4th Quarter Covers - Week 11
November 11, 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 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.
Ball State (-20) 44, Central Michigan 24: The spread on this game opened short of 20 and then climbed above 20, but the final margin fell right on the closing number. With a late third quarter touchdown, Ball State was well past the spread with a 41-10 lead, but Central Michigan scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to trim the margin to just 24 points. On their next possession, the Cardinals were down to the edge of field goal range before stalling, opting to go for it on fourth down and failing to add points. Central Michigan did nothing on its next drive and Ball State was in position to add more points, though they settled for a short field goal with less than two minutes to go in the game. Central Michigan took advantage of a short kickoff to start near midfield and it took just three plays for the Chippewas to score a touchdown that cut the margin to exactly 20 points, getting the backdoor cover for many on the underdog.
UL-Lafayette (-14) 41, Troy 36: The Ragin’ Cajuns had a big early lead, up 21-6 at the end of the first quarter, but Troy kept the game competitive from there, within two after a defensive touchdown with a minute to go in the first half before UL-Lafayette hit a big play to go up by nine at the break. UL-Lafayette would stretch the lead to 12 early in the fourth quarter and had they made a successful two-point conversion, they would have passed a spread that was just below 14 much of the week, but the conversion failed. Troy added a late touchdown to make it a mute point as the underdog covered in this key Sun Belt clash.
Louisville (-28) 31, Connecticut 10: Most that took the heavy road favorite paid a price less than 28 with the line at 27 or 27 ½ most of the week. It looked like the Cardinals might be able to get by the high number after a sluggish start as they got an interception return touchdown late in the third quarter and then added a field goal halfway through the fourth quarter to go up by 28. With 35 seconds left in the game, Connecticut found the end zone as the Huskies almost exclusively ran pass plays on its last possession with no signs of packing it in.
New Mexico (-3) 45, Air Force 37: Defense was not prominent in this Mountain West clash with at least two touchdowns in every quarter. New Mexico took an early lead, but Air Force had the game tied by early in the third quarter. With trading scores, Air Force blocked an extra-point to have a one-point edge later in third quarter, but New Mexico was able to make up that difference with a successful two-point conversion and led 35-28 entering the fourth quarter, sitting past the small home favorite spread. Air Force would answer, but they found themselves down one as one of its own kicks was blocked on the extra point try. New Mexico was able to put in another score to go up by eight, before an eight-minute scoring drought for both teams. On the doorstep to put the game away, New Mexico settled for a short field goal with just over two minutes to go. Air Force would move into scoring range with a touchdown and a two-point conversion capable of forcing a push, but the Falcons took the field goal instead needing two scores.
Iowa (-15 ½) 38, Purdue 14: While Iowa was in control with dominant yardage in this game, they only led by 14 into the fourth quarter. Back-to-back touchdowns finally put the game out of reach for the Hawkeyes as a late touchdown from Purdue was not enough.
Cincinnati (-6 ½) 28, SMU 25: The spread on this game dropped all week from an opening number of 10 and it was the underdog SMU that broke out to a 10-0 lead. Cincinnati scored the next 28 points, however, taking control with a 28-10 lead entering the fourth quarter. SMU scored just seconds into the final frame, but the margin was still 11 as the Bearcats were sitting just past the early week spread. SMU would score with just over three minutes to go in the game to take the cover, getting a successful two-point conversion to bring the final margin to just three points. Cincinnati easily could have added points in the fourth quarter as they fumbled inside the SMU 25-yard line early in the frame and the game ended with Cincinnati taking a knee around the SMU 5-yard line.
Duke (-10 ½) 38, NC State 20: Duke certainly caught some breaks to win this game and they even wound up covering a double-digit favorite spread with late scoring. The Blue Devils actually trailed with just over six minutes left in the game as NC State connected for an 80-yard pass play to lead 20-17. Duke would answer to take the lead 24-20 with just over three minutes to go and then incredibly the next two offensive plays for NC State both wound up resulting in DeVon Edwards interceptions returned for touchdowns for Duke with the picks coming from two different quarterbacks. Duke wound up scoring 21 points in just 26 seconds of game clock.
Indiana (-9 ½) 52, Illinois 35: Both of these teams posted over 600 yards of offense in an even statistical game and the Illini had the game tied early in the fourth quarter after a fumble recovered in the end zone. Indiana was able to get right back on track with a 75-yard touchdown run on first down. Down just seven, Illinois attempted a fake punt in their own territory on fourth and 10. The move backfired and Indiana was able to score two plays later to move past the spread with a 49-35 lead. Illinois failed on another fourth down on their next possession after moving just outside of field goal range and Indiana was able to add three points after a short kick to go up by 17. The spread stayed under 10 most of the week, but Illinois certainly threatened to get it at least that close, but they wound up with an interception in the end zone on the final threat.
