the Aggies on 4th down in LSU territory with just over two minutes to go. LSU only burned a minute off the clock before punting and Aggies delivered a big finish surviving an interception that was overturned on review and then converting a 4th-and-18. One second was put back on the clock for Texas A&M after a Kellen Mond spike and he hit Quartney Davis for the tying touchdown. The game would eventually go to seven overtimes with some big conversions on both sides to reach a basketball level final score. In the seventh session LSU scored on just one play but didn’t get the two-pointer to lead by just six. The Aggies got the tying score and then got a pass interference call on the first two-point conversion try. The Aggies then had a false start but found the completion for the go-ahead conversion though it wasn’t quite enough for Aggies backers who crossed or reached the favorite number going first in the second, fourth, and sixth overtimes but couldn’t end the game on defense.

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Notre Dame (-14) 24, USC 17: With all the pressure on Notre Dame as a heavy road favorite, USC led 10-0 early before the Irish got on the board just before halftime. Notre Dame was composed out of the break and scored 10 points to take a seven-point edge into the fourth quarter. On a spread that climbed from -8 to -14 Notre Dame made the margin 14 with a 51-yard passing touchdown with just over three minutes remaining to put most on the favorite in position to collect. USC didn’t fold however and on 3rd-and-10 in the final minute the Trojans hit a 20-yard strike to get back within the number.

Alabama (-26½) 52, Auburn 21: Alabama hasn’t had to do much 4th quarter scoring this season but after Auburn cut the margin to 10 points late in the third quarter Alabama turned it back on with three consecutive touchdowns on just eight offensive snaps to make it a 31-point margin with nine minutes to go in the game. Auburn gained some yardage late but wasn’t a serious backdoor threat late on two drives across midfield as the Iron Bowl wound up with a blowout final score and the heavy favorite snagging the cover.

UNLV (+14) 34, Nevada 29: The Wolf Pack led 23-0 early in this game but only took a 26-21 edge into halftime. UNLV kept the momentum and led through three quarters. A field goal put Nevada in front by one in the fourth quarter but with Armani Rogers back UNLV completed a late long drive to secure the upset while Nevada’s last threat ended with an interception.

Arizona State (-1) 41, Arizona 40: The Sun Devils opened as a 3-point favorite but the line dipped down to just -1 in this rivalry game with Arizona looking to earn a bowl spot. The line differences didn’t seem to matter with Arizona in front 40-21 through three quarters, missing on a two-point conversion tries when they were up 12 in both the second and third quarters. Those missed points came back to bite as Arizona State engineered a remarkable comeback with 20 points in the fourth quarter, with the final two scores following Arizona turnovers with the lead. After ASU went in front 41-40 with three minutes remaining, Khalil Tate led the Wildcats in position for a 45-yard field goal but the go-ahead kick was missed.

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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#220 Florida Atlantic -17 over Charlotte 5:00 PM CT

After Thursday’s loss at North Texas, the 2017 Conference USA champions need to win this game to make a bowl game. The Owls have much better statistics than the record suggests, outscoring conference foes by 37 points despite the 3-4 record. Charlotte was once 4-4 but now sits at 4-7 and Brad Lambert will not be retained the school announced after the 42-35 loss to Florida International. A lot of narrow losses filled the conference campaign but the 49ers might not have much left in the tank. In Boca Raton the Owls are 11-1 S/U and 8-4 ATS since losing the season opener last season and nine of those 11 wins have come by 18 or more points. Charlotte has not won a road game since November of 2016 with a 0-12 S/U and 4-8 ATS run with nine of those losses coming by double-digits.

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Don’t miss Nelly’s college football Game of the Year for Saturday coming off a 6-1 weekend last week. We hit our sixth consecutive 2* winner yesterday and we are on a 13-6 3* college football run since December 2015 while 4-0-1 in our last five college or bowl GOY picks.

Also check out the next 20* from the Big E in Conference USA – 9-4 this season in 20* & higher picks! Maximum has a rare 10* Game of the Month today to build on a huge college football season while Point Train has a late night 5-unit pick looking to add to nearly 70 units of profit this season!

