4th Quarter Covers - Week 6
October 8, 2013
By Joe Nelson
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Editor's Note: Joe Nelson burned the books last week with a 4-1 (80%) record, improving his winning numbers to 63% on the season. Purchase Joe's Week 7 Winners here on VegasInsider.com.
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 sixth weekend of college football to start out the month of October. 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.
UCLA (-6½) 34, Utah 27: The late game Thursday night featured a line that jumped around throughout the week, opening at -4 and climbing to -7 before settling at -6 or -6½. With a wild fourth quarter those small differences would matter in a big way. Early in the fourth quarter an interception return touchdown for Utah tied the game but the Utes had their own turnover problems with six interceptions in the game. UCLA added a field goal and after an interception deep in Utah territory they added a touchdown to go up by 10 with just over three minutes to go. Utah would add a field goal to cut the margin to seven and they got the onside kick with just under two minutes to go. The Utes were running short on time but they were down to the UCLA 23 when the sixth interception for Travis Wilson ended the game.
San Diego State (-6) 51, Nevada 44: The Aztecs appeared to be on cruise control for a comfortable home win Friday night with a 44-23 lead heading into the fourth quarter as a slight home favorite. Nevada put up 21 points in the fourth quarter while San Diego State had a missed field goal and failed going for it on a 4th down play as they could not seal the game with Nevada scoring the tying touchdown with less than two minutes to go. Those on the underdog had the improbable comeback hopes dashed in overtime however as San Diego State went first in the extra session, getting seven and Nevada came up empty.
Navy (-13½) 28, Air Force 10: Much of the week it was not clear this game would go on with the government shutdown creating some hurdles but the rivalry continued. Air Force led 10-7 at the half and trailed by just four well into the fourth quarter but Air Force had two turnovers and a failed 4th down effort in the fourth quarter with two of those lost possessions coming deep in Navy territory. The Midshipmen added two touchdowns taking advantage of the opportunities and good field position to earn the late cover.
Boston College (-12) 48, Army 27: The Army run defense appeared to be part of the government shutdown as well as Boston College running back Andre Williams had five rushing touchdowns but the Eagles led by just four halfway through the third quarter and were short of the spread up by 11 entering the fourth. Boston College added 10 points in the first few minutes of the final frame to pull away despite allowing Army to post 427 yards.
Miami, FL (-7) 45, Georgia Tech 30: The Hurricanes were a heavily bet team as a small home favorite last week but they led by just a single-point after Georgia Tech missed an extra point following a touchdown with just over 10 minutes to go in the game. Miami hit a big pass play on the next drive to bring the lead to eight, past the spread for the first time, and Georgia Tech was intercepted on fourth down in Miami territory on its next possession. Miami added two more touchdowns in the final minutes with the second score coming on defense to put the game away. Georgia Tech's final touchdown came with 10 seconds to go but this was a much closer game than the final numbers.
LSU (-8) 59, Mississippi State 26: Well into the third quarter LSU only led by two points in this game as the final score was very misleading. A field goal pushed the margin to five points entering the fourth but LSU scored four touchdowns in the final frame including two in the first minute of the quarter to create a deceptive final score.
Michigan (-19) 42, Minnesota 13: Michigan was short of the spread up 18 entering the fourth quarter and Minnesota trimmed the margin to 15 points with 10 minutes to go in the game. Michigan scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes, the second score coming on an interception return touchdown to create a misleading final score as Michigan scored 42 points on just 348 yards.
Rutgers (-4½) 55, SMU 52: Rutgers was in control early in this game and with two late third quarter scores the Knights led 35-14 entering the fourth. SMU scored early in the fourth but missed the extra point, leaving them still down two after two touchdowns in an improbable late comeback in the final four minutes. SMU made a spectacular conversion to send the game to overtime, leaving the spread result still in doubt. Both teams traded touchdowns in the first two overtimes with the defenses struggling but SMU was backed up going first in the third overtime, settling for a field goal. Rutgers punched in the touchdown to win by three but leaving the cover for the home underdog in a wild finish.
Troy (-3½) 34, South Alabama 33: Troy led 24-7 at one point and still sat up by 11 entering the fourth quarter. With just over five minutes to go a field goal put Troy up 27-19 but South Alabama made a great late comeback charge for the second straight week, getting two touchdowns in the final three minutes, the second score coming on a 65-yard play to put the Jaguars up by six with 48 seconds to go. The Trojans brilliantly executed the two-minute drill despite the limited time with four pass plays getting out of bounds to stop the clock and then connecting on a 20-yard touchdown pass to tie the game with seven seconds to go. The extra-point sealed the win but left Troy short of the small favorite spread. With a second on the clock South Alabama did get 50 yards on the final play but they were still well short of the end zone.
Stanford (-9½) 31, Washington 28:Stanford had a 10-point lead much of the game but could not pull away from a Washington squad that posted a huge yardage edge. Well into the fourth quarter Stanford still led by 10, narrowly past the spread as they intercepted a pass when Washington had 1st and goal with just over six minutes to go. Washington forced a three-and-out with great tackling and it did not take the Huskies long to find the end zone with a couple of big plays, cutting the lead to three with under three minutes to go. Washington again made a defensive stand on 3rd and one and the Huskies were in business with almost two minutes to go. The Huskies survived a replay challenge early in the drive but on 4th down a successful catch was surprisingly overturned on replay in another controversial moment for the Pac-12 officials to end the upset bid, though Washington covered as an underdog.
Northern Illinois (-9½) 38, Kent State 24: The Huskies trailed into the third quarter in this rematch of the 2012 MAC Championship game but they took a four-point lead into the final frame. With 10 points in the fourth Northern Illinois climbed past the road favorite spread with the key play being breaking up a fourth down play with Kent State inside the ten with less than five minutes to go.
Ohio State (-7) 40, Northwestern 30: The Wildcats led by 10 early in the third quarter, settling for three consecutive short field goals but the Buckeyes would come back with consecutive touchdowns, taking a four-point lead early in the fourth quarter. It did not take long for Northwestern to answer as they quickly moved down the field and eventually found the end zone, back up by three and looking in good shape for an underdog cover. Ohio State would take the lead back and down four Northwestern failed on a key fourth down, getting what many felt was a terrible spot on a close play. The Wildcats were able to get the ball back but with less than 30 seconds to go. Taking a sack on first down with no timeouts seemed to be the end but the Wildcats spiked to stop the clock for one last play, one that will live in infamy in the sportsbooks. Attempting a long shot play with multiple laterals, there was a fumble and Ohio State jumped on the ball in a scramble in the end zone to create a massive money shift with the spread result flipping.