4th Quarter Covers - Week 7
October 16, 2012
By Joe Nelson
Editor's Note: Joe Nelson is on fire in the NFL with a sizzling 27-10 (+1,556) record through six weeks. You can purchase Joe's season package by clicking here.
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 final quarter details in this weekly column.
Arizona State (-22) 51, Colorado 17 (56): The Buffaloes surged to get within three points at halftime, but the momentum didn’t carry over to the second half. Arizona State returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown after halftime and then added another score to lead 34-17 entering the fourth quarter, still short of the heavy road favorite spread. ASU was held to a field goal about midway into the fourth quarter in what looked like a spread-saving stand for Colorado, but the Sun Devils kept the offense going, adding two more touchdowns in the final six minutes of the game.
Tulsa (-17) 33, UTEP 11 (58½): Tulsa led just 13-3 late in the third quarter, but things changed drastically in the final four minutes of the quarter. Ja’Terian Douglas broke an 81-yard run for a touchdown, but the extra-point was missed, leaving those on Tulsa -17 concerned with the lead right at 16. Just over a minute later, Tulsa returned a fumble for a touchdown to essentially lock up the victory. There was certainly spread drama in the fourth quarter as UTEP connected on a long pass play for a touchdown and got the two-point conversion to cut the margin to 15 points. Tulsa answered with a touchdown to get back past the spread and UTEP came up empty on three late possessions.
Western Kentucky (PK) 31, Troy 26 (54½): This line fell throughout the week as the Hilltoppers were three-point favorites at one point. Western Kentucky went up 28-20 with a late third quarter touchdown, but Troy answered just before the end of the quarter with a 47-yard touchdown pass. Troy opted to go for two to try and tie the game but they failed, a key play for those involved on the pointspread. That allowed Western Kentucky’s field goal with just over a minute to go in the game to push the lead to five for the clear cover. Troy had three possessions in the final quarter but didn’t threaten to score, getting stopped going for it on fourth down twice.
Ohio (-18) 34, Akron 28 (68): While this line was at 20 or higher much of the week, the Bobcats led 20-0 early in the game and took a 20-point margin into the fourth quarter leading, 34-14. The backdoor cover played out as Akron made the final score deceptively close with two late touchdowns, the second of which came with less than two minutes to go. With the late flurry, Akron actually outgained Ohio in the game, but the Bobcats seemed to get a bit complacent defensively and the numbers may not be that meaningful.
Temple (+5) 17, Connecticut 14 (41): UConn had a hot start, getting up 14-0 in this game, but the Huskies did not score again. Connecticut was still holding on 14-7 deep into the fourth quarter, but the Owls tied the game with just 19 seconds to go after a 72-yard drive featuring two fourth down conversions. In overtime, UConn was held to a field goal attempt, but the 28-yard kick missed and Temple was able to be conservative to line up the game winning kick for the upset. Huskies' kicker Chad Christen missed four field goals on the day as Connecticut certainly had opportunities to put this game away.
Ball State (-2½) 30, Western Michigan 24 (65): The Broncos led 21-7 at one point and took that lead into the fourth quarter. That lead held until the final minute of regulation as the Cardinals got the go-ahead touchdown with 50 seconds left. Western Michigan had enough time to get a tying 52-yard kick to force overtime, but in the extra-time, Western Michigan missed a field goal and allowed Ball State to win and cover by rushing in for a touchdown.
Kansas State (-6) 27, Iowa State 21 (47½): The Wildcats were favored by more than six most of the week and in what proved to be a defensive grind, Kansas State pulled to a 24-14 lead late in the third quarter. Iowa State would cut the margin back to three early in the fourth quarter and then Kansas State drove deep into Cyclone territory, but had to settle for a field goal with just over four minutes to go to take a six-point lead. Iowa State got the ball twice in the final minutes, but did not threaten to score and Kansas State was able to run out the clock.
Mississippi (-4) 41, Auburn 20 (49): Ole Miss was favored by up to 5½ most of the week before this line closed right at four. That was the margin heading into the fourth quarter, but the Rebels added a field goal to go up by seven. The game remained in doubt until Ole Miss broke a big pass play for a 55-yard touchdown with five minutes to go. After an Auburn turnover, the Rebels punched in another touchdown to create a misleading final score although the yardage differential was substantially in favor of the Rebels.
Oregon State (+6) 42, BYU 24 (38½): This was not the defensive showdown that most expected with two teams that needed to replace injured quarterbacks. Both teams scored early and often and the game was tied 21-21 entering the fourth quarter, but very early in the final frame, the Beavers took the lead for good as an underdog. The scoring was padded late with an interception return touchdown as Oregon State added two touchdowns in the final six minutes.
