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NFL Close Calls – 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 Week 2 of the NFL regular season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+6½) 20, Carolina Panthers 14 (48): The Thursday night game featured a weather delay and a slow early scoring pace as Joey Slye hit four field goals to give the Panthers a brief 12-10 lead halfway through the third quarter. Tampa Bay answered with a 75-yard touchdown drive as the road underdog took a 17-12 lead heading into the fourth quarter on a Peyton Barber score. After a Carolina fumble and a missed Tampa Bay field goal, Barber would be the victim of a safety early in the fourth as the Panthers climbed within three points to keep overtime in the range of possibility. Getting good field position after the defensive score the Panthers were stopped on 4th-and-short just past midfield but a pair of punts followed before the Buccaneers extended the lead to six points. Cam Newton and the Panthers got the ball back with just over two minutes remaining needing a touchdown drive and they eventually reached the Tampa Bay 11-yard-line with a new set of downs. Short gains and a penalty left the Panthers facing 4th-and-1 from the 2-yard-line and a direct snap to Christian McCaffrey was sniffed out as the Buccaneers were the NFC South squad to avoid the 0-2 start.
Indianapolis Colts (+3) 19, Tennessee Titans 17 (43½): The Colts had two first half touchdowns but led only 13-7 with another missed PAT from Adam Vinatieri. The Titans scored on a short field after the break to lead 14-13 and then after a Jacoby Brissett fumble, Tennessee added a field goal despite only picking up 14 yards. The Titans forced a punt and had the momentum to put the game away after pass interference call converted a big 3rd down. A few plays later Marcus Mariota was sacked on the subsequent 3rd down and the Titans settled for a kick to go up seven, only this time Cairo Santos missed. The Colts didn’t take advantage on its next possession but getting the ball back with just under seven minutes remaining the Colts were able to hit a big play with a 55-yard-run and got the eventual touchdown to take the lead. Vinatieri would again miss the PAT however to leave the lead in jeopardy. The Titans had an opportunity crossing midfield in the final minute but ultimately couldn’t get the job done as the Colts played a second-straight down-to-the-wire game, this time winning.
Detroit Lions (+1) 13, Los Angeles Chargers 10 (47): The Lions missed a field goal six minutes before halftime and allowed the Chargers to add three before the break to trail 10-6. Matthew Stafford had an interception on the first drive of the second half but the Lions were bailed out with the defense forcing a fumble of Austin Ekeler on 1st-and-goal. More mistakes followed as the Chargers missed two field goals surrounding another Stafford interception before Detroit broke through in the fourth quarter with a big play to Kenny Golladay, leading 13-10. The Chargers reached the red zone late in the fourth quarter but went backwards and Philip Rivers wound up intercepted on 3rd-and-19 before the Chargers had a chance to struggle with the decision to try for the tying field goal from punter Ty Long who was serving as the kicker with Michael Badgley injured.
Dallas Cowboys (-6) 31, Washington Redskins 21 (46): After a scoreless first quarter Washington took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter that held until Dallas hit a 51-yard touchdown with about six minutes remaining. Dallas also managed to find the end zone just before halftime to suddenly take a 14-7 lead. The Cowboys kept the momentum with another touchdown out of the break to lead 21-7 but Washington answered to sit a point short of the underdog number down 21-14. Dallas had a touchdown brought back on a penalty and Washington’s defense was able to hold for a field goal, sitting just one touchdown away from covering the number into the fourth quarter. A promising drive stalled just past midfield and with still more than 11 minutes on the clock Washington went for it on 4th-and-3 and came up empty. Dallas put the game away with another touchdown on the short field. Washington would climb back within 10 with a touchdown just ahead of the two-minute warning to clear the ‘over’ but they couldn’t get a stop to get the ball back.
Houston Texans (-7) 13, Jacksonville Jaguars 12 (43½): Houston led just 6-3 through three quarters after a scoreless third quarter but the first touchdown of the game came from Deshaun Watson with just over 11 minutes remaining. That touchdown put the Texans past the favorite spread for the first time in the game. Gardner Minshew led the Jaguars down the field for a field goal to trim the margin to seven, with a spread that closed right at +7 from as high as +9½. The Jaguars held on defense to get the ball back and Jacksonville converted two fourth downs on the way to the red zone. With 30 seconds left Minshew connected with DJ Clark and down by one the Jaguars opted to go for the win but came up short on a Leonard Fournette rush attempt.
