4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 10
Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in the 10th college football weekend to start November. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows.
Buffalo (-8) 51, Miami, OH 42: The home favorite spread grew from -6½ to -8 by kickoff and the result would come down to the wire in Tuesday’s high scoring MAC contest. Buffalo extended its lead to 35-21 early in the second half and maintained a 14-point edge late in the third quarter but Miami scored twice in the final three minutes of the quarter to tie the game, successfully recovering an on-side kick to set-up the second score. Buffalo answered with about nine minutes remaining in the game but the PAT was missed to leave the underdog Redhawks in position to cover. The Bulls stopped Miami on downs near midfield and then added a field goal to slip past the favorite spread with a nine-point edge. Down two scores Miami continued to move the ball effectively but a sack on the edge of the red zone led to the game’s only turnover. Buffalo wasn’t able to run out the clock as Miami would have another opportunity to spoil the favorite cover but needing to throw down the field, the Redhawks ended with four straight incomplete passes.
Kent State (-1½) 35, Bowling Green 28: The Flashes led by eight through three quarters closing as a slight favorite in this battle at the bottom of the MAC. Following a fumble Bowling Green made a late charge completing a 4th-and-7 and eventually scoring a touchdown to get within two with about five minutes remaining. The two-point conversion was successful to tie the game and both teams followed with 3-and-out possessions. Kent State got the ball back in good field position and broke a 34-yard run to sit in field goal range with fewer than two minutes remaining. The Flashes scored on the next play with an 18-yard rush for a seven-point edge. Bowling Green lost big yardage on a fumble on its final drive but retained possession facing 2nd-and-28 and then 3rd-and-12, with the Flashes sealing the game with an interception.
Toledo (-21) 45, Ball State 13: Toledo jumped out to a 21-0 lead in Wednesday’s MAC game with a defensive score on one of 10 turnovers these teams combined for in the game. Up 28-7 at halftime Toledo was even with the closing spread before adding a field goal in the final seconds to close the third quarter. Ball State scored a touchdown in the fourth but failed going for two, trailing by 18 on a spread that opened at -17 and closed at -21 for the Rockets. It wound up not mattering as Eli Peters threw two more touchdown passes in the fourth quarter as Toledo pulled away for a 32-point win despite only out-gaining Ball State by 94 yards.
Northern Illinois (-6½) 36, Akron 26: The Huskies managed 10 points in the final six minutes of the first half to lead by 14 at the break but Akron rallied in the third quarter, seemingly tying the game with a touchdown to trail 27-26. The PAT was blocked and returned the other way for two points as Northern Illinois took a three-point edge in the final quarter. Jalen McKie who had the PAT return score, would then intercept a pass for a touchdown in the fourth quarter as the Huskies added seven more points and wound up with the narrow favorite cover without scoring on offense in the final 26 minutes of the game.
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Central Florida (-10) 52, Temple 40: The Thursday night TV game in the American generated a lot of interest and the line wobbled all over the place, opening at -12 falling to -10½, climbing back to as high as -13 before crashing all the way back down to -10. Temple had its way offensively in this game and led 34-28 at the half with the ‘over’ cleared in just two quarters. Looking to keep the nation’s longest winning streak going UCF scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to lead by eight with Temple having an interception and a missed field goal. The Owls picked up an interception early in the fourth quarter and would add six points with about 10 minutes remaining in the game, trailing by two, with that margin holding after a failed two-point conversion bid. The Knights went 75 yards in six plays to go up by nine and Owls backers could feel the sting coming as Temple had to work to move down the field, reaching the UCF 20-yard-line on a 10-play drive but taking a sack and forced to go for it on 4th-and-20, coming up with an incomplete pass. With still five minutes to go the Knights couldn’t lay off the gas but UCF was stopped on 3rd-and-3 after Temple exhausted its timeouts just past the two-minute mark. UCF opted to kick the field goal from 32 yards, enough to earn the cover for many on the favorite with the middle possible as well.