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Free NCAA Pick Early Saturday

#204 Baylor +5.5 over Texas Tech 11:00 AM CT

Texas Tech has won by double-digits the past two seasons in this series after losing five in a row from 2011 to 2015. A season that has featured many promising moments comes down to this game for Kliff Kingsbury however. Both teams are 5-6 as a spot in the postseason is on the line in what feels like a critical season for Kingsbury.

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Baylor failed in a great opportunity at home last week with the Bears now losers of four of the past five. Texas Tech has much better scoring numbers in league play but has lost four in a row and the offense just hasn’t been as successful without Alan Bowman at quarterback including posting only 181 of offense last week at Kansas State.

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Baylor was burned by three turnovers last week to lose hosting TCU but the previous week the Bears posted over 500 yards of offense against one of the best defenses in the Big XII in a 28-14 loss at Iowa State. The Bears also have wins over Kansas State and Oklahoma State while competing very well at Texas with the only lopsided losses on the season coming at Oklahoma and at West Virginia. Texas Tech got to host those games as the Bears drew one of the tougher schedules in the conference.

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Thursday College Football Preview

Thursday Night College Football – Mississippi State at Mississippi

Mississippi State and Mississippi will be playing on Thanksgiving night for the second straight season as one of nation’s longest uninterrupted rivalries will be featured in the final Thursday night regular season game of the season. The Egg Bowl features great intensity and has featured numerous memorable games in recent years. Here is a look at Thursday Night Football between Mississippi and Mississippi State.

Match-up: Mississippi State Bulldogs at Mississippi Rebels

Venue: At Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi

Time/TV: Thursday, November 22, 7:30 PM ET ESPN

Line: Mississippi State -11, Over/Under 59

Last Meeting: 2017, Mississippi (+15) 31, at Mississippi State 28

After a post-game brawl in 1926 Ole Miss and Mississippi A&M (now Mississippi State) created a Golden Egg trophy for the victor although the rivalry game wasn’t referred to colloquially as the ‘Egg Bowl’ until 1979. While both programs have had some ups and downs the 2014 meeting was one of the high points of the rivalry with two highly ranked teams with #19 Ole Miss upsetting then #4 Mississippi State 31-17. This year’s game doesn’t carry the same weight but the intensity on the field will remain strong.

After a messy off-season in 2017 Matt Luke took over as the interim head coach for Ole Miss with the Rebels finishing 6-6 after winning this season finale vs. a ranked Mississippi State squad for the third win in the past four years of this rivalry. Luke was retained to lead the program moving forward and it has been an up-and-down season. A win this week at home will get the Rebels to 6-6 again though Mississippi is still in the midst of a postseason ban.

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There were big changes for Mississippi State ahead of this season as Dan Mullen departed after nine solid seasons in Starkville, taking over at Florida. Joe Moorhead was hired to lead the program following a four-year stint as Fordham’s head coach from 2012 to 2015 while serving as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Penn State under James Franklin the previous two years.

Moorhead inherited a great senior quarterback in Nick Fitzgerald to lead his offense but while Fitzgerald has been productive, he hasn’t had the same statistical success he had in his best season in 2016. He’ll likely surpass his rushing and passing totals from last season by the end of the season but his per carry average has gone down substantially, as has his passing completion rate.

Despite Moorhead’s offensive background the Bulldogs are 7-4 mainly thanks to the SEC’s second best scoring defense, allowing just 16 points per game in league play. 28 points allowed at Kentucky in the SEC opener has been the season high allowed by the Bulldogs, who held Alabama to a season low 24 points earlier this month. Mississippi State has only scored 17 points per game on average in SEC play however as the least productive offensive team in the entire SEC.

Mississippi has averaged nearly 37 points per game this season although just 25 points per game in SEC play. The Rebels are surrendering more than 36 points per game however and in SEC play that average is nearly 42 points per game as this matchup will feature a great clash of style and pace.

Mississippi is just 1-6 in SEC play only beating Arkansas and that win featured a wild comeback, trailing by nine with five minutes to go. Ole Miss has lost the past four games but two of those results have been single-score games including losing in overtime last week at Vanderbilt.