Green Bay Packers (-3) 21, Minnesota Vikings 16 (43): After a win in Week 1 but limited offensive production for the Packers in Matt Lafleur’s debut, Green Bay came out firing in the home opener. The Packers scored just over two minutes into the game and eventually went up 21-0 early in the second quarter. Dalvin Cook broke a 75-yard run to break the momentum for the Packers and after missing an early field goal Dan Bailey added three before halftime to put the Vikings back in the game down 21-10 after the Packers opted not to kick on 4th-and-1 from the Minnesota 25. The Vikings thought they added seven on that drive with a three-yard score to Stefon Diggs questionably overturned via replay to call offensive pass interference under the new challengeable rules. Green Bay would fumble on its first possession of the second half and the Vikings added a short field touchdown to climb within five, with Bailey’s PAT blocked. Five straight punts followed as neither offense could get anything going and ‘over’ backers moaned after supposedly sitting pretty with the hot scoring start. The Vikings were poised to take the lead with about five minutes remaining reaching the Green Bay 8-yard-line with a new set of downs but Kirk Cousins made an ill-advised throw to the corner of the end zone that was intercepted on 1st down. Green Bay was able to run out most of the remaining clock to hold on despite the offense disappearing, while the ‘under’ also held on.
Chicago Bears (-3) 16, Denver Broncos 14 (40½): The spread on this game fluctuated a lot after quickly rising from even to the Bears as a slight favorite. A common number was -2 for the Bears much of the weekend but on Sunday afternoon the Bears hit -2½ and eventually -3. Chicago didn’t impress early in the game but managed a 13-3 edge through three quarter to sit comfortably ahead of the number. In the fourth the Broncos completed a lengthy drive to add three points and were poised to tie the game with 1st-and-goal from the 4-yard-line. Joe Flacco eventually was intercepted but pinned deep Chicago punted a few plays later to give the Broncos another shot. This time Flacco delivered including two 4th down conversions and after the touchdown with 31 seconds left Flacco delivered what looked like the game-winning two-point conversion in a huge bold play from Vic Fangio against his old team. It was not to be as a borderline 1st down roughing the passer call gave the Bears a big boost and Mitchell Trubisky struck for 25 yards on 4th-and-15 in the final seconds. Chicago still had a timeout and new kicker Eddy Pineiro became a hero hitting from 53 yards.
Atlanta Falcons (+1) 24, Philadelphia Eagles 20 (53½): The Falcons had a 17-6 edge in the third quarter of this game but Matt Ryan had an interception deep in his own territory to get the Eagles back in the game. Philadelphia appeared to add the two-point conversion as well but Carson Wentz was ruled down just short of the line as Atlanta held a five-point lead. Ryan would be intercepted in the end zone on the next possession when a field goal could have put the margin to eight points. After swapping punts Philadelphia delivered a tremendous 13-play drive to burn well over eight minutes to take the lead. Up by one the two-point conversion try loomed large on a spread that was commonly +2 before sliding to +1 and the Eagles hit Zach Ertz to lead by three. Atlanta stalled near midfield facing 4th-and-3 at its own 46 when a short pass to Julio Jones to get past the sticks turned into a 54-yard score. Up four Atlanta’s defense still had a lot of work ahead with the Eagles converting an epic 4th-and-14 for 43 yards and getting a free timeout as an Atlanta player was injured on the play. With still a minute to go, an Eagles score seemed inevitable but the Eagles picked up just two yards in the next three plays and faced 4th-and-8. Wentz hit Ertz again incredibly close to the line but he was ruled just short with that spot holding on review as Atlanta escaped with the win.
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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.
#161 North Texas +14.5 over California 3:15 PM CT
The win could deserve an asterisk with an over two-hour delay in the late night time slot Saturday but California narrowly edged Washington for a second straight season. Justin Wilcox has never not started 2-0 for California but there has been inconsistency after that but the Bears are now one of only two 2-0 teams in the Pac-12 North and neither is one of three teams that most expected to be in the top half of the group.
Cal has a great defense but like last season, it was a fortunate result vs. the Huskies with the Bears getting turnover help and winning on a late kick despite struggling on offense. Coming off a blowout loss North Texas could present some promise in this matchup as Mason Fine is a proven quarterback and the Bears will host an ESPN game next Friday as the letdown risk is high in Berkeley.
California is on a 22-29-1 ATS run as a favorite since 2009 and the Bears are on a 2-5-1 ATS run in home games since the start of last season, averaging only 18.9 points per game vs. FBS competition at home. North Texas has won S/U in six of the past 10 road games and this will be the second biggest underdog spread for the Mean Green since the start of the 2017 season. North Texas beat Arkansas on the road last season and played competitively at Iowa two years ago as they have been able to play up.
