4th Quarter Covers - Week 7
October 15, 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 seventh weekend of college football, a wild weekend with many high ranking teams falling. 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.
San Diego State (-3½) 27, Air Force 20: Air Force looked on track for a home win Thursday night as the Falcons took a 20-6 lead late in the third quarter with a 71-yard pass play. San Diego State took control in the fourth quarter with two scores in just over three minutes early in the frame but with a blocked extra-point Air Force still held a 20-19 lead. Air Force could not get a first down as they tried to run out the clock and San Diego State put together a 13-play 77-yard drive to win, scoring with less than two minutes to go. In the final minute Air Force was down to the San Diego State 37 yard line but they came up short on 4th down and the Aztecs won their third straight game after a 0-3 start and Air Force blew a halftime lead for the third straight game.
Virginia Tech (-7) 19, Pittsburgh 9: While the closing line was just -7, Virginia Tech was favored by -9 or -9½ much of the week making the fourth quarter pretty interesting for those involved. The Hokies were dominant defensively in the game but the offense settled for field goals in many instances including failing to get in the end zone with 1st and goal late in the game. That field goal pushed the lead to 19-3 and Pittsburgh would score quickly, finding the end zone with about two minutes to go in the game. Down 19-9, Pittsburgh opted to go for two but they did not convert, leaving the margin at 10 instead of 8 in a play that would have flipped the result for many.
Massachusetts (-6½) 17, Miami, OH 10: In this battle of 0-5 teams the hosting Minutemen held a 14-10 lead entering the fourth quarter, short of the late week numbers as an opening line of -3 climbed throughout the week. An interception set up Massachusetts in Miami territory and it eventually paid off with a short field goal to move past the spread but there was still plenty of time left in the game. On the next drive Miami moved inside the Massachusetts 25 but on 4th and 7 and with still almost eight minutes to go the Redhawks went for it and failed. Miami would get the ball back at midfield with almost seven minutes to go after a short Massachusetts punt but the first play of the drive led to another interception. The score stayed put after Massachusetts missed a field goal and Miami could not seriously threaten on its last possession as the Minutemen won for the first time this season and held on for the favorite cover.
Texas A&M (-7) 41, Mississippi 38: Texas A&M led 21-10 well into the third quarter but Mississippi added a touchdown to get within four before a wild fourth quarter that featured 41 points. Mississippi eventually led by seven with just over six minutes to go but the Aggies answered to tie the game with just over three minutes to go. The Texas A&M defense held firm forcing a 3-and-out and Texas A&M was able to line up a game winning field goal as time expired to win by three but falling short of the spread.
Wyoming (-12) 38, New Mexico 31: Wyoming stormed out to a 21-0 lead against New Mexico but the Lobos climbed back into the game with a few big runs to only trail by seven entering the fourth quarter and the game was tied early in the fourth. With the help of an interception Wyoming scored two touchdowns in the span of less than two minutes on the game clock to move past the spread but with just over a minute to go the Lobos found the end zone for the backdoor cover.
LSU (-8) 17, Florida 6: Defense ruled the way in this big SEC clash as it was still LSU leading 14-3 after a scoreless third quarter. The Gators would hit an early field goal in the final frame to get within eight and pulling even with the closing spread. LSU answered with a field goal however and the next Florida drive stalled after getting down to the LSU 20, beset with penalties and then turning the ball over on downs after back-to-back sacks. The Tigers were able to do enough to run out the final four minutes, aided by a personal foul penalty.
Oregon (-12) 45, Washington 24: Washington fell behind 21-7 by halftime against Oregon but in the third quarter the Huskies climbed back into the game, trailing by just seven heading into the fourth quarter. Washington would only get two possessions in the fourth quarter as Oregon was able to put together long time-consuming drives and penalties were costly for Washington. Oregon put in two touchdowns in the fourth and could have had another as the game ended with the Ducks inside the 10.
