4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 2
Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in the second 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.
Louisville (-17) 62, Syracuse 28: The Cardinals stormed out to a 21-0 lead less than five minutes into the first quarter with some big plays but despite allowing huge numbers the Orange managed to stay in the game and eventually trailed by just 14 points heading into the final quarter. Louisville settled for a pair of field goals early in the quarter to keep Syracuse within a score of an underdog cover but turnovers on three consecutive Syracuse possessions in the fourth quarter allowed the Cardinals to add a few more points to create a lopsided final margin though the Cardinals deserved it with an eye-popping 845 yards of offense.
Boston College (-16) 26, Massachusetts 7: The Minutemen struck first vs. Boston College with a big play to take a 7-0 lead but by halftime the Eagles were up by six and the margin inched closer to the spread with a 19-7 lead through three quarters. A strong punt return put Boston College in good field position late in the game and a 5-play 35-yard drive put the Eagles past the road favorite spread with just over four minutes to go.
Arkansas (+10½) 41, TCU 38: Despite dominating the yardage TCU dug an early hole vs. Arkansas to trail 13-0 at the half with the lone Razorbacks touchdown coming on an interception return. The Frogs still trailed by 13 entering the fourth quarter but finally started to cash in opportunities, scoring three straight touchdowns to take a 28-20 lead, past a spread that sat at -7 early in the weekend before a big late line move. The defense let the Frogs down again as Arkansas managed to tie with a touchdown and a successful two-point conversion with just over a minute to go. TCU got a 64-yard kickoff return however and looked certain to take the win but a failed cover, lining up a 28-yard field goal attempt only to have it blocked. After trading touchdowns in the first overtime TCU settled for a kick in the second session and Arkansas found the end zone for the upset.
Michigan (-37) 51, Central Florida 14: The heavy favorite spread on this game eventually climbed to 37 and that is right where the final score landed. The Wolverines reached that margin early in the third quarter with a 44-14 advantage but a long run put Central Florida in the end zone as Michigan led by just 30 heading into the fourth quarter. Wilton Speight threw another touchdown pass with about 10 minutes to go to make it 51-14 and the final three drives for Central Florida ended on downs in Michigan territory as the Knights were certainly in position to spoil the cover despite not quite getting there.
Appalachian State (-21) 31, Old Dominion 7: Coming off the strong opening week performance against Tennessee, Appalachian State had a little trouble pulling away from Old Dominion as a 24-7 lead at the half stayed right there for over 29 minutes in the second half before a short run on just a 39-yard drive put the Mountaineers ahead 31-7 and past the favorite spread in the final minute of the game. The Monarchs came up empty on two long second half drives, stopped with an interception on the 15-yard line and on downs from the 30-yard line.
Pittsburgh (-3) 42, Penn State 39: The hosting Panthers were a bigger favorite than -3 most of the week and they had a 28-7 lead until a touchdown in the final minute of the first half for Penn State. After trading scores in the third quarter Pittsburgh still had a 14-point edge entering the fourth quarter. A touchdown and a field goal in the span of less than two minutes put the Nittany Lions down by just four early in the final frame however. Pittsburgh answered on a short field off a turnover to lead by 11 but with five minutes to go in the game Penn State found the end zone and lined up for a critical two-point conversion down by five. The conversion was good to cut the margin to three points and the Penn State defense held to get the ball back. With the Lions down to the Pittsburgh 31-yard line, an interception ended the threat and the game landed on the closing number.
Indiana (-17) 30, Ball State 20: Indiana had a 30-0 lead in the third quarter but Ball State would score the final 20 points in the game including getting a blocked punt returned for a touchdown as they wound up stealing a backdoor cover on the Hoosiers with the last touchdown coming with just over three minutes to go.
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Navy (-3½) 28, Connecticut 24: A 21-0 lead for Navy was erased quickly as an 86-yard fumble return late in the third quarter became a third straight Huskies score to knot the game at 21-21, returning the favor as Navy had scored on a fumble return touchdown early in the game. In the final quarter Connecticut took its first lead of the game with a 38-yard field goal but after trading punts the Huskies were pinned deep and punting from the end zone Navy wound up with incredible field position late in the game. It took just a 17-yard scoring drive as the Midshipmen took the lead with about four minutes to go, slipping just past the closing spread as well. The Huskies were not done as they reached 1st and goal with 45 seconds to go but the Huskies mangled the clock management burning a final timeout when they didn’t need to and eventually running out of time after running the ball on 2nd down.