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NFL Close Calls – Week 1
Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in Week 1 of the NFL regular season.
Philadelphia Eagles (-10) 32, Washington Redskins 27 (44): Case Keenum hit several big plays early in his Washington debut as the Redskins stunned the Eagles with a 17-0 lead 20 minutes into the game and held on to a 20-7 edge at halftime. Philadelphia erased that lead in a three-minute span in the third quarter with back-to-back scores to lead by one heading into the fourth. The Eagles kept the momentum with an early fourth quarter touchdown and then a field goal with about three minutes remaining put the Eagles past the heavy home favorite spread for the first time in the game leading by 12. Having punted on its first three possessions of the second half with a total of five yards gained, Washington put together a 16-play, 75-yard drive that ended with an underdog cover saving touchdown with six seconds on the clock.
Buffalo Bills (+2½) 17, New York Jets 16 (41): The Jets took the lead early on an interception return touchdown but missed the PAT and that was the only scoring of the first half with Josh Allen having four turnovers for the Bills. The Jets led 8-0 after a safety on Buffalo’s first offensive snap of the third quarter and with good field position they added a touchdown to lead 16-0. Buffalo finally answered with a field goal and then in the fourth quarter produced an impressive touchdown drive to trail by only six with about 10 minutes to go. The Jets picked up a first down but opted to punt short of midfield rather than risk going for it on 4th-and-2. Allen led an 8-play, 80-yard touchdown in just three minutes as the Bills took a 17-16 lead with about three minutes to go. The Jets got close to midfield on its next drive but couldn’t convert for a one-point loss in a game where new kicker Kaare Vedvik missed two kicks.
Tennessee Titan (+5½) 43, Cleveland Browns 13 (44): The Browns crept back in this game with a touchdown to trail by only two late in the third quarter but a 75-yard touchdown followed to put the Titans in commanding position leading 22-13 through three quarters. Those on the ‘under’ still had some room to work with but back-to-back Baker Mayfield interceptions handed the Titans short fields and Tennessee scored quickly on drives of only 35 and 34 yards to push the total ‘over’, eventually adding a Malcolm Butler pick-6 later in the game for good measure to create the blowout 30-point final margin.
Arizona Cardinals (+3) 27, Detroit Lions 27 (48½): Laying just a few points against 2018’s worst NFL team seemed too good to be true but the Lions got out to a 17-0 edge in the second quarter and after the defense held Arizona to a pair of field goals, wound up in front 24-6 early in the fourth quarter. Zane Gonzalez added a field goal to trim the margin to 15 points and Detroit had a 3-and-out. Kyler Murray then led his first NFL touchdown drive with David Johnson going in from 27 yards and the Cardinals were within a single score with six minutes to go. Detroit should have been able to put the game away, but Arizona exhausted its timeouts and ultimately the Lions had to punt from midfield, with a poor effort going only 11 yards. With a short field Arizona was able to work its way down the field and Murray again delivered a touchdown as well as a two-point conversion to tie the game. Arizona went first in overtime and reached the Detroit 8-yard-line but had to settle for a short field goal. The Lions likewise couldn’t get through to the end zone and tied the game at 27-27. Arizona faced a dilemma on 4th-and-7 from the Detroit 46 with the risky options to try an extremely long field goal or go for the 1st down both likely to hand the game to the Lions if they failed. The Cardinals played for the tie and punted to the Detroit 5-yard-line where the Lions didn’t offer much of a threat to deliver a miracle late score.
Los Angeles Chargers (-6½) 30, Indianapolis Colts 24 (44½): Side and total results faced a dramatic finish in the battle of 2018 AFC playoff teams. The Chargers had a 17-6 lead at halftime after Adam Vinatieri missed a PAT and a field goal to cost the Colts. He hit for three on the first drive of the third quarter, but the Chargers answered with a touchdown to lead by 15. In two plays the Colts answered back to get back within a single score down eight, just short of a spread that bounced between 7 and 6½ before even sliding to just 6 at some outlets by kickoff. The Colts got the break they needed late in the third quarter with a muffed punt return catch but Vinatieri would miss again from just 29 yards early in the fourth to keep the margin at eight. The Chargers moved to 1st-and-goal with a chance to put the game away but an interception in the end zone gave the Colts new life. 16 plays later the Colts found the end zone while converting a 4th down along the way. The two-point conversion with less than a minute on the clock could have ended the spread uncertainty but Marlon Mack got through and tied the game to force overtime. The Chargers got the ball first and hit a big early play that withstood review. On 3rd-and-1 the Colts needed a stop to stay in the game but the Chargers converted and ran into the end zone on the next play. With no PAT needed in OT most on the Colts still covered while the late Indianapolis touchdown secured the ‘over’ as well.
