4th Quarter Covers - Week 11
November 13, 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.
Florida State (-13) 28, Virginia Tech 22 (49½): The total on this Thursday ESPN game dropped from 50½ to 49½ and it landed right in between those two numbers. Florida State went up 20-10 in the third quarter, but with Virginia Tech closing to 20-17 entering the fourth, the underdog cover looked safe. A safety made it a one-point game and then the Hokies took a 22-20 lead with just over two minutes to go in the game. Florida State had one final opportunity and they converted a big fourth down a on a drive that ultimately set up a 39-yard pass play to Rashad Greene with just 40 seconds left on the clock. That score spoiled the attractive moneyline pricing on Virginia Tech and the subsequent successful two-point conversion spoiled or won the total for many.
Clemson (-32) 45, Maryland 10 (55½): The Terrapins notched a field goal late in the third quarter that appeared to be a key play with regards to the spread, but Clemson would add an early fourth quarter touchdown to move up by 35, also putting the total just a half point shy of the common number of 55½. The 'under' and the slim cover for the heavy favorite both held as a late 60-yard Maryland drive resulted in no points.
Rutgers (-17½) 28, Army 7 (53½): Those on Army as a big underdog had to feel good with this game tied several minutes into the fourth quarter and the Black Knights owning a massive yardage edge. Rutgers took the lead for the first time in the game with less than nine minutes to go and then Army fumbled near its own goal line, allowing Rutgers to go up 21-7 with minimal effort. Down two touchdowns, Army went into Rutgers territory, but failed on fourth down handing the ball back to the Scarlet Knights, while three failed runs later a punt gave Army the ball back with about three minutes to go. Army posted a productive drive and at the Rutgers 24-yard line a fumble was picked up by Duron Harmon and taken 73 yards with less than a minute left on the clock, giving the Scarlet Knights a miracle cover.
Virginia (-1½) 41, Miami, FL 40 (54): It was clear the 'over' was going to work out early on this ACC clash with 35 points scored in the first quarter as these teams traded scores. Virginia led by four at the half, but Miami had the lead 31-28 entering the fourth. After a safety, Miami led 40-35 with just four minutes to go, but Virginia put together a game-winning drive, finding the end zone with just six seconds left on the clock to lead by one. Miami was the favorite early in the week and there was a wide range of numbers available on this game so the two-point conversion attempt was certainly a critical play and the Cavaliers did not get the conversion, leaving a one-point margin and a missed cover for many on Virginia late in the week.
Vanderbilt (+3) 27, Mississippi 26 (50½): Ole Miss seeking bowl eligibility seemed to be in complete control, but they had to settle for several short field goals early in the game. Mississippi still led 23-6 into the second half, but Vanderbilt got a spark with a 52-yard pass play for a touchdown. By the start of the fourth quarter, Mississippi's lead was cut to just three points. Another short field goal gave the Rebels a six-point lead, but that allowed Vanderbilt to steal the win and cover in the final minute with a touchdown drive. Ole Miss dominated the statistics in the game, as the Rebels now face an uphill battle to make the postseason.
BYU (-40) 52, Idaho 13 (51): BYU was only up by 32 entering the fourth quarter, but the Cougars pushed past this huge spread with 10 points in the final frame, the final field goal coming with less than two minutes to go to create a 42-point margin. As time expired, Idaho opted to kick a 35-yard field goal to spoil the late week spreads that grew from an opening line of -37.
Nebraska (-9) 32, Penn State 23 (51): The Nittany Lions led 20-6 at the half as a hefty underdog, but by the start of the fourth quarter, the Lions were only up by three points. Nebraska took the lead for the very first time in the game with less than 11 minutes to go in the game, leading 27-23. Penn State quickly drove down the field and Matt Lehman extended the ball into the end zone for a go-ahead touchdown, but the ball was knocked out of his hands by a collision with a defender and it was ruled a touchback after Nebraska recovered. On replay, Lehman very clearly broke the plane of the end zone before losing the ball, but incredibly the officials did not change the ruling and offered no explanation. Penn State's defense stood tall however, forcing a quick punt, as the Lions got pinned deep and intentional grounding in the end zone put Nebraska up by six, still short of the favorite spread. Penn State got another chance in the final minutes, but had to go for it on fourth down in its own territory and they came up empty. Nebraska had just over two minutes to burn and Penn State had no timeouts but they opted to kick a short field goal with 27 seconds left after being a yard short of what would have been a game-sealing first down. The margin of nine gave Nebraska backers another lucky cover or a push for many. The late safety and field goal also pushed the total just 'over'.
Oregon (-32½) 59, California 17 (68): The Ducks have not always kept the foot on the gas in the fourth quarter this season, but Oregon went from a seven-point lead in the 3rd quarter to a 35-point lead with almost 12 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. The Ducks added another late touchdown with the reserves in late as this game was closer than the final much of the way, though Oregon was in command.
Oklahoma State (-10½) 55, West Virginia 34 (73½): The Cowboys led by four late in the third quarter, but put together back-to-back touchdowns early in the fourth quarter to pull away and cover a spread that grew substantially throughout the week. West Virginia had more yards in the game, but the Mountaineers were shutout in the 4th quarter, getting stopped on downs twice.
Missouri (+3½) 51, Tennessee 48 (61): The Volunteers led by 14 late in the third quarter, but UT again folded on defense, allowing Missouri to send the game to overtime with a touchdown with less than a minute to go in the game. These teams went six-for-six in getting touchdowns in the first three overtimes, but the two-point conversions both failed in the third overtime as the Volunteers could have won with a successful conversion. In the fourth overtime, Tennessee went for it on fourth and three rather than kicking a field goal and the failure allowed Missouri to conservatively run the ball and set up the winning kick.
UCLA (-16½) 44, Washington State 36 (62): UCLA took advantage of big plays with a blocked field goal touchdown, a safety, and a fumble return touchdown to lead 37-7 at the half. The Bruins were conservative in the second half and Washington State climbed back into the spread, turning a 30-point lead late in the third quarter into an eight-point final margin as the Cougars scored the final three touchdowns in the game.
Arizona (-29) 56, Colorado 31 (66): This game was close in the first half, but Arizona pulled away in the third quarter, leading 49-17 and past the huge spread entering the fourth quarter. Colorado scored early in the fourth and then connected on a 71-yard pass play to trim the margin to 18 points and while Arizona added another touchdown late it was not enough to get back over the spread.
Stanford (-4) 27, Oregon State 23 (44½): The Beavers trailed 14-0 early in this big Pac-12 North game but OSU stormed back taking a 23-14 lead late in the third quarter. Stanford hit a big play just as the third quarter ended to get within two and Oregon State wasted its opportunities in the fourth quarter, including a critical fumble that set Stanford up for the short field drive that produced the winning touchdown. The Cardinal did fail on the two-point conversion to keep the margin at four points, netting a win or a push for Oregon State backers, though a few places the line did dip to -3½ very late Saturday.