4th Quarter Covers - Week 6
October 9, 2012
By Joe Nelson
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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 fourth 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.
Central Florida (-12) 40, East Carolina 20 (45½): The Knights led by just three late in the third quarter, but they hit a 64-yard pass play to put some distance on the Pirates. In the fourth, UCF added 10 more points to earn the late cover and create a somewhat misleading final as East Carolina led 14-0 at one point and the yardage was rather close as the Knights benefited from a kickoff return touchdown.
USC (-14) 38, Utah 28 (50): Utah stormed out to an early lead at home against USC on Thursday night with a couple of breaks early, but by halftime, USC had taken a 24-21 lead. There were no points scored in the 3rd quarter as both defenses stepped up, but USC connected on a bomb for an 83-yard touchdown pass. Utah then gave away the game with an interception returned for a touchdown that put USC ahead of the spread. Utah was stuffed on its next possession, but the Utes put together a spread-stealing final drive, punching in the end zone with 38 seconds to go.
Northern Illinois (-3) 35, Ball State 23 (66): Ball State led 23-14 at one point and still held a 23-21 lead entering the fourth quarter. These teams combined for over 1,000 yards, but the scoring was kept in check with field goals, penalties, and turnovers. Northern Illinois took the lead with a 54-yard pass play with less than five minutes to go in the game and after forcing a second straight three-and-out from Ball State, the Huskies broke a big run late to seal the game.
Clemson (-11½) 47, Georgia Tech 31 (70): Clemson led this game just 30-28 entering the fourth quarter after settling for a short field goal. Georgia Tech took the lead back early in the final frame with a short field goal of its own, but then things went south for the Yellow Jackets. Clemson answered with a quick touchdown drive to take the lead and they connected on the two-point conversion as well. Georgia Tech got pinned deep in its own territory after a poor kickoff return and eventually got nabbed for a safety to put Clemson up by nine. Clemson didn't get past the double-digit spread until the final minute of the game, cashing in with a short touchdown game to seal the game.
Penn State (-3) 39, Northwestern 28 (49): The Wildcats led, 28-17 entering the fourth quarter following a 75-yard punt return touchdown late in the third quarter. Penn State came alive in the fourth quarter however, cutting the margin to just three points with a touchdown and a two-point conversion. The Lions would score two more touchdowns in the final three minutes of the game after Northwestern was stopped in its own territory and was forced to go for it on fourth down. Penn State did dominate the yardage in the game, but the final score was a bit misleading.
Oregon (-24½) 52, Washington 21 (62½): The Ducks have been victim to the backdoor cover in several games this season but they turned the tables last week. Leading by 24 points entering the fourth quarter, Oregon added two more touchdowns early in the final quarter to get past the spread and the defense played a complete game to hold the margin above the number.
Wisconsin (-15) 31, Illinois 14 (44½): This was a low-scoring grind most of the way as Wisconsin led just 10-7 entering the fourth quarter. The Badgers put together a nice scoring drive early in the fourth and then on the next possession, Wisconsin went for a big play and got a 59-yard touchdown pass to get past the spread leading, 24-7. Illinois would find the end zone again, but Wisconsin had time to answer with a touchdown with just over three minutes to go to take the game and the cover. The final score also pushed the low total just slightly 'over' the closing total.
Idaho (-8½) 26, New Mexico State 18 (55): Looking for its first win, Idaho led by 10 at halftime and added two field goals in the third quarter to go up, 26-10. That would have been enough to hold on for the win and cover, but New Mexico State finally cashed in with a short touchdown pass with less than two minutes to go. Down by 10, the Aggies opted to go for two in what became a spread-changing two-point conversion, cutting the final margin to just eight points. New Mexico State did have more yards in the game so the underdog cover was not unjustified.
Toledo (-11½) 50, Central Michigan 35 (64½): Toledo only led by three entering the fourth quarter, but after a field goal and an interception return touchdown, the Rockets moved past the spread for the first time in the game with just over nine minutes to go. The lead was cut down to just five with three minutes to go in the game and after Toledo settled for a field goal with less than a minute to go, the underdog cover looked safe. As Central Michigan attempted to get down the field with hopes of tying the game, an interception was returned for a touchdown with 38 seconds left on the clock, the third non-offensive touchdown of the game for Toledo and a miracle cover for the favorite.
Louisiana Tech (-27) 58, UNLV 31 (70): Louisiana Tech has high-scoring potential, but the defense that has allowed the most yardage in the nation, often keeps things interesting all the way through. UNLV rallied to get within three points after falling behind big early in the game, but by the end of the third quarter the Bulldogs had stretched out to a 20-point lead, though still short of the spread. Louisiana Tech scored twice in the fourth to get past the big numbers including the second score with less than three minutes to go, but UNLV had a touchdown drive left, hitting the end zone with just over a minute to go to force a push for many.
Fresno State (-17½) 28, Colorado State 7 (59½): The Bulldogs remain perfect on the year ATS, but Fresno State had just 14-0 lead in a tight defensive struggle through three quarters in Fort Collins. Fresno State managed to pull away with two touchdown drives early in the final quarter and a late Colorado State touchdown spoiled the shutout but not the spread result.