New Orleans Saints (-6½) 30, Houston Texans 28 (51½): With a 14-3 halftime lead the Texans underdog cover appeared on track on a line that dipped from +7 to +6½. New Orleans scored quickly out of halftime, but the Texans were able to answer to maintain an 11-point lead. A late third quarter touchdown put the Saints down by four and a few plays later Deshaun Watson was intercepted giving the Saints the ball back near midfield. On the first play of the fourth quarter the Saints took their first lead by three. Both teams had to punt before Houston appeared to climb into scoring range reaching the New Orleans 44. Watson took an 11-yard sack and Houston had to punt. Pinned deep the Saints got 41 yards on a huge 3rd-and-2 play and eventually had a new set of downs on the 33-yard-line of Houston, with those on the Saints and the ‘over’ eagerly awaiting a score. Houston’s defense held leaving the Saints to kick a field goal with 50 seconds left, leading by only six. Watson needed only two plays to find the end zone with completions for 48 and 37 yards as the Texans stunned the Superdome crowd. The game was tied ahead of the PAT which Ka’imi Fairbarin incredibly missed right, a controversial flag came out as Fairbairn was contacted well after his kicking leg came back down and on the retry Houston went up by one to take overtime out of the picture and confirm the underdog cover. New Orleans would use the final 37 seconds to go 35 yards and Will Lutz came through with a 58-yard field goal for a dramatic win for the Saints.
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 big weekend of the college football season. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows.
Wake Forest (-20) 41, Rice 21: This Friday night spread eventually hit -20 for the Demon Deacons who were caught in a 14-14 tie after the first quarter. Rice wouldn’t score again until the final two minutes of the game, but that score cut the margin from 27 to 20 to give the Owls a push for many on the closing number.
Boise State (-14) 14, Marshall 7: While the Broncos were never past this spread Friday night as Marshall scored first, they were a serious threat to beat the number in the closing seconds. Boise State had a dominant yardage edge in the game but Marshall had the ball with a chance to tie halfway through the fourth. An interception quickly gave the Broncos the ball back and Boise State led a 15-play drive to run the rest of the remaining clock, with those on the favorite not getting the breakthrough rush they needed with Boise State eventually taking a knee inside the 10-yard-line.
Georgia Tech (-4½) 14, South Florida 10: After a disastrous showing in the opener vs. Wisconsin, South Florida did find the scoreboard first in this game with an early field goal. Georgia Tech would take over from there with two second quarter scores to lead by 11. Both teams had productive drives that came up empty in the third quarter and as Georgia Tech looked to put the game away South Florida picked up an interception to stay in the game. The Bulls slipped within the spread with an early fourth quarter score and appeared poised to take the lead after getting the ball back off another turnover. Facing 3rd-and-goal at the 1-yard-line South Florida fumbled away its chance to go-ahead as the Yellow Jackets got the win but didn’t add points to get past the spread.
Colorado (+4) 34, Nebraska 31: A close call didn’t seem likely for Nebraska is this old Big 8 rivalry with a 17-0 halftime lead. Colorado didn’t score until late in the third quarter but struck again with a 96-yard pass play to climb within three early in the fourth quarter. It was back-and-forth from there with 38 combined fourth quarter points including Colorado tying the game with a 26-yard touchdown pass in the final minute. The Buffaloes went first in overtime and settled for a field goal while Nebraska lost seven yards on a 3rd down sack and wound up missing from 48 for a second straight difficult loss in this series.
Clemson (-14½) 24, Texas A&M 10: The defending national champions didn’t score until nearly 20 minutes into this game but wound up leading by 14 at halftime. The third quarter featured more defense until the Tigers completed a quick 83-yard touchdown drive to lead by 21. Texas A&M had a golden opportunity to score in the fourth quarter but wound up intercepted at the 1-yard-line. It looked like Clemson would add another score to seal the favorite cover but Trevor Lawrence was also picked off near the end zone to halt a productive drive. Down three touchdowns the Aggies only had five minutes to work with but they put together a quality drive and eventually the spread result boiled down to a 4th-and-goal play at the Clemson 2-yard-line with 10 seconds on the clock. Kellen Mond hit Jalen Wydermyer for the score, meaningless to the outcome and the national picture but a huge swing play for many in one of the marquee non-conference games of the season.