Eastern Michigan (+2 ½) 35, Western Michigan 32: Despite a midweek coaching change for the Eagles, they were competitive in this game though it appeared Western Michigan had pulled away, leading by eight after a field goal with less than seven minutes to go. Eastern Michigan rallied to tie the game in the final minute with a touchdown pass and a successful pass for the two-point conversion and in overtime, Eastern Michigan scored the game-winning touchdown to best a Western Michigan field goal.
Wisconsin (-9) 27, BYU 17: The Badgers led 20-3 in the third quarter, but BYU got within 10 before the start of the fourth quarter. Wisconsin appeared to take control with a 27-10 lead after an early fourth quarter touchdown, but things would get interesting late. BYU scored to get back within 10 after converting on fourth and goal. After forcing Wisconsin to punt, the Cougars got the ball back with two minutes to go with any scoring enough to pick up a backdoor cover for the underdog. BYU marched into Wisconsin territory and the Cougars finally ran out of time after a couple of shots from inside the Wisconsin 30. Had there been a bit more time left on the clock or had they been a few yards closer, BYU might have considered a result changing field goal try.
Mississippi (-16 ½) 34, Arkansas 24: This was a competitive game as Arkansas was within three after a third quarter touchdown, but with two scores on long pass plays in the final five minutes of the third quarter, the Rebels were past the spread doubling up the Razorbacks with a 34-17 lead. Ole Miss would cross into Arkansas territory on its first fourth quarter drive, but they wound up punting to pin Arkansas back. The Razorbacks converted on a key fourth down play near midfield and put together an 87-yard scoring drive that lasted 13 plays, cutting the lead to just 10 points. Mississippi moved into scoring range, but stalled on the Arkansas 32 and eventually Bo Wallace was intercepted as Mississippi went for it on fourth down. Arkansas actually threatened to score again late, but a long field goal try missed and the Razorbacks had done enough to cover.
Colorado State (-8 ½) 38, Nevada 17: Nevada led this game 17-16 late in the third quarter, but with a 59-yard run the Rams went back on top, getting the two-point conversion to lead by seven. In the fourth quarter, Kapri Bibbs rushed for two more scores to cap off a 312 yard rushing day as the Rams pulled away in a game that probably deserved a bit closer of a final.
Texas (-6) 47, West Virginia 40: Texas pulled ahead 30-26 late in the third quarter, but these teams traded the lead back-and-forth in the fourth quarter. West Virginia led 40-37 late in the game with those on the underdog feeling good even as Texas drove deep into West Virginia territory as a touchdown would not change the spread result. The West Virginia defense held as Texas has three shots inside the 10, but the Longhorns had to settle for the field goal and overtime. Texas converted two third down plays to eventually score a touchdown going first in overtime and the extra point created a seven-point lead, even with the early week spread and past the road favorite numbers late in the week. West Virginia gained 20 yards on the first play in its turn, seemingly ready to send the game to another round, but the Texas defense held and on fourth down Texas got an interception in the end zone to seal the game, leaving a painful undeserved loss for those on the underdog.
North Texas (-26 ½) 41, UTEP 7: This spread climbed throughout the week as North Texas basically needed to win by four touchdowns by kickoff and the Mean Green had the 28-0 margin it needed into the third quarter. UTEP would get on the board late in the third quarter to briefly cut the margin back to just 21 points. North Texas added a touchdown and two field goals in the fourth quarter to get the job done.
Oklahoma State (-30 ½) 42, Kansas 6: Oklahoma State led 28-0 at halftime, but that was not quite enough as the Cowboys needed two fourth quarter touchdowns to pull away while Kansas was held to two short field goals. The yardage in this game was surprisingly close despite the lopsided score as Oklahoma State had 42 points on just 359 yards, helped by returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown.
Alabama (-14) 38, LSU 17: Alabama led 17-7 late in the second quarter, but LSU got a touchdown in the final minute before the half and the Tigers had the game tied early in the third quarter. The Crimson Tide would pull away with three unanswered touchdowns to win by 21 as LSU only had three more possessions that netted just 17 total yards.
San Diego State (+6 ½) 34, San Jose State 30: San Jose State led 23-12 entering the fourth quarter, but the Aztecs got eight points early in the fourth. San Jose State was able to answer as they led by 10 with less than 10 minutes to go in the game. San Diego State got back within the spread with a touchdown to cut the lead to three and a blocking penalty on the kickoff pinned the Spartans back. San Jose State had to punt from the end zone and a poor kick went just 25 yards to set up the Aztecs and they successfully converted on a big fourth down play rather than trying a tying field goal, scoring the touchdown on the next play. The defense for San Diego State then got an interception to seal the game.