Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the 4th quarter last week in college football. 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, get the details in this weekly column.
Texas Tech (-1) 24, Iowa State 13 (63½): Texas Tech entered last week with the #1 total defense in the nation but most viewed those great numbers as a factor of an incredibly weak early season schedule. The Red Raiders were impressive on the defensive side of the ball in the conference opener at Iowa State however and led 14-13 entering the 4th quarter. While Texas Tech closed as just a 1-point favorite the spread was higher than that most of the week but those on the home underdog were left disappointed as Texas Tech pulled away with 10 points in the 4th quarter, holding Iowa State to just 189 total yards.
Purdue (-17) 51, Marshall 41 (61): Purdue led 42-14 at halftime after two interception return touchdowns in the span of less than two minutes of game clock. Marshall’s pass attack fought back into the game however also aided by a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, leaving Purdue with a 45-28 lead entering the 4th quarter, right at the closing number and just ahead of the spread available most of the week. After an exchange of touchdowns including a potentially critical blocked extra-point, Marshall wound up scoring last with a touchdown to cut the margin to 10 points with just over three minutes to go. Purdue wound up going for it on 4th down deep in Marshall territory on its final possession, falling short and leaving the underdog with the cover.
Duke (+2½) 34, Wake Forest 27 (57½): These nearby ACC rivals were locked at 20-20 entering the 4th quarter but Duke struck first in the final frame, eventually forced to play with its back-up quarterback. After the teams traded a few empty drives Duke wound up sealing the game up with a touchdown with less than three minutes to go to lead by 14. Wake Forest did find the end zone in the final minute to make the final more respectable and that was a critical score for totals players at the final touchdown and extra-point pushed the total slightly ‘over’ the number.
South Carolina (-20) 38, Kentucky 17 (51½): Anyone on the SEC home underdog had to feel good early as Kentucky led 17-7 at halftime over highly ranked South Carolina. South Carolina took the lead with two 3rd quarter touchdowns but the nearly three-touchdown spread looked too far to reach. It was not the case as Marcus Lattimore scored on two short touchdown runs and then South Carolina added a late field goal to win 38-17, at or just past most of the favorite spreads. The late scoring also pushed the total ‘over’ in a game that featured pretty low yardage numbers with both teams primarily running the ball.
Northern Illinois (-10) 55, Central Michigan 24 (57½): The final score makes this critical MAC clash look like a blowout but Central Michigan battled back after a poor start to get three points early in the 3rd quarter and then trailed by just 10 entering the 4th quarter. Northern Illinois scored three touchdowns in the 4th quarter to pad the numbers including two scores in the final four minutes to create a misleading final.
Texas (-2) 41, Oklahoma State 36 (64): This critical Big XII game had a wild finish with these teams trading scores most of the way. Texas closed as a very slight favorite and the Longhorns led by four at halftime and then by just two heading into the third quarter. After trading scores that margin was cut to just one point as Texas failed on a two-point conversion with less than six minutes to go. Oklahoma State took the lead with a short field goal after a nice defensive stand from Texas and that allowed the Longhorns to win by five after punching into the end zone with less than 30 seconds to go, covering the spread in a coin-flip game. The final touchdown proved controversial as Texas running back Joe Bergeron appeared to fumble going into the end zone but there was no review.
West Virginia (-12) 70, Baylor 63 (84): A lot of points were certainly expected in this conference opener but few could have imagined this display with 133 points and over 1,500 yards of offense. As double-digit favorites West Virginia got out to a 56-35 lead in the 3rd quarter after a tie game at halftime but Baylor battled back and scored three touchdowns in the 4th quarter to eventually lose by seven, though the Bears were never able to get closer than that in the exchange of scores. West Virginia got the ball back with about three minutes to go but they eventually were able to take a knee after Baylor used its timeouts.
Georgia (-14) 51, Tennessee 44 (60): Georgia and Tennessee were locked at 30-30 at halftime after a big 2nd quarter from the Volunteers but Georgia took over in the 3rd, taking a 51-37 lead, right at the spread. Tennessee scored with about nine minutes to go to cut the margin in half and Tennessee had chances to get closer as the final three Volunteer possessions ended in turnovers.
Oregon State (+3) 38, Arizona 35 (58½): Arizona led 28-24 entering the 4th quarter but Oregon State pulled out another big win with a touchdown drive with just over a minute to go in the game. Arizona still led by four after a touchdown with just over five minutes to go but the Beavers were able to keep pace offensively, posting over 600 yards and then intercepting Arizona to end the game.
Florida State (-17) 30, South Florida 17 (52½): Florida State led by just three early in the 3rd quarter but that lead was stretched to 30-10 after a fumble return touchdown. South Florida scored early in the 4th to take the cover back and Florida State had a sloppy finish to the game with two 4th quarter fumbles, failing to get any more points to threaten winning against the spread.
Utah State (-21½) 35, UNLV 13 (57): Utah State led just 20-13 entering the 4th quarter after being held scoreless in the 3rd quarter. The Aggies would score twice in the first five minutes of the 4th however and sitting up 20 Utah State opted to go for two and failed to leave the margin just short of the spread in what would have been a spread result changing conversion. Utah State would still get those two points, getting a late safety to get past the large spread for the first time in the game and leaving underdog backers with a bad beat.
Fresno State (-8) 52, San Diego State 40 (61½): In a sloppy high-scoring game Fresno State rallied from an early deficit to take a 46-40 lead after a late 3rd quarter field goal. Fresno State was still short of the spread at that point and had not been past the number in the entire game but they came up with another touchdown late in the 4th quarter and then held firm on defense the rest of the way.
North Texas (-7) 20, Florida Atlantic 14 (49½): This spread opened at just -4 as the middle was there for the taking as the line close at -7 for the road favorite Mean Green. North Texas led 17-0 at one point but Florida Atlantic would score two touchdowns in less than two minutes of game clock, one late in the 3rd and the second early in the 4th. North Texas added a late field goal to create the six-point final margin.