Alabama (-55) 62, New Mexico State: A 55-point spread seems outrageous regardless of the competition but Alabama wound up leading 38-0 at the half and had the margin to the 55-point mark through three quarters after answering a New Mexico State touchdown with 17 points in the final four minutes of the third quarter. Both teams had 3-and-out possessions to start the fourth before the Aggies broke through with a few decent gains after starting in good field position and nailed a 43-yard field goal that proved to be the difference in the game.
Wyoming (-7½) 23, Texas State 14: Home underdog Texas State led 14-3 early and dominated the box score in this game. Wyoming managed to climb to within a point in the third quarter and then disaster struck for the Bobcats on a potential scoring drive with interception returned the other way for a 72-yard touchdown, suddenly putting Wyoming in front. Down six the Texas State defense stepped up to hold Wyoming to a 19-yard field goal from 1st-and-goal from the 2-yard-line but that kick put Wyoming past the road favorite spread with about 10 minutes to go. After an exchange of punts Texas State appeared to give itself a shot at the comeback but a field goal was missed with three minutes remaining. Down nine in the final seconds the outcome was set but Texas State would get a final play from the Wyoming 6-yard-line with the spread result on the line but the Cowboys got the stop and turned in a second straight win despite losing badly in total yardage for a second straight week.
BYU (+3½) 29, Tennessee 26: The Volunteers program has had plenty of low moments in the last decade but the start of the 2019 season is certain to join that growing list. The Volunteers led 13-3 at the half, settling for a pair of second quarter field goals. BYU would score in the third but Tennessee still led 16-10 early in the fourth and then 16-13 much later in the game. The game appeared over as BYU was pinned at its own 8-yard-line facing 2nd-and-18 in the final minute but incredibly struck for a 65-yard completion and managed to spike the ball to stop the clock in time to get off and make the tying field goal. The Volunteers would have pushed or lost on most spreads as the real losers in overtime proved to be those on the ‘under’ as both teams scored touchdowns in the first session. Tennessee settled for three in round two and BYU needed only three plays to hand Tennessee a second straight home loss with a stunning comeback win.
Kentucky (-15) 38, Eastern Michigan 17: Kentucky was in control most of the way against Eastern Michigan but led by 14 through three quarters in a game where they had only a 76 yard edge in total production. Early in the fourth Kentucky connected for a 54-yard touchdown pass from Sawyer Smith on his first throw after Terry Wilson was injured on a vicious horse collar tackle. Mark Stoops didn’t forget that play with his offense passing three times on a late Kentucky drive including on 1st down in the final minute when the Wildcats could have taken a knee to end the game. That throw resulted in a spread swinging touchdown, though Stoops is fortunate he didn’t lose another player to a senseless injury on an unnecessary play. Spread result justice was nearly served as Mike Glass drove the Eagles down to the Kentucky 10 in the final seconds but couldn’t connect in the end zone.
North Carolina (+4) 28, Miami, FL 25: The Tar Heels had a hot start with a few big plays to lead 17-3 early but Miami proved to be the stronger squad posting 99 more yards in the game. The Hurricanes went up 25-20 in the fourth quarter but failed on the two-point conversion try. The Miami defense seemed ready to wrap up the game and but North Carolina converted a 4th-and-17 and eventually went ahead with a touchdown with a minute remaining. The two-point conversion put the Heels up three but Miami quickly went down the field as overtime looked likely if not a win in regulation for Miami. The drive stalled and kicker Bubba Baxa had his third missed kick of the day leaving seven points on the field in addition to Miami failing on a 4th-and-1 in the red zone in the third quarter for a tough luck 0-2 start for the Hurricanes.
LSU (-6½) 45, Texas 38: The Saturday night showcase game lived up its billing with an exciting display of offense. Texas trimmed LSU’s lead to 23-21 entering the fourth quarter but it didn’t take long for LSU to climb back up by nine The teams exchanged scores again in quick order before Texas stalled and settled for a field goal to cut the margin to six points with four minutes to go, a significant figure with a spread that hovered near that margin all week. Texas had a chance to get the stop it needed for a shot at the upset but on 3rd-and-17 Joe Burrow hit Justin Jefferson for 61 yards and LSU added the two-point conversion, ending hopes for the underdog with a 14-point margin. Texas would score in the final seconds but the road favorite escaped with the win and cover.
