4th Quarter Covers - Week 4
September 23, 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 fourth 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.
Clemson (-14) 26, N.C. State 14: Highly ranked Clemson had a battle Thursday night in a game that was rather even statistically. Late in the third quarter a touchdown allowed the Tigers to pull away, going up 20-7 and past the spread for the first time and the favorite cover seemed likely after Clemson scored early in the fourth to go up 26-7. They went for two after that touchdown and failed, a key play for those that had -14 on the game as NC State would add a late touchdown with less than four minutes to go to put the final margin at 12. After a failed onside kick Clemson had the ball back in great field position and eventually moved into field goal range but the Tigers opted to go for it on fourth down rather than kicking a spread-saving field goal.
Fresno State (-4) 41, Boise State 40: Fresno State pulled away in the third quarter of this huge Mountain West clash with a 34-19 lead with just a minute left in the quarter. Boise State quickly scored after a great kick return to get within eight entering the fourth and then went on to take a 40-34 lead in the fourth quarter with back-to-back touchdown drives, the second score coming after a Fresno State fumble. The Bulldogs answered to take the lead with just over two minutes to go after a 13-play drive and while Boise State got to mid-field on the next drive, they came up short, though still earning the underdog cover.
Florida (-15½) 31, Tennessee 17: The Gators lost quarterback Jeff Driskel but still managed to pull away from the Volunteers, leading 24-10 heading into the fourth quarter and then up 31-10 early in the fourth. Tennessee added a touchdown pass to trim the margin back to 14 and the underdog held on as Florida missed a field goal and opted for a short punt in two possessions in Tennessee territory in the final 10 minutes.
Pittsburgh (-4½) 58, Duke 55: Pittsburgh seemed to be in command with a 51-28 lead late in the third quarter but Duke hit a 75-yard pass play late in the third and then was within 10 early in the fourth quarter. Duke had the ball back but a 37-yard interception return touchdown seemingly wrapped things up for Pittsburgh, up 17 with just over eight minutes to go. Duke was able to score another touchdown to get back within 10 and then they were able to get the ball back in good field position after a fumbled snap on a punt attempt for Pittsburgh. It took Duke just three plays to score again, getting within three points with about four minutes to go in the game. Duke failed on the onside kick and Pittsburgh was able to get a first down to run out the clock but the Blue Devils earned an unlikely underdog cover in a wild ACC game.
Penn State (-23½) 34, Kent State 0: Penn State dominated statistically in this matchup but they led just 21-0 entering the fourth quarter. A field goal early in the fourth put the Lions past the spread and Penn State went on to add 10 more points late to pad the scoreboard. 216 yards for Penn State came on the final four possessions with the result in hand as the yardage production was a bit misleading but the Penn State defense was impressive, forcing 10 punts and not allowing a drive longer than 42 yards.
Georgia Tech (-7) 28, North Carolina 20: North Carolina led 20-7 at one point early in the game but Georgia Tech slowly took over the game, eventually leading 21-20 entering the fourth quarter and moving by the home favorite spread with an early fourth quarter score 28-20. The Tar Heels threatened to answer but a drive deep into Yellow Jacket territory ended in an interception.
Notre Dame (-4) 17, Michigan State 13: This game was tied 10-10 through three quarters with a complete dearth of offense but Notre Dame was able to punch in a touchdown very early in the final frame, getting past the spread that opened at -7 and came down throughout the week, eventually closing as low as -4. Most on the underdog Spartans still wound up winning however as Michigan State hit a 42-yard field goal with less than 11 minutes to go in the game. There were seven combined possessions after that field goal be neither team even remotely threatened to add points.
Stanford (-7) 42, Arizona State 28: Stanford was in complete control in this huge Pac-12 contest, leading 39-7 entering the fourth quarter. With some starters out of the game and clearly letting off the gas Arizona State scored three consecutive touchdowns in the fourth to cut the margin to just 11 points and certainly making Cardinal backers a bit nervous. Stanford was able to burn most of the rest of the clock while adding a late field goal and with little time on the clock Arizona State’s final threat ended with an interception.
Louisiana-Lafayette (-7½) 35, Akron 30: This game had some big swings and Akron took back the lead early in the fourth quarter to lead 24-21. With two touchdowns in less than two minutes of game clock the Ragin’ Cajuns appeared on the way to a win and a cover leading by 11 but Akron scored on a 28-yard play with less than 30 seconds to go to flip the ATS result.
Middle Tennessee State (-3) 42, Florida Atlantic 35: This pair of new Conference USA entrants traded scores the entire game with the game tied 21-21 entering the fourth quarter and with matching touchdowns in the final two minutes overtime was forced at 35-35. The Owls scored to force overtime with just three seconds left on 4th down but in overtime the Owls were not able to answer a quick Blue Raiders touchdown, failing on fourth down from the 13-yard line, giving the road favorite a fortunate overtime cover.
Toledo (-14) 38, Central Michigan 17: The Rockets only led by seven entering the fourth quarter as a two touchdown road favorite. Toledo matched the spread early in the fourth and with five minute to go the Rockets put in another score to get past the spread. Turnovers helped the Rockets greatly in a game that was closer than the final score indicated.
LSU (-17½) 35, Auburn 21: LSU dominated the first half, leading 21-0 in the big SEC clash with Auburn but the defense came out lacking intensity in the second half and Auburn made it a game. Entering the fourth quarter the lead was short of the spread at 28-14 but LSU went back up by 21 early in the final frame. With about six minutes to go Auburn took the cover back with an 88-yard touchdown drive and despite LSU starting in Auburn territory on the next drive a fumble cost LSU the opportunity for more points.