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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 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.
Ohio (-16) 45, Eastern Michigan 14 (58½): Ohio bounced back with a convincing win Thursday night. The Bobcats were just past the spread late in the 3rd quarter after a 79-yard pass play put Ohio up 31-14. Eastern Michigan had its longest drive of the day early in the 4th quarter but an interception prevented any points on the board. Those on the ‘over’ likely felt doomed at that point but Ohio wound up scoring two touchdowns in the final six minutes to just barely eclipse the total and create a bit more lopsided of a score than this game likely deserved.
Army (+7) 41, Air Force 21 (62½): While Army had this game in hand, taking advantage of turnovers to build a 35-7 lead entering the 4th quarter, those involved on the total had a very dramatic finish. This total closed at 62½ but all week the number sat below 62. Air Force put together a late rally with two 4th quarter touchdowns to put the score at 35-21 with just a few minutes to go. Army had the ball into Air Force territory but up 14 they opted to go for it on 4th down rather than attempt a long field goal. Air Force got the stop but went backwards on offense with a penalty and then a fumble ended up in the end zone for an Army touchdown, putting the scoring at 62 total points. The extra-point was then blocked leaving the scoring at 62, just above the early week figures but below the closing number. More drama came late as the final Air Force drive came up with 1st and goal at the Army 3 but an interception ended the game.
East Carolina (+3) 48, Houston 28 (68½): A lot of offense was expected in this Conference USA clash but there was modest scoring early as East Carolina led 31-14 entering the 4th quarter, on pace to stay ‘under’ the very high total. With three minutes to go there was just 55 combined points and the game looked out of hand so the chances of a lot of late scoring seemed low. East Carolina broke a big run however to move the score to 41-21 with less than three minutes to go and on Houston’s possession an interception was returned for a touchdown to push the total ‘over’ the closing number but still short of some early week figures that hit 70. With two seconds left Houston connected for a garbage time touchdown to make the ‘over’ the clear winner as these teams posted 314th quarter points.
Indiana (-2) 24, Iowa 21 (54½): Indiana led by three entering the 4th quarter but Iowa would take the lead after an 88-yard drive. After a short kickoff the Hoosiers started in great field position on the next drive and only needed four plays to get the lead back, up by three and just past the short favorite spread. Against a suspect Indiana defense Iowa had three possessions in the final ten minutes of the game but came up empty even after a huge momentum play getting an Indiana fumble in the red zone about halfway through the 4th quarter.
Georgia Tech (-7½) 33, Maryland 13 (45): While Georgia Tech turned this game into a laugher with a 27-0 lead at one point, those on the total suffered a result changing play in the final seconds. Georgia Tech was up 33-7 with the ‘under’ in good position after the Yellow Jackets got an interception at their own 10 yard line to thwart a scoring chance for the Terrapins with just over four minutes to go. Just trying to run the clock out and having success with two first downs already on the drive, Georgia Tech gave the ball up with a fumble near mid-field with less than a minute to go. Maryland hit a few quick plays and then with one final play a touchdown was hit with a 23-yard pass play as time expired to push the total ‘over’. The total on this game dropped to 45 but it was 46 or 46½ earlier in the week and the extra-point on the final Maryland score was not attempted for a costly final play for those on the ‘over’ especially considering that an extra-point was blocked on Georgia Tech’s 4th quarter touchdown. Arkansas (-9) 19, Tulsa 15 (63): Tulsa actually led 15-13 entering the 4th quarter but Arkansas had chances to pull away. The Razorbacks grabbed the lead with a touchdown with ten minutes to go to go up by four after a missed two-point conversion. Arkansas later missed a short field goal and then with Tulsa in desperation mode the Razorbacks had two more possessions in the red zone but no points were added to the score leaving the underdog with the cover.
Nebraska (+1) 28, Michigan State 24 (44): Michigan State seemingly was in control of this game, going up 24-14 early in the 4th quarter and then getting an interception in a game where points were at a premium. Nebraska was able to get back within three with a touchdown drive but Michigan State got a big stop on downs on the next Nebraska drive. Trying to run out the clock, Michigan State was stopped just on the edge of field goal range sitting with a 3-point lead and the Spartans punted on 4th and short. Nebraska was left with just over a minute to go 80 yards for the win and they were able to get a couple of big plays to get within range for a tying field goal. With less than 30 seconds left on the clock Nebraska was bailed out on a 3rd and long incompletion with a highly questionable pass interference call that would set the Huskers up with 1st and goal from the five and Nebraska was able to steal the victory in game that deserved overtime.
TCU (+4) 39, West Virginia 38 (69): West Virginia led 24-14 at one point but held just a three-point lead entering the 4th quarter. TCU would tie the game but Tavon Austin returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown with just over three minutes to go to five the Mountaineers the lead past the spread. With just over a minute to go Josh Boyce took a pass 94 yards for the tying score to force overtime but not before Geno Smith gave West Virginia a chance by getting his team into a long field goal attempt in the closing seconds. Two high scoring teams failed in the first overtime as TCU missed a 37-yard field goal and the Frogs would block West Virginia’s 36-yard attempt. West Virginia only needed one play for a touchdown in the second overtime but then TCU did the same thing with a 25-yard pass play. TCU gambled going for two and succeeded for the one-point win.