Texas (-31) 41, Utep 7: Texas led by just six until a touchdown just before halftime. The margin was still 13 well into the third quarter before the Longhorns had back-to-back short touchdown drives in a span of just over two minutes. The margin was just 27 at that point but Texas would add another touchdown in the fourth quarter to sneak past the big number that rose all week.
Colorado State (-8) 23, Texas San Antonio 14: The line on this game dropped all week to just -8 for the Rams and at halftime it was a tight game with a 20-14 lead for the hosts. The Rams stalled on offense in the second half but the defense stopped the Roadrunners twice on 4th down attempts just outside of field goal range as the margin remained at six. In the final minutes Colorado State added a field goal which was critical for many supporting the home team. An interception by Texas San Antonio in their own territory seemed to offer Colorado State a chance to tack on more points to cover the early week numbers as well but they were able to run out the clock.
Washington (-36) 59, Idaho 14: Washington was up 42-0 at one point but Idaho was back within 35 early in the fourth quarter. The Huskies added a field goal and an interception return touchdown late in the game to put away the Vandals.
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Alabama (-27) 38, Western Kentucky 10: While the closing line dipped below four touchdowns, many had to lay -28.5 or higher on the Crimson Tide. Alabama only led by 17 entering the fourth quarter but back-to-back touchdown drives put the lead to 35 points. Western Kentucky managed to spoil the cover for some however finding the end zone in the final minute on a short field following an Alabama fumble.
Oregon (-24) 44, Virginia 26: The Ducks led by 24 at the half and then by 31 late in the third quarter but the scoring for Oregon stopped from there on as Virginia added two late touchdowns to score the underdog cover. Oregon was to the Virginia 38-yard line in the final three minutes but there was no urgency to put points on the board and they stayed at 44.
Miami, FL (-26) 38, Florida Atlantic 10: The Hurricanes led 24-3 late in the third quarter but Florida Atlantic hit a big play to find the end zone for the first time in the game. Miami added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to slip past the spread including the final score coming with just a minute to go in the game despite the victory being in hand.
Georgia Southern (-12½) 24, South Alabama 9: At the half Georgia Southern led just 10-6 but they added scores early in both the third and fourth quarters to lead 24-6 and past the road favorite spread. South Alabama threatened in the middle of the fourth quarter but wound up kicking a short field goal to leave the margin at 15 points. The Jaguars then were stopped on downs after an 11-play drive to the edge of field goal range and then late in the game a 71-yard drive to the Georgia Southern 6-yard line ended in an interception as the Eagles escaped with a lucky road favorite cover.
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Nebraska (-26½) 52, Wyoming 17: For the second straight week Nebraska turned in a big fourth quarter as they led Wyoming by just seven through three quarters. Nebraska scored four touchdowns in the final frame with a few short fields as Wyoming eventually ended up with six turnovers in the game. The late scoring also turned a likely ‘under’ into an ‘over’.
Utah (-3½) 20, BYU 19: The Holy War was sloppy this season with nine combined turnovers and Utah opening the scoring with an interception return touchdown. At halftime the Utes led by one but they pushed past the slight home favorite spread with a field goal in the third quarter. Utah entered the red zone in the final minutes looking to put the game away but they settled for a short field goal to lead by just seven. Taysom Hill engineered a 75-yard drive in the final three minutes to pull the Cougars within one and the new coaching staff made the bold play to go for two, a decision those on the slight underdog certainly favored as well. BYU didn’t convert as Utah held on but BYU backers collected without having to sit though overtime.
Boise State (-13) 31, Washington State 28: The Broncos led by 10 heading into the fourth quarter and pulled ahead by 17 on the first play of the final frame. Washington State quickly answered to get back within the number and a touchdown pass with about four minutes to go in the game put the Cougars within three. A second straight Boise State interception gave Washington State the ball back and a real shot at the upset but the drive stalled near midfield, though the Cougars had done enough to win plus the points.
San Diego State (-5½) 45, California 40: With the help of a kickoff return touchdown and an interception return touchdown the Aztecs pulled to a 10-point lead at the half and that was extended to a 17-point lead halfway through the third quarter. A 59-yard pass play gave the Bears a bit of momentum and by the end of the third quarter California trailed 38-31, right even with the common spread on the game, though just before kickoff the home favorite number did slip. The Bears scored a field goal early in the fourth quarter but San Diego State seemed to lock up the game with a touchdown drive to lead by 11 with less than three minutes to go in the game. California converted a 4th down play in their own territory and eventually went the distance on a 12-play drive to score a spread-spoiling touchdown in the final minute of the game, trailing by five after missing the two-point conversion. The on-side kick was actually successfully recovered and the Bears reached the San Diego State 22-yard line in the final seconds before an interception ended the game.
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