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Jordan Ta’amu has been very productive at quarterback for the Rebels as he’ll likely eclipse 4,000 yards passing this week, while posting nearly 9.6 yards per attempt. Ta’amu isn’t the ground presence that Fitzgerald is but he has rushed for 366 yards while Scottie Phillips is close to 1,000 rushing yards out of the backfield. A. J. Brown leads a talented receiving corps with 81 catches for 1,259 receiving yards, the fifth most yards nationally.

Mississippi State can clinch a winning season in SEC play with a victory this week to get to 5-3 with Mullen surprisingly only topping 4-4 in SEC play once in nine seasons in 2014. The Bulldogs would also finish at worst tied for third in the SEC West with a win with Mullen only finishing above 4th place in that 2014 season to potentially boost its bowl standing.

2016 Meeting: This was a bowl elimination game between 5-6 teams last season in Oxford. It was a back-and-forth first half with a 27-20 lead for Mississippi State. That score held until just over five minutes to go in the third quarter before the Bulldogs went on a 28-0 run the close the game for a somewhat misleading 55-20 final result. Mississippi State had just a 566-528 yardage edge and benefitted from a 2-1 turnover edge including a 4th quarter pick-six. Nick Fitzgerald rushed for 258 yards and accounted for five touchdowns while current Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson threw for 320 yards for the Rebels but had two interceptions to match his two touchdowns.

Last Season: Mississippi took an early 10-0 lead but the Bulldogs got a pair of field goals before halftime to trail 10-6.  A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf scored on receptions of 77 yards and 63 yards from Jordan Ta’amu in the final eight minutes of the third quarter as the Rebels led 24-6. Mississippi State made a late rally to close to within three points with just over a minute remaining but didn’t get the on-side kick attempt. Mississippi State had a 501-355 edge in yardage and a 27-11 edge in first downs but had five turnovers.

Historical Trends: Ole Miss owns a 21-17 S/U and 22-15-1 ATS edge in this series since 1980 including winning and covering in four of the past six meetings. Mississippi State won 55-20 two years ago in Oxford but is 2-7 S/U and 2-6-1 ATS in the last nine road meetings in this series. This will be the biggest road favorite spread for the Bulldogs in this series as far back as there is data to 1980. Mississippi State is 1-5 ATS in the past six games as a double-digit favorite including losing 28-7 at Kentucky this September in the most recent instance. Mississippi is 0-5 ATS in the past five games as a home underdog including going 0-2 S/U and ATS this season. Mississippi is 8-5 ATS as a double-digit home underdog since 2006.

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4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 12

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 12


Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in the 12th 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.

North Texas (-4½) 41, Florida Atlantic 38: In a rematch of last season’s Conference USA championship game, North Texas stormed out to a 17-0 lead as a slight favorite that climbed from -2½ to -4½. The Owls battled back to take a 21-20 lead in the second quarter and led 24-20 early in the third quarter with scoring drives of 29 and 22 yards following rare Mason Fine interceptions. North Texas posted back-to-back touchdowns to go up by 10 but Florida Atlantic climbed back within three by the start of the fourth quarter. The Owls would miss a potential tying field goal later in the fourth quarter and then with about four minutes remaining, DeAndre Torrey broke loose for a 92-yard touchdown run to put the Mean Green up by 10. The lead didn’t last as in three plays plus a personal foul Florida Atlantic went 73 yards to trail by only three. North Texas had to punt the ball back in the final minutes but sealed the game with an interception, though it wasn’t quite enough for most on the home favorite.

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Memphis (-8) 28, SMU 18: With a total of 75 fireworks were expected Friday night in this AAC West showdown. Offense didn’t materialize until late however as Memphis led 7-5 at halftime and 14-12 through three quarters. Memphis pulled ahead 21-12 early in the fourth and then put the game away with another 4th quarter score to lead by 16. SMU went 75 yards in five plays to get back within 10 and had the ball back in the final minutes. SMU crossed midfield but a pair of penalties and a sack forced the Mustangs to go for it on 4th-and-38 on their final play.

Boise State (-22) 45, New Mexico 14: The Broncos scored on a fumble return and added a field goal before halftime to turn a 14-7 edge into a 24-7 advantage. Boise State was up 31-7 through three quarters to sit just past the road favorite spread but New Mexico got on the board with an 86-yard punt return touchdown. The third turnover of the day for New Mexico handed Boise State a short field and the Broncos slipped past the favorite spread with a 41-yard touchdown run and for good measure the Broncos added another touchdown with just over a minute remaining.

