4th Quarter Covers - Week 2
September 10, 2013
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 the second weekend of 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.
East Carolina (-19½) 31, Florida Atlantic 13: While the overall statistics in this Conference USA opener were almost even East Carolina pulled to a 31-6 lead and past the spread with a touchdown run late in the third quarter. The Pirates were deep in FAU territory early in the fourth quarter after a fumble but East Carolina gave the ball back with their own fumble. Late in the game Florida Atlantic missed a field goal but then with just over a minute left the Owls stole the cover with a touchdown as almost half of the total yardage for the Owls came on the final three drives.
Oklahoma State (-30) 56, Texas-San Antonio 35: Those laying the four touchdown plus spread with the Cowboys had to feel pretty comfortable with Oklahoma State up 42-7 entering the fourth quarter as the offense led by J.W. Walsh was incredibly efficient a week after greatly struggling against Mississippi State. Oklahoma State would add two more touchdowns in the fourth but the defense clearly let up as the Roadrunners hit a few big plays and wound up with four fourth quarter touchdowns to bring the final margin to just 21 points. Texas-San Antonio ended up with over 500 yards in the game though over half of that total came on the final four possessions late in the game.
Houston (-3½) 22, Temple 13: With over 500 yards of offense the Houston offense looked on track but the Cougars trailed at halftime and after settling for two short field goals in the third quarter Houston led just 15-13 heading into the final frame. Temple had a 78-yard drive late in the third quarter but they missed a field goal and the Owls could not take advantage of a fourth quarter opportunity near mid-field after a fumble. Temple’s last shot was ended with an interception deep in its own territory and Houston punched in a spread-winning touchdown with just over a minute to go in a game where the scoring did not match up with the yardage as Houston kicked four field goals of fewer than 25 yards.
Ohio (-3½) 27, North Texas 21: The spread on this game opened as high as -8 before dropping sharply throughout the week as most on the favored Bobcats wound up with a win. It did not look likely late in the game as the score was tied 21-21 well into the fourth quarter before Ohio settled for a go-ahead field goal with eight minutes to go, up three but short of the spread. North Texas was not able to move the ball on its final two possessions however and a 22-yard field goal for Ohio with just over a minute to go was enough to cash favorite tickets for most. Ohio had a big yardage edge but also had a defensive touchdown that changed the game early.
North Carolina (-20) 40, Middle Tennessee State 20: North Carolina led 23-0 at the half with two interceptions in UNC territory proving costly for Middle Tennessee State. The Blue Raiders made it a game in the second half however, ending up with over 400 yards and 26 first downs. After a defensive touchdown early in the fourth cut the lead to just 13 the underdog cover looked likely but North Carolina went up by 27 with just over two minutes to go after Middle Tennessee State was stopped on fourth down tries on consecutive possessions. With 25 seconds left the Blue Raiders found the end zone again to bring the final margin to just 20, and leaving a close call for everyone involved on the game. North Carolina was a 21½-point favorite early in the week before the line dipped as low as 18½ late in the week. On Saturday the line climbed back to close at -20 or 20½ so timing was everything for your result. Both teams missed two-point conversions in the game, plays that ended up proving to be pretty important in the spread result.
Ohio State (-29½) 42, San Diego State 7: While there was no scoring in the fourth quarter San Diego State certainly had opportunities to spoil the cover for the Buckeyes as the Aztecs had two fourth quarter turnovers deep in Ohio State territory with one touchdown being enough to flip the result. The first half also ended with San Diego State on the Ohio State two-yard line as this game was a definitely a bit closer than the score suggests, though Ohio State did play much of the way without star QB Braxton Miller and the emotional toll his loss may have had.
Duke (-4) 28, Memphis 14: While beating Memphis does not warrant great celebration this was a big win for a Duke program that has struggled on the road. The Blue Devils allowed Memphis to tie the game 14-14 early in the fourth quarter but Duke’s offense was sharp late, delivering back-to-back 75-yard touchdown drives late to seal the win and cover even without starting QB Anthony Boone.
Missouri (-14½) 38, Toledo 23: The yardage in this game was nearly dead even but Missouri pulled to a 24-9 lead after a 70-yard interception return early in the second half. That margin of 15 was just past the closing line on this game but earlier in the week Missouri was often favored by as many as 17. Toledo scored back-to-back touchdowns and opted to go for 1 on the second touchdown late in the third quarter to trail by one. Missouri scored on the next two possessions however to get back up by 15 as the entire fourth quarter was played on the Toledo side of the field and the Rockets left with another commendable but unsatisfying loss against a SEC team.
Penn State (-28½) 45, Eastern Michigan 7: The Eagles actually scored first in this game but Penn State was able to eventually pull away. The Lions led by just 10 at the half and by just 17 entering the fourth quarter as covering this huge spread looked doubtful most of the way. Three fourth quarter touchdowns provided enough of cushion however with a few big plays late. The Penn State defense certainly starred however with Eastern Michigan punting after no more than five plays in all seven second half possessions.
Minnesota (-16½) 44, New Mexico State 21: After getting three return touchdowns in the opener the Gophers had more big play magic with punt return and fumble return touchdowns to pull away at New Mexico State. Minnesota led by just 16 entering the fourth quarter but pulled up 44-14 before a late New Mexico State score in the final minute. Minnesota had a huge edge on the ground but still allowed 356 yards.
New Mexico (+7½) 42, UTEP 35: The Miners led 28-21 going into the fourth quarter, meaning a push for most as the line was at seven much of the week before a late rise. New Mexico put together consecutive scoring drives to turn the tables however. UTEP was able to force overtime with a 14-play drive to score with just over a minute to go. Going first the Lobos only took three plays to score in overtime and in a dramatic finish New Mexico stopped UTEP on 4th and one after an eight-play series to win the game.