Middle Tennessee State (-13½) 29, Western Kentucky 10: The Hilltoppers hit a 46-yard pass play late in the third quarter to enter the final frame down 23-10. Western Kentucky held the Blue Raiders to a short field goal early in the fourth to remain within two scores but falling outside the underdog cover. With a chance to get back within the number the Hilltoppers had a field goal blocked and then later in the fourth was forced to go for it on 4th down in their own territory. Middle Tennessee State added another short field goal to lead by 19 and a last effort from Western Kentucky ended in an interception.
Arizona (-3) 42, Colorado 34: Arizona had a big yardage edge but it was a two-point game at half-time and the Wildcats led just 35-34 through three quarters Friday night. Early in the fourth Arizona hit a 57-yard pass for a touchdown to lead by eight and Colorado couldn’t answer, opting to go for it on 4th-and-9 rather than kick a field goal with 10 minutes remaining. The Buffaloes got another shot after an Arizona interception with Colorado reaching the 18-yard-line before also being intercepted near the goal line and Arizona was able to run out the remaining five minutes of game clock.
Purdue (-2) 38, Iowa 36: Purdue led by 12 entering the fourth quarter but Iowa scored two touchdowns in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter with an interception leading to the second score as suddenly the slight underdog Hawkeyes were in front by one. After trading punts Purdue got the ball back near midfield and managed to waste the rest of the clock and line up a 25-yard field goal for the win, though for most Iowa still had enough to cover priced at +2½ most of the week before bouncing in between +2 and +1½ in the hours before kickoff.
Georgia Tech (-4) 38, North Carolina 28: The Yellow Jackets allowed an early defensive score but rallied to lead 21-10 at the half and 28-20 through three quarters. Early in the fourth North Carolina found the end zone and went for two, successfully tying the game. Georgia Tech was in position to quickly answer but fumbled inside the 10-yard-line but North Carolina would return the favor with an interception. Georgia Tech converted a 4th down play and then added a touchdown with three minutes remaining and then after another Tar Heels interception sealed the game with a field goal.
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Memphis (-11) 59, East Carolina 41: This game was tied halfway through the third quarter and Memphis led by just four well into the fourth quarter. The Tigers scored two touchdowns in the span of just over four minutes to pull ahead by 18 as a toxic against the spread season for a productive East Carolina team continued. The Pirates got back within 11 briefly but after a failed on-side kick East Carolina allowed an aggressive Memphis offense to get down the field. The Tigers opted to go for it on 4th-and-goal in a huge play for the spread outcome and succeeded to create the 18-point final margin. East Carolina had its own 4th down attempt in the final minute inside the 10-yard-line but the pass was broken up.
West Virginia (-1) 42, Texas 41: The Longhorns were a 3-point favorite early in the week before dipping to -2 or -1½ and in the hour before game time the number flipped as the Mountaineers closed as a slight favorite. Texas led by one at the half and by four through three quarters, adding a field goal to lead by seven in the fourth quarter. West Virginia completed an 11-play touchdown drive to tie the game with about six minutes remaining but Texas hit a 48-yard pass to lead by seven with just over two minutes to go. West Virginia didn’t face a 3rd down and connected for a 33-yard touchdown with just 16 seconds left on the clock to seemingly force overtime. The Mountaineers declined that opportunity and went for the win with Will Grier getting into the end zone for the one-point victory.
Army (-4½) 17, Air Force 14: Air Force had a few tough breaks in the first half to trail 14-0 but took advantage of a short field late in the third quarter to finally get on the board but the PAT failed, leaving the Falcons down eight with a spread that was +7 most of the week before sliding Friday night and Saturday morning. Army turned in a long drive and managed a field goal to lead by 11 but Air Force put together its best drive of the day to add a touchdown with about five minutes remaining. Down five the Falcons went for two and got it on a play that loomed large for the closing spread of 4½. Army had to punt as the Falcons were a threat to tie the game, eventually reaching the Army 38-yard-line before failing on 3rd and 4th down runs.