Wisconsin (+3½) 47, Purdue 44: Purdue led by 11 heading into the fourth quarter and pulled ahead by 14 with a field goal with 10 minutes remaining. The Badgers put together a touchdown drive to trail by seven with fewer than seven minutes remaining and the defense stepped up to force a 3-and-out. Jonathan Taylor picked up 35 yards on 1st down and Jack Coan delivered three completions as Wisconsin tied the game with fewer than three minutes remaining. Purdue got 35 yards on first down but stalled at the Wisconsin 40 and opted to punt and Wisconsin was able to avoid disaster pinned deep managing to get into overtime. Both teams scored touchdowns quickly in the first two sessions but Purdue was held to a field goal going first in round three. A pair of Taylor runs completed the comeback for the Badgers with a huge day for the nation’s leading rusher.

Georgia (-42) 66, Massachusetts 27: The Bulldogs had 42 points by halftime and led 59-13 late in the third quarter. Massachusetts hit a big play as time expired in the third to take a 39-point deficit in the final frame. Georgia added an early touchdown to get past the heavy favorite spread again but UMass answered and Georgia methodically burned nearly nine minutes of game clock to complete the win without giving the ball back though they also failed to add points, falling just short of the massive number.

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Kentucky (-15) 34, Middle Tennessee State 23: The Wildcats were past the spread in the first quarter with a 17-0 edge and led 31-10 late in the third quarter before a Middle Tennessee State touchdown put the margin right on the number as the Blue Raiders missed the PAT. Middle Tennessee State would get within a single-score with an early touchdown in the fourth quarter to trim Kentucky’s lead to eight but the Wildcats added a field goal to lead by 11 with four minutes remaining, though it wasn’t enough to cover and the Blue Raiders were a much bigger threat to add late points, reaching the Kentucky 5-yard-line in the final minute.

Wyoming (-3) 35, Air Force 27: After a tight first half Air Force took control of this game with a 10-point lead through three quarters, and that lead was extended to 14 points after a short field goal with about nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Wyoming would complete a long drive with 4:32 to play to close to within six and the defense forced a 3-and-out. With a big 4th down conversion in their own territory the Cowboys eventually connected for a 22-yard touchdown pass with just over a minute remaining, taking a one-point lead that wasn’t quite enough for the favorite spread of -2½, eventually even closing at -3 at some outlets. Air Force threw a 1st down interception and Wyoming would add a late touchdown run on the short field for the improbable favorite cover.

Appalachian State (-27) 45, Georgia State 17: The Panthers hit a 52-yard field goal late in the third quarter to trail by only 21 but the Mountaineers scored two touchdowns in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter to lead by 35. Appalachian State was still ahead of the number after a Georgia State touchdown with eight minutes to go and they didn’t give the ball back with a 13-play drive to run out the clock.

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Oklahoma State (+6) 45, West Virginia 41: With a lot of attention on the home finale with Oklahoma, West Virginia was in control in Stillwater up 31-14 at halftime and still leading by 10 halfway through the fourth quarter. The Cowboys trimmed the margin to three just after the five-minute mark and the Mountaineers stalled near midfield with a false start penalty making it 4th-and-11 and necessitating a punt. With more than two minutes remaining the Cowboys went 75 yards in seven plays to take the lead with 42 seconds to go. Will Grier led the Mountaineers to the red zone and had one final shot with one second remaining from the 14-yard-line but the pass was broken up to shake up the Big XII standings.

Southern Miss (-2) 21, Louisiana Tech 20: The Bulldogs led 17-14 at the half before a scoreless third quarter. Louisiana Tech added a short field goal early in the fourth to lead by six, closing as a 2-point underdog but actually favored most of the week until flipping on Saturday. With Jack Abraham back at quarterback Southern Miss went 85 yards in 14 plays to take more than seven minutes off the clock, taking a one-point lead with six minutes to go. Louisiana Tech crossed midfield on its final possession but opted to punt on 4th-and-10 and didn’t get the ball back as Southern Miss burned the final four minutes for the one-point win, with mixed spread results depending on the timing.