Auburn (-16) 24, Tulane 6: Tulane was a popular underdog with a spread that was as high as +18½ upon its release. Auburn led by eight late in the third quarter before completing a long drive to lead 21-6. The Tigers added a field goal in the fourth quarter before a Tulane opportunity near midfield fell short. Auburn would fumble two plays later to give Green Wave backers a miracle opportunity with the ball at the Auburn 36 but Tulane only advanced a few more yards and again fell short on 4th down.
Texas Tech (-35) 38, UTEP 3: The Red Raiders led 21-0 at halftime and 31-0 through three quarters. Adding a touchdown early in the fourth Texas Tech was past the number at 38-0. UTEP was intercepted on the second play of its next drive but offsides gave the ball back and Miners wound up nearly doubling its game production by getting in position for a shutout-spoiling field goal with about five minutes to go, while also spoiling the big favorite cover for many as well.
Penn State (-31½) 45, Buffalo 13: You’ll do a double-take when pulling up the box score on this game as despite slipping by the heavy favorite spread with a 32-point win, Penn State was out-gained 429-357 and had only 14 first downs. A pick-six in the third quarter put the Lions in front after actually trailing 10-7 at the half while a big punt return aided by a penalty helped Penn State quickly score again to suddenly lead 21-10. Buffalo added a field goal in the third to sit down by eight and seemingly well within a safe range for the underdog cover but Penn State scored two more touchdowns in the final seven minutes of the third and added an early fourth quarter field goal to lead by 25. Buffalo then reached the Penn State 25-yard-line but failed on 4th-and-2 and with three minutes to go and a significant lead James Franklin called back-to-back pass plays, the second of which resulted in a 56-yard touchdown that put Penn State ahead by 32 and was actually the longest scoring drive of the game for the Lions. Buffalo reached the Penn State 35-yard-line on its final possession but again couldn’t convert on 4th-and-short as Bulls backers had a puzzling loss given a nearly 3:1 time of possession edge for the heavy underdog.
Minnesota (-3) 38, Fresno State 35: These teams have had exciting games the past two years with nearly identical results. Minnesota trailed 21-14 through three quarters and still 28-21 as the fourth quarter clock ticked down. On 4th-and-13 Tanner Morgan hit Chris Autman-Bell in the corner of the end zone, and he barely snuck a toe in for the tying score. In overtime Fresno State benefitted from a 3rd down roughing the passer call and found the end zone on the next play but Minnesota needed only three plays to answer. Going first in round two Minnesota had to settle for a field goal to sit even with the common road favorite spread. Jorge Reyna took a shot at the end zone for the win on first down and he was intercepted by Austin Winfield, who sealed last season’s win for the Gophers with an interception in the end zone as well.
#317 Syracuse +1.5 over Maryland 11:00 AM CT
This is rare game with both teams coming off shutout wins. While Maryland scored more than three times as many points as Syracuse in its shutout win last week, they did so vs. FCS Howard, a team that won four games last season and also lost by 40 to Kent State last year. Shutting out Liberty might not sound impressive, but the Flames won six games last season and are an FBS squad that has quickly risen to a respectable level, bringing back a veteran quarterback with great experience on both sides of the ball. Liberty is playing an independent schedule but will be a threat to make the program’s first bowl game by season’s end. Tommy DeVito has big shoes to fill replacing Eric Dungey but he played in six games last season including leading wins over North Carolina and Florida State when he was a freshman. DeVito didn’t play well in the opener but the Orange running game provided three touchdowns and nearly 200 yards and Syracuse is poised to have its best defense in many years. The Orange held Liberty to negative rushing yards and held senior quarterback Steven Calvert to one of his worst career games. Syracuse has a season-making game with Clemson up next, a team they beat two years ago in the Carrier Dome and had on the ropes last season. That has led many to flock to Maryland this week but in six years as an ACC team Syracuse is 5-1 S/U in the game prior to facing Clemson. Mike Locksley is 1-0 at Maryland but his career 4-31 record as a head coach Is hard to ignore, even with this spread flipping after Syracuse opened as a slight favorite. Josh Jackson is two years removed form his fine 2017 season at Virginia Tech and Maryland lost three home games last season while allowing 29 points per game overall. Last week’s shutout was certainly looks likely to be the only zero that the Maryland defense will put up this season returning the fifth least experience in the Big Ten. Syracuse was unquestionably the second best team in the ACC last season yet the team is getting minimal respect coming off a 10-win season and with Dino Babers 56-35 in his career, quickly providing success at three programs.
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