South Carolina (+2) 48, Mississippi 44: Ole Miss pulled ahead 44-34 in the first minute of the fourth quarter but South Carolina answered with a touchdown three minutes later to get back within three. The Gamecocks held the Rebels to back-to-back 3-and-outs and then broke a 69-yard run on 1st down, getting in the end zone a few plays later to take the lead. Ole Miss would reach midfield on a late possession but the Gamecocks held on.
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Auburn (-3½) 28, Texas A&M 24: The Aggies dominated the box score in this SEC West battle and led 24-14 through three quarters on the road. Early in the fourth Texas A&M missed a short field goal and then later in the fourth the Aggies had an interception at the edge of field goal range to keep the margin at 10. Auburn got back in the game going 71 yards in only two minutes to climb within three with about five minutes remaining in the game. Texas A&M reached midfield but had to punt and a strong return set Auburn up near midfield for the two-minute-drill. It didn’t take long for the Tigers to deliver going 58 yards in two plays as Auburn suddenly was leading and in front of the closing spread. Three penalties thwarted the final drive for Texas A&M as Auburn escaped with a very fortunate result.
Baylor (+6½) 35, Oklahoma State 31: A blocked punt return put Baylor up at halftime but two touchdowns late in the third quarter put Oklahoma State in front by 10. Baylor had a 75-yard rush to answer to trail by three going into the fourth quarter. Justice Hill scored with nine minutes to go as Oklahoma State was back in front by 10 but the Bears would answer with an 86-yard touchdown drive with fewer than six minutes remaining. Up by three the Cowboys would face a decision just past the two-minute mark, facing 4th-and-2 from the Baylor 36-yard-line. Oklahoma State went for it and took a sack setting up the Bears with great field position. Baylor wasn’t content to play for the tie and wound up in the end zone for the upset with seven seconds to go.
Massachusetts (+2) 62, Liberty 59: UMass led by seven entering the fourth quarter but Liberty scored three touchdowns in the first four minutes of the final frame to suddenly lead by 14. Massachusetts would answer to get back within seven and then forced a punt. The Minutemen converted a 4th down to keep hopes alive and eventually ran into the end zone with 25 seconds remaining. Liberty had a shot late but threw an interception at the 5-yard-line as time expired. It took three overtimes but starting the third session Liberty converted a 4th-and-1 rather than kicking a field goal but then two plays later lost the ball with an interception. Massachusetts did enough to get the game-winning field goal for the narrow win and cover for most, though Massachusetts did open at -3.
Notre Dame (-9½) 31, Northwestern 21: Notre Dame posted nearly double the yardage against Northwestern but had trouble pulling away with a 7-7 halftime score. Notre Dame scored twice late in the third quarter and pushed the lead to 24-7 early in the fourth. Northwestern hit a few big plays to climb back within 10, with a spread that opened at just -7 but briefly went as high as -10½ before settling back below -10. A blocked punt handed Northwestern great field position and suddenly the Wildcats were back within three after getting in the end zone on a 4th down rush. Notre Dame went 89 yards for a touchdown with about three minutes remaining to put the margin back at 10 where the final ended.
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USC (-15½) 38, Oregon State 21: USC had a 21-0 edge halfway through the second quarter but Oregon State climbed back in the game with two touchdowns before halftime. The seven-point margin held into the fourth after an exchange of touchdowns in the third quarter but USC broke a 62-yard run in the fourth to go back up by 14 following Oregon State failing going for it on 4th down in USC territory. The Beavers would wind up punting on the next two possessions while USC added a field goal that was critical to the spread outcome.
Washington (-8½) 27, Stanford 23: The Huskies went up 21-0 early in the second quarter in this Pac-12 North clash and that score held at halftime. Stanford battled back in the second half and closed to within seven with a field goal early in the fourth quarter. Washington responded in kind to lead by 10 with five minutes remaining on a spread that was -10 much of the week but slipped to -8½ by kickoff Saturday night. Stanford hit a 33-yard touchdown pass with three minutes remaining but missed the PAT. Washington wasn’t able to add points to get back in front of the number, pinning Stanford at the 15-yard-line. The Cardinal made a late threat but wound up intercepted in the end zone in the final seconds but Stanford had done enough in the second half to cover.