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4th Quarter Covers - Week 8

Editor's Note: Joe Nelson has produeced a 14-3 (82%) college football record in October. Don't miss out on his Week 9 Winners here on

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 a wild eighth weekend of college football featuring several highly ranked 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.
Central Florida (+14½) 38, Louisville 35: Late in the third quarter highly ranked Louisville led 28-7 in this game but Central Florida had the game tied just before heading into the final quarter with three touchdowns in the span of just over four minutes, capitalizing on a key fumble. That flurry made the underdog cover rather safe but the Knights paid moneyline tickets as they answered Louisville’s touchdown that took the lead with three minutes to go with a touchdown conversion with 23 seconds to go.
Duke (+2½) 35, Virginia 22: The Cavaliers led 22-0 late into the second quarter but Duke took a little positive momentum into halftime with a touchdown in the final minute. By the start of the fourth quarter Duke was within five, still short of the spread but back in the game. In the fourth quarter Duke took over with 18 more points to pull away as Virginia had negative yardage in half of its second half possessions.
Northern Illinois (-14½) 38, Central Michigan 17:
The Chippewas were on track for a second straight big upset in the MAC with a 14-7 lead after the first quarter and they were within 10 entering the fourth quarter, putting in a field goal 10 seconds into the final frame to cut the margin to just seven. Northern Illinois would move the margin to 14 with a touchdown with just six minutes to go in the game but covering the spread certainly seemed unlikely for the Huskies. Down 14 with about five minutes to go Central Michigan opted to punt and with a penalty the Huskies were backed up to the 11-yard line looking to run out the clock. The Huskies got the needed first downs to ice the game with the Central Michigan exhausting its timeouts but the Huskies still broke a 19-yard run for a touchdown to give the road favorite backers a very fortunate late cover.
Texas Tech (-3½) 37, West Virginia 27: The Mountaineers appeared on track to ruin another undefeated start for a Big XII rival with a 27-16 lead late in the third quarter. Texas Tech scored late in the third to get within four and then took the lead with nine minutes to go in the game to lead 30-27. Neither team did much on the next possessions and with just 61 seconds on the clock Texas Tech found the end zone again for the late cover for the road favorite.
Toledo (-9) 45, Navy 44: Navy dominated the yardage numbers early in this game but missed some opportunities with three separate first half possessions deep in Toledo territory resulting in -7 points as Toledo had a 68-yard fumble return touchdown and Navy also failed going for it on 4th down and missed a short field goal. Toledo broke a few long runs in the second half and eventually had a 31-21 lead early in the fourth quarter, slipping just past the home favorite spread. With five minutes to go Navy would answer and the Midshipmen were able to hold on defense, getting the ball back to kick a game tying field goal as time expired. In overtime both teams got seven in the first session but going first in the second session Navy would miss the extra-point kick which allowed Toledo to escape with the win after answering with a touchdown.
Michigan (-8½) 63, Indiana 47: Michigan and Indiana did their best to shed a reputation of boring football in the Big Ten with110 points scored and a 42-40 Michigan lead heading into the fourth quarter after Indiana failed on a 2-point conversion attempt late in the third quarter. Michigan went up by nine early in the fourth but Indiana answered less than two minutes later. With six minutes to go Michigan found the end zone again to go back up by nine, just past the late week spread but still leaving any Indiana score able to take the cover. The Hoosiers were deep in Michigan territory but the threat ended with an interception at the 6-yard line. Michigan added another touchdown breaking a long run late in the game to secure the win.
Buffalo (-19½) 32, Massachusetts 3: Not many likely watched this MAC game and glancing at the scoreboard suggests a blowout for Buffalo but the Bulls led just 18-3 going into the fourth quarter with nine of those points coming on defense with an interception return touchdown and a safety. Buffalo padded the statistics in the fourth quarter with two of its longest drives of the day resulting in touchdowns as Massachusetts came up empty with a failed 4th down try and a fumble on its last two possessions.
Akron (-6) 24, Miami, OH 17: The Zips squeaked by on the late week numbers that dropped from -7 or -7½ but they appeared to be headed for a greater margin of victory most of the way, adding a 19-yard field goal to lead 24-7 with about eight minutes to go in the game after failing to punch into the end zone after recovering a fumble at the 5-yard line. With five minutes to go Miami hit a rare big play with a 44-yard touchdown pass to get within 10 and then after getting the on-side kick the Redhawks nailed a 52-yard long field goal to put the closing margin at just seven points,
Oklahoma State (-6½) 24, TCU 10: Oklahoma State led 17-0 at the half and still led 17-3 going into the fourth quarter. With the spread at -7 most of the week TCU backers briefly had the game at a push as TCU finally found the end zone with just over seven minutes to go. It only took four plays for Oklahoma State to answer however with a strong kickoff return setting up a short field and the Cowboys were up 24-10 and TCU did not seriously threaten to score again.
Rice (-17) 45, New Mexico State 19: The Owls were in control most of the way but with a late third quarter touchdown New Mexico State was down just 16 and within the spread entering the final frame. Rice hit a 50-yard field goal early in the fourth and later added a touchdown for good measure as New Mexico State had a net total of three yards on its final three possessions.
Vanderbilt (+6½) 31, Georgia 27: The shorthanded Bulldogs looked in control with a 24-14 lead at halftime but momentum shifted as they had to settle for a 23-yard field goal deep into the third quarter, moving up by just 13. Vanderbilt finished a drive early in the fourth quarter with a touchdown and then forced a quick punt. On the next Vanderbilt possession they had to settle for a field goal, sitting down three with about five minutes to go in the game. Georgia was forced to punt with about three minutes to go in the game but they botched the snap which set up Vanderbilt at the 13-yard line and it only took one play for the Commodores to take the lead. Aaron Murray looked like he might be able to deliver a game winning drive but after a completion Brendan Douglas fumbled and Vanderbilt was able to run out most of the remaining clock.
Arizona (-3½) 35, Utah 24: This game featured some big momentum swings as a 20-7 Arizona lead at halftime was wiped away in the span of two minutes in the third quarter with two Utah touchdowns. Early in the fourth quarter Arizona got back on top 28-21 with a touchdown and a 2-point conversion but Utah would add a 44-yard field goal to put the margin at just four points halfway through the final quarter. After an Arizona fumble handed Utah great field position Utah kicker Andy Phillips missed his second kick of the day, a bit of a curious decision to kick down four with less than four minutes to go and it proved costly for the Utes. With the spread at -4 most of the week a push seemed likely as Arizona got the ball back and picked up two first downs to burn Utah’s remaining timeouts. Arizona needed one more first down to be able to take a knee but Ka’Deem Carey, who had earlier in the quarter fumbled took the 3rd down rush 44 yards for a touchdown. Utah made a bit of a threat to challenge the spread late with a drive into Arizona territory but they failed on a fourth down in the closing seconds.

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