Alabama (-21½) 42, Missouri 10 (42): The final score makes this look like a typical Alabama blowout and the Tide was in control with a 28-0 lead at one point. Missouri did get a lift with a kickoff return touchdown and cut the margin to just 18 points entering the fourth quarter to sneak back within the spread. Alabama kept the ball on the ground and pounded out two more touchdowns late in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Notre Dame (-7) 20, Stanford 13 (42½): The Irish remained perfect but this win came with great difficulty and late controversy. Stanford led 10-3 entering the fourth quarter with the only touchdown coming on a fumble recovery, but the Irish were able to find the end zone early in the fourth. Stanford added a field goal to take the lead, but Notre Dame tied the game in the final seconds with a short kick after failing to punch the ball into the end zone. Notre Dame scored a touchdown in overtime and Stanford moved to first and goal from the four-yard line. On the fourth consecutive rush, Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor was ruled down, but he did not appear to actually hit the ground and his second effort seemingly got him into the end zone. His progress was ruled stopped short of the goal with the whistle blowing and that decision stood on review. While the spread opened and closed at above seven at several outlets, a push was a common result.
Mississippi State (-3) 41, Tennessee 31 (56): The Bulldogs led 27-14 at the half, but Tennessee clawed back into the game, back within three by the start of the fourth quarter and right even with the spread. Scoring was slow to come in the fourth, but the offenses traded touchdowns in the middle of the quarter and then Mississippi State put together a long drive to melt most of the clock. Facing fourth and goal from the Tennessee nine-yard line with 14 seconds left, the Bulldogs opted to go for it with a passing play. The move worked and Mississippi State found the end zone, sealing a stunning late cover for the favorite.
UCLA (-10) 21, Utah 14 (51½): Those that played this game early in the week may have had a push, but this line climbed throughout the week. UCLA still looked like they would get there, leading 21-7 through three quarters and well into the fourth quarter. The Bruins would be forced to punt on their final three possessions and Utah put together a 90-yard drive late in the game, finding the end zone with just over three minutes to go to make the final margin closer and to steal the cover against most backing the favored Bruins.
UL-Monroe (-23½) 35, Florida Atlantic 14 (56): While not many people likely saw this game, the ending was painful for anyone on the favored Warhawks. While UL-Monroe led just 28-7 entering the fourth quarter, just shy of the heavy favorite spread, they quickly added another touchdown to go up by 28. In similar fashion to how UL-Monroe stole a cover late against Baylor a few weeks back, Florida Atlantic moved the ball late with little resistance and finally struck the end zone with a long pass play with just 24 seconds left on the clock for the backdoor cover.
Middle Tennessee State (-1½) 34, Florida International 30 (55½): The Panthers appeared poised to snap their losing streak, leading 23-17 at home entering the fourth quarter. MTSU trimmed that lead in half early in the final frame and then took the lead for the first time since the first quarter with a touchdown run with less than seven minutes to go. FIU seemingly pulled out the win with a 30-yard pass play ending with exactly a minute on the clock to go back up by three, but the ensuing kickoff got pushed back due to a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. That allowed FIU to start in strong field position after a great 43-yard return and it didn’t take long for MTSU to get back on top. FIU actually made a late charge in the final seconds get down to the 31-yard line and on the final play, the Blue Raiders ended up just short of the go-ahead score while MTSU ended up just past the spread.
Texas A&M (-9½) 59, Louisiana Tech 57 (77): The Aggies seemed to be in control of this game that was originally scheduled for the opening weekend. At one point, Texas A&M led 27-0 and entering the fourth quarter the Aggies still led 46-30, although momentum was starting to shift. Louisiana Tech struck first in the fourth and then just 30 seconds later, the Bulldogs returned an interception for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed on the second score, leaving Texas A&M up by just two points. The Aggies took control with a nice 10-play touchdown drive to burn some clock and then forced a punt, getting the ball back with a nine-point lead, a margin right at or in between many of the common available numbers on this game. On that possession, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel broke free for a 72-yard touchdown run. With the scoring in this game, no lead was going to prove safe and Louisiana Tech hit a 62-yard touchdown pass just seconds later in game clock. Getting down to an eight-point margin, the underdog cover was secure for many, but the Bulldogs made sure while also spoiling middle attempts. They recovered the onside kick and quickly drove down for another score with 38 seconds left on the clock. The two-point conversion would fail however and there would be no overtime in a game that featured 116 points and nearly 1,300 yards of offense.