Ohio State (-25½) 52, Illinois 22 (51): The Buckeyes took a 24-point lead into the 4th quarter, just shy of the big favorite spread. Ohio State got past the number early in the final frame but Illinois got a 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown to cut back below the spread. With just over a minute to go Ohio State punched in another touchdown, getting the cover that was probably deserved given the nearly 400 yard edge in the box score.
Notre Dame (-16½) 29, Pittsburgh 26 (47½): It was clear early on that the Irish were going to fall into the flat spot on the schedule with several miscues that led Pittsburgh to take a 20-6 lead into the 4th quarter, all but assuring an underdog cover. What looked like a game destined to play ‘under’ however ended up in overtime. A quick finish to the extra time could have kept the game ‘under’ but with both teams hitting field goals in the first overtime the ‘over’ was sealed with Notre Dame eventually winning in the third session.
San Jose State (-21½) 42, Idaho 13 (54): San Jose State had a slow start as a big favorite but the Spartans poured it on late, turning a one-point lead into 15-point lead by the start of the 4th quarter. San Jose State got past the spread early in the 4th and then added an interception return touchdown for good measure.
South Florida (-7) 13, Connecticut 6 (46½): This defensive grind was led 7-6 by South Florida well into the 4th quarter and South Florida saved a push for those that played on them late with a 50-yard field goal with four minutes to go. Connecticut was deep in South Florida territory twice late in the 4th quarter but both drives ended in interceptions. Most on Connecticut still got the cover as the line was 8 or 8½ most of the week.
Western Michigan (-1½) 42, Central Michigan 31 (61): The slight home underdog and the ‘under’ looked promising heading into the 4th quarter with Central Michigan leading 23-14. Both results would shift however as Western Michigan scored four touchdowns in the final frame, pulling ahead with less than three minutes to go in a game that featured over 1,000 yards of offense.
Buffalo (-3) 27, Miami, OH 24 (54): Buffalo was past the home favorite spread with a 17-10 lead heading into the 4th quarter but the game was quickly tied up. Buffalo went back up by seven with just over five minutes to go but overtime seemed likely with Miami tying the game with only 23 seconds left on the clock. Miami followed up that dramatic score with a kickoff that was returned for 47 yards. Buffalo had time for one play to move a little closer into field goal range and Patrick Clarke hit the 47-yard kick for the win, leaving a push for most on the game however.
Cincinnati (-5½) 35, Syracuse 24 (56½): Syracuse led at halftime and late into the 3rd quarter but the Bearcats took a four-point lead into the final frame, just short of the home favorite spread. Less than a minute into the 4th Cincinnati pushed that lead to 11 points and then Syracuse missed a field goal on its next possession. The Orange had a golden opportunity to steal the cover late sitting inside the 10-yard line but they were stopped on downs and Cincinnati was able to run out the clock.
Utah (-11) 49, Washington State 6 (49): Washington State not scoring boded well for the ‘under’ but a kickoff return touchdown for Utah to open the 2nd half was a bad sign. There was no scoring in the rest of the 3rd quarter however and Utah led 42-0 late in the game before matching the total with a touchdown run with less than three minutes to go. On the final play of the game Washington spoiled the shutout and scored a win for the ‘over’ by connecting for a short touchdown pass.
UAB (+3½) 27, Southern Miss 19 (63½): Looking for its first win of the season Southern Miss had a 16-0 halftime lead but that margin eroded to just five points by the start of the 4th quarter. UAB added two field goals early in the 4th to grab the lead for the first time in the game and then added a late touchdown to seal the minor upset.
Michigan (-9) 35, Minnesota 13 (45½): After a slow start Michigan pulled ahead 21-7 entering the 4th quarter and the ‘under’ looked relatively safe. There were 20 points in the final frame however with Michigan’s touchdown with three minutes to go pushing the game ‘over’ the number.
Kansas State (-8) 44, Oklahoma State 30 (68½): In a heavily bet game Kansas State pulled away with 41-20 lead early into the 4th quarter. Colin Klein had been injured in the 3rd quarter however and the Wildcats were starting to struggle on offense. Oklahoma State was down 14 after a field goal and Kansas State missed an opportunity with a short missed field goal of its own, leaving the door open for the backdoor cover. Oklahoma State moved across midfield on its final possession but an interception wrapped up the win and cover for the Wildcats.
Rice (-7) 49, Tulane 47 (63½): Rice led 28-10 at halftime but an interception return for the Green Wave started the 2nd half scoring. Tulane would have a 38-35 lead by the start of the 4th quarter. Rice took the lead back and then after Tulane settled for a field goal Rice pushed the lead back to eight points just ahead of this spread that rose significantly throughout the week. Tulane spoiled it with 33-yard pass play for a touchdown with less than a minute to go and the two-point conversion failed to end any possible overtime drama.
UCLA (-3) 66, Arizona 10 (71½): While the outcome in this game was decided early as UCLA had a 28-0 lead by early in the 2nd quarter, the total was still in play most of the game. There were 62 combined points entering the 4th quarter, certainly on pace for the ‘over’ but the lopsided margin was promising for the ‘under’ to hold on. UCLA ran in another score with reserves in the game early in the final frame and then the ‘over’ came through with another Bruins touchdown with less than six minutes to go as Arizona took one of its worst defeats ever.