Florida State (+3) 22, Boston College 21: Boston College led by one through three quarters and seemingly was in control after an 18-play drive put the Eagles up by eight early in the fourth quarter, closing as a 3-point favorite in Tallahassee, though early in the week the line flipped back-and-forth between -1 on either side. Florida State managed a field goal to close to within five with 12 minutes remaining and the defense forced consecutive Boston College punts. Getting the ball back with two and a half minutes to go the Seminoles picked up a first down then connected for a huge play, striking for a 74-yard touchdown. Up one, Florida State went for two and failed as the one-point edge would prove to be the final margin.

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Nebraska (-2) 9, Michigan State 6: The Huskers flipped to the favorite role Friday night and failed to score until the fourth quarter. Michigan State had a 6-0 edge in windy conditions in Lincoln. One of several unsportsmanlike penalties in a testy game gave the Huskers good field position after the kickoff and with a 35-yard gain on 1st down, Nebraska was able to get on the board with a field goal. Michigan State fumbled a few plays later and suddenly Nebraska had tied the game 6-6 with eight minutes to go after being unable to find the end zone despite 1st-and-goal from the 2-yard-line. Kicking into the wind Michigan State had a marginal 3-and-out and punt as Nebraska had good field position again and despite gaining only 23 yards, the Huskers went in front with a 47-yard kick from Barret Pickering. The Spartans gained yardage on its final two possessions but had their final threat end on downs on the Nebraska 29-yard-line as the Huskers picked up a narrow comeback win.

UCLA (+3) 34, USC 27: USC led 27-21 through three quarters at the Rose Bowl after settling for a 22-yard field goal. After an exchange of punts, the Bruins were buried at their own 3-yard-line early in the fourth quarter but eventually took the lead thanks to a 55-yard run from Joshua Kelley. JT Daniels was picked off on the next snap for USC but the Trojans stayed in the game as UCLA had to settle for a 19-yard field goal for a four-point edge. The Bruins had a quick 3-and-out however and UCLA added another three points to lead by seven. USC was a threat to force overtime reaching the UCLA 29-yard-line in the final minute but the Bruins defense held on.

Clemson (-29½) 35, Duke 6: The Blue Devils provided an early scare with a 6-0 lead but Clemson scored just before halftime to make a 14-6 advantage. The Tigers would add two third quarter touchdowns and early in the fourth quarter Clemson went up 35-6 for a 29-point margin on a spread that opened at -27 and reached as high as -29½.

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Oregon (-3½) 31, Arizona State 29: The Ducks led 28-13 at halftime and wound up with a substantial production edge late Saturday night. Arizona State chipped away with a third quarter field goal and then got a short field touchdown following a muffed punt, one of four Oregon turnovers on the day. That put the Sun Devils within five but Oregon was able to add a field goal to push the lead up to eight points. Arizona State converted a big late 4th down and wound up in the end zone with about four minutes to go. The Sun Devils had to go for two and the tie but couldn’t convert. Oregon threw an interception near midfield to give the Sun Devils another shot. Arizona State couldn’t take advantage as they fumbled on a third down sack and Oregon was able to run out the clock for the win but failed cover with the late melt.

Vanderbilt (-3) 36, Mississippi 29: The Commodores led by seven through three quarters but Mississippi rallied late and wound up tying the game with 40 seconds remaining in a game the Rebels had a substantial yardage edge in. Vanderbilt needed only three plays to score a touchdown in overtime but the Commodores gave Ole Miss a big gain on first down with a penalty. The Rebels couldn’t deliver however ending the game with three straight incomplete passes.

Hawai’i (-7) 35, UNLV 28: The Warriors fell behind 21-3 hosting UNLV but battled to within eight by the start of the fourth quarter. UNLV scored early in the fourth on a short field drive to lead by 15 but Hawai’i eventually responded with a 64-yard touchdown pass, plus the two-point conversion to trail by seven. Up seven halfway through the final quarter UNLV aggressively went for it on 4th-and-1 just across midfield and came up short, giving the Hawai’i the opportunity to tie the game with about four minutes to go. The Warriors forced a punt and hit another big play to suddenly go in front by seven on a spread that fluctuated between -6½ and -7.