4th Quarter Covers - Week 13
November 27, 2012
By Joe Nelson
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 games where the money changes hands late based on a few critical late plays, whether the outcome of the game is in doubt or not. Get the details of those close calls in this weekly column.
Toledo (-17½) 35, Akron 23 (62½): Toledo led just 21-17 entering the fourth quarter, but the Rockets did climb to a 35-17 advantage about halfway through the fourth quarter, just past the closing spread. Few would have been able to play Toledo at a line that low as most of the week the line was higher, climbing to 19 ½, but dropping in the hours before game time when it was confirmed the Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens and running back David Fluellen would not be playing. Akron made it a moot point by scoring a touchdown with less than four minutes to go.
Central Michigan (-11) 42, Massachusetts 21 (55½): After falling behind 14-0, Massachusetts scored 21 straight points to lead at home late in the third quarter, but Central Michigan would score twice in less than a minute to take a 28-21 lead into the fourth quarter as Massachusetts had back-to-back drives end in interceptions. Massachusetts put together a 10-play drive that ended in no points which allowed Central Michigan to get past the spread for the first time. With six minutes to go, the Chippewas added another touchdown to create a misleading final in game that was pretty even statistically.
Ball State (-8) 31, Miami, OH 24 (61): Ball State took control in the third quarter, getting out to a 31-14 lead after settling for a short field goal. Miami mounted a comeback attempt however, adding a touchdown with eight minutes to go, forcing a quick punt and then getting a field goal to climb back within the spread. Ball State was able to run out the clock, eventually punting as time expired.
Syracuse (-7½) 38, Temple 20 (58): Temple led this game 20-17 in the third quarter, but Syracuse would take a 24-20 lead heading into the fourth. Syracuse would add a rushing touchdown early in the fourth, while Temple threw back-to-back interceptions in the final quarter, the second of which was returned 31 yards for a touchdown to pad the final numbers for the Orange.
East Carolina (-6½) 65, Marshall 59 (71): East Carolina led by seven entering the fourth quarter, just past the closing number or even with the common spread of -7. There was a lot of scoring to go in this game as Marshall would eventually take a 52-45 lead with less than two minutes to go, but the Pirates forced overtime with a touchdown in the final seconds. Both teams scored touchdowns in the first overtime, but after a Marshall fumble, East Carolina punched in the winning score. As the Pirates went second in the second overtime, the critical extra-point was not needed.
West Virginia (-3) 31, Iowa State 24 (66½): This was a back-and-forth game as Iowa State took a 21-20 lead late in the third quarter. West Virginia was back on top with a field goal, but with less than seven minutes to go, the Cyclones kicked for three points to lead 24-23. Just seconds of game clock later, Tavon Austin took a pass 75 yards for a touchdown and the Mountaineers hit the two-point conversion to lead 31-24. Iowa State had a 10-play drive that went 60 yards, deep into West Virginia territory trying to the tie the game, but a fumble ended the threat and West Virginia was able to run out the game.
Washington State (+14) 31, Washington 28 (51): Washington led 28-10 into the fourth quarter, seemingly in control of the Apple Cup. Washington State's offense started to put it together in the fourth quarter by putting up back-to-back touchdown drives, including getting the two-point conversion on the second score. The Cougars then rallied to tie the game after forcing a quick punt, connecting for a field goal with less than two minutes to go. The Huskies went 58 yards on its final possession, but they missed a field goal that would have won the game and Washington State was able to win in overtime to complete the comeback. The total on this game also was eclipsed with the late scoring despite being on pace to hit 'under' most of the way.
Arizona State (+3) 41, Arizona 34 (72): Arizona State led early in this game, but Arizona had a huge third quarter, storming out to a 27-17 lead entering the fourth. The Sun Devils would score 24 consecutive points, taking advantage of a couple of turnovers to flip the game around, leading by 14 points with less than three minutes to go. The Wildcats added a late touchdown, but the Sun Devils were able to run out the clock. That final score was a critical touchdown for those involved on the total.
Ohio State (-4) 26, Michigan 21 (52): The Buckeyes opened as five-point favorites, but the line dropped before climbing back up and settling at -4. Ohio State trailed by one at halftime and after a short field goal, led 23-21 entering the fourth quarter. Michigan did not make much of a threat in the final frame, featuring two turnovers and Ohio State eventually added another short field goal to push the lead to five and complete the perfect season.
Michigan State (-7½) 26, Minnesota 10 (39½): Michigan State led just 13-7 at halftime in this game, despite big yardage edges as Minnesota's only score came on defense. Minnesota coach Jerry Kill had a seizure at halftime and left the game, certainly changing the atmosphere. The margin was still six points heading into the fourth quarter, but Michigan State added a field goal and then later would add a touchdown to pull away as the Spartans were dominant on defense, allowing only 96 net yards.
Tennessee (-14) 37, Kentucky 17 (61): Tennessee led just 20-17 late in the third quarter, but the Volunteers would add two touchdowns in a four-minute span to put the game right on the closing spread. After a long Kentucky drive resulted in no points, Tennessee drove down for a field goal to create the final margin with less than six minutes to go.