UCLA (-26½) 37, California 10: UCLA led by just seven late in the second quarter against California but the Bruins added another touchdown right before the half. With a pair of short field goals in the third quarter UCLA was still short of the spread leading 30-10 entering the fourth quarter. The Bruins were able to sneak by the number with a touchdown pass with less than five minutes to go. Early in the fourth quarter the Bears were stuffed on four downs inside the UCLA 3-yard line and California also came up empty on a late drive inside the UCLA 15 as they likely deserved to avoid a now 0-6 ATS start to the season.
San Jose State (+3) 34, Colorado State 27: It was apparent early that this game was going to be a back-and-forth battle that would be decided late as there were eventually five ties and seven lead changes. Colorado State led by seven at the half but the Spartans moved back in front by three early in the fourth quarter. San Jose State hit a 62-yard pass play with about five minutes to go and that lead held up.
Arkansas State (-27) 48, Idaho 24: The Red Wolves dominated early and had a 31-7 lead into the third quarter before Idaho scored 17 consecutive points to trim the deficit to just seven points early in the fourth quarter. Arkansas State ended the drought with a 98-yard kickoff return and with 10 points in the final seven minutes the Red Wolves equaled the -24 spread that was available at times during the week before climbing to -27 by game time.
Penn State (+1) 43, Michigan 40: Penn State led 21-10 at the half but Michigan was up 34-24 early in the fourth quarter. Penn State eventually got the ball back with just 50 seconds to go down seven and they were able to deliver, highlighted by a spectacular 36-yard pass play down the sideline. Overtime seemed inevitable but Michigan was able to get off a long field goal try after a strong return. The 52-yard attempt was on line but fell just short. Four overtimes made this Big Ten clash an instant classic as both teams missed field goals in the first frame with Michigan's game-winning attempt blocked. Both kickers hit in the second overtime on short attempts and neither team scored in the third overtime as Penn State fumbled on its first play and Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons missed from just 33 yards. Gibbons hit for three points with Michigan going first in the fourth overtime but Penn State was able to punch in the winning touchdown, aided by a pass interference penalty on the previous third down play and converting on a 4th down play earlier in the drive.
Houston (-8) 25, Memphis 15: Memphis led 15-10 late in the third quarter in this AAC clash but the Tigers were unable to hold a late lead for a big upset for a second straight week. Houston took the lead with a touchdown and 2-point conversion with less than two minutes to go in the third quarter and the Cougars added a rushing touchdown early in the fourth to move past the spread 25-15. Memphis reached midfield twice in the fourth quarter but they fumbled once and could not convert on fourth down in the final minute of the game.
UAB (-5½) 27, Florida International 24: The Blazers led by seven entering the fourth quarter after a once 21-7 lead tightened up. With less than three minutes to go Florida International tied the game but UAB put together a great final drive and eventually kicked the game winning field goal for the win but falling short of covering the spread.
Oregon State (-2½) 52, Washington State 24: Washington State led 24-17 with less than two minutes to go in the third quarter before Oregon State tied the game late in the third quarter. The Cougars botched a punt to give Oregon State the ball right back and they were up seven and past the spread early in the fourth quarter. The wheels fell off for Washington State in the fourth with five turnovers and Oregon State added three more touchdowns to create a bit of a deceptive final score in a game that was close much of the way.
Tulsa (-10) 34, UTEP 20: Tulsa led by 14 late in the third quarter but UTEP stayed in the game by connecting on a 71-pass play to get back within seven. Tulsa would move past the spread again early in the fourth quarter and the Tulsa defense saved the cover by getting an interception at the three yard line with less than two minutes to go.
UNLV (-7½) 39, Hawaii 37: Winless Hawaii has delivered some late game drama and last week's game at UNLV was no exception. UNLV led 36-17 well into the fourth quarter but Hawaii scored 21 points in less than seven minutes without the assistance of a turnover to take a one-point lead. UNLV was able to put together a long drive to get a chance to win and they were successful with a 44-yard field goal with a big face mask penalty on a 3rd down play being huge.