Penn State (-1) 24, Wisconsin 21 (44): The Badgers led early with a couple of big plays to take a 14-7 advantage into halftime. Penn State moved the ball well in the third quarter, but had to settle for two short field goals, entering the fourth quarter down, 14-13. The Lions had all the momentum as the defense continued to get stops and Penn State hit on a 41-yard pass play to take the lead for the first time early in the fourth quarter. Penn State went for two and connected to lead by seven. It looked like that lead would hold after a late Wisconsin drive ended in an interception. Wisconsin got another chance with four minutes to go and put together a long drive featuring several big conversions and eventually hit the end zone on a fourth down play with just seconds left. In overtime, Penn State had to settle for a field goal, but the defense stepped up to hold Wisconsin to a more difficult field goal try that was missed.
Purdue (-5½) 56, Indiana 35 (63): Purdue led by seven entering the fourth quarter, but Indiana tied the game early in the final frame. The Boilermakers hit a 73-yard pass on the next possession to take the lead back and Indiana had back-to-back interceptions to allow Purdue to add two more late touchdowns to create a misleading final in a game where both teams had big numbers.
Baylor (-3) 52, Texas Tech 45 (81): The Red Raiders led 31-28 entering the fourth quarter, but the final frame opened with a 55-yard interception return touchdown for Baylor. These teams traded scores the rest of the way and Baylor had to settle for a tying 22-yard field goal with less than three minutes to go. Texas Tech's attempt to win the game resulted in the opposite as an interception allowed Baylor to kick a long field goal as time expired, but the kick was missed. Baylor went first in overtime and scored a touchdown, but Texas Tech was backed up with a first down holding penalty and the Red Raiders were not able to convert a first down.
BYU (-27½) 50, New Mexico State 14 (48): BYU led by just 16 entering the fourth quarter, but the Cougars poured on three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to reach 50 points, covering the big spread.
Florida (+6½) 37, Florida State 26 (40½): The Seminoles dominated the third quarter to rally from an early deficit to take a 20-13 lead, but the fourth quarter was owned by the Gators. After a field goal trimmed the margin to four, Florida was set up after a fumble for a touchdown run and would later add two more touchdowns to put the game out of reach and also created a much higher-scoring game than most expected.
San Jose State (-3½) 52, Louisiana Tech 43 (76½): San Jose State led by just one entering the fourth quarter as a slight favorite, but that lead was extended early in the fourth quarter. Louisiana Tech has done a lot of fourth quarter damage this season, but the Bulldogs only managed one touchdown in the final frame as the Spartans pulled away.
Houston (-12½) 40, Tulane 17 (68): Houston led by just 10 entering the fourth quarter as Tulane had a bit of momentum, but Houston had three fourth quarter scores to put the game away.
Colorado State (-4) 24, New Mexico 20 (54½): Colorado State led by seven entering the fourth quarter, but there was a dramatic finish. After getting an early fourth quarter field goal, New Mexico connected on a 55-yard pass play to take the lead for the first time in the game with just over three minutes to go. Colorado State was able to take the lead and earn the cover for most with a quick-scoring drive that featured a big fourth down conversion, going up 24-20 with just over a minute to go. New Mexico drove down to the Colorado State 16, but they could not find the end zone.
Rice (PK) 33, UTEP 24 (56½): UTEP led 21-20 going into the final frame, but Rice connected on a touchdown to take the lead and then on the next possession, held the Miners to just a field goal in the final game for coach Mike Price. The ensuing kickoff was returned 97 yards for a touchdown as Rice put the game away.
Notre Dame (-4½) 22, USC 13 (45½): Notre Dame led by nine entering the fourth quarter, looking to seal up a 12-0 regular season campaign. USC would add a field goal in the fourth, but Notre Dame was able to do the same, settling for a 19-yard kick to get back to a two-score lead. USC hit a big play to Marqise Lee to get down to the two-yard line and then had back-to-back pass interference penalties to sit right on the doorstep with a new set of downs. Down two scores with time ticking away, Lane Kiffin displayed some horrendous clock management and play-calling with running plays that were stuffed and then opting to go for it on fourth down, rather that getting back within one score with an easy field goal. Notre Dame was able to burn most of the clock before punting as Irish backers held on despite that late scare, though USC did have another shot with three more plays in Notre Dame territory before the game ended.
Middle Tennessee State (-3) 24, Troy 21 (69½): This Sun Belt clash was led by Middle Tennessee State just 16-14 entering the fourth quarter, short of the three-point spread. Troy scored early in the fourth to take a five-point lead, but Middle Tennessee State would get a 77-yard interception return for a touchdown to take the lead with less than six minutes to go. The critical two-point conversion was good to force a push and Troy was stopped on downs as they tried to extend the game.
UL-Lafayette (-18½) 52, South Alabama 30 (56): Following a tight first half, the Ragin' Cajuns pulled away in the third quarter, but they were short of the spread with a 15-point lead entering the fourth. After trading scores, that margin held until just over three minutes to go when Louisiana-Lafayette put in another touchdown to cover late.
UL-Monroe (-3½) 23, Florida International 17 (61): The Warhawks led 17-10 throughout a scoreless fourth quarter until Florida International struck a 58-yard pass play with just 14 seconds left to go in the game, forcing overtime. In overtime, Florida International went first and missed a field goal, allowing UL-Monroe to win by six with a fortunate cover after hitting a touchdown pass.