4th Quarter Covers - Week 13
November 26, 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.
Northern Illinois (PK) 35, Toledo 17: With a lot at stake, Northern Illinois saw its perfect season in jeopardy with a 17-14 deficit late in the third quarter. The Huskies would score late in the third with a 31-yard run from Jordan Lynch and Northern Illinois would put together two long scoring drives in the fourth quarter to pull away, continuing a perfect season and a strong ATS campaign.
UCF (-19 ½) 41, Rutgers 17: UCF stormed out to a 21-0 lead in this Thursday night game, but with a recovered blocked punt for a touchdown, Rutgers was within 14 just before halftime. Scoring slowed in the second half as UCF only added a field goal in the third quarter, comfortably up by 17 entering the fourth quarter, but just short of the spread. The Knights pulled away in the fourth quarter, eventually going ahead 41-14 to lead by 27 points. It got a little dangerous late as Rutgers moved into scoring range, but they settled for a field goal as UCF was able to leave with the win and cover.
Navy (+1 ½) 58, San Jose State 52: Early in the fourth quarter in this closely-lined game, San Jose State pulled ahead 30-24 with a touchdown and a successful two-point conversion. Navy would answer, however, to lead by one with about seven minutes to go. With less than three minutes to go, Navy broke a 20-yard run just after converting on a key fourth down play to lead by eight, seemingly putting the game away. San Jose State eventually had one play from the Navy two-yard line down eight points; they converted and also hit on the two-point conversion to send the game to overtime. In the first two overtime sessions, it took a total of 12 plays for both teams to score two touchdowns each as the defenses were worn down. It took a little more work including a fourth down conversion for San Jose State going first in the third overtime, but the Spartans were down to the Navy three-yard line. A game-changing interception occurred and Navy was in business with any score winning the game. A deflated Spartans team offered little resistance as Navy scored a touchdown on the first play to win the game outright.
Nebraska (+1) 23, Penn State 20: Nebraska led 17-13 entering the fourth quarter, but Penn State hit on a 46-yard pass play to take the lead just seconds into the fourth. In the final five minutes, Nebraska wound up settling for a short tying field goal after a touchdown was called back with a penalty. Penn State missed a 37-yard kick going first in overtime and after Nebraska connected on a 37-yard field goal for the win, they had to do it again with a false start penalty called. Pat Smith delivered again as Nebraska escaped on a cold and windy Saturday game.
Illinois (-6) 20, Purdue 16: Despite a long losing streak in Big Ten games, Illinois was a road favorite at Purdue and this was a tie game through three quarters. Illinois added two short field goals in the fourth quarter to get the margin to six points, even with the closing spread, Purdue was able to get into Illinois territory on its final drive, but an interception ended the threat as Illinois took over at its own 19 with 59 seconds to go. Purdue had two timeouts left so Illinois was faced with a third down play and still 53 seconds left on the clock after taking a knee twice. After being stopped on a third down run, Illinois called timeout just before the play clock expired, leaving eight seconds left in the game but pinned back for fourth down. Rather than risk a punt block or a turnover, the Illini scrambled backwards and burned the rest of the clock before taking a safety, sealing the win for Illinois but giving Purdue the late cover.
Pittsburgh (PK) 17, Syracuse 16: The Panthers opened as a one-point favorite and the line did briefly climb to -1 ½, but this game was a pick-em for most and as it played out that proved an accurate assessment. Pittsburgh took a 17-16 lead with a touchdown late in the third quarter and while there were no points added in the fourth, Syracuse certainly had opportunities. The Orange would miss a field goal early in the fourth and had two other drives crossing into Pittsburgh territory, but they didn’t get it done as the Panthers held on.
Connecticut (+6 ½) 28, Temple 21: The Owls had winless Connecticut down 21-0 at the half, but the Huskies showed great resolve and they climbed back into the game. Late in the third quarter, Connecticut added its second touchdown to get within one score after Temple had failed going for it on fourth down on the edge of field goal range in tough kicking conditions. After forcing a Temple punt early in the fourth quarter, Connecticut had a 14-play drive that finally found the end zone after a Temple pass interference penalty. The game was tied with less than seven minutes to go and on third down just past midfield, Temple quarterback P.J. Walker was intercepted with the pick returned for a touchdown to give the Huskies their first lead. Temple would threaten on the next drive, but a key sack put the Owls in a very tough situation and Connecticut avoided a winless campaign.
Ohio State (-33 ½) 42, Indiana 14: The highly-ranked Buckeyes had no trouble pulling away for a dominant win in the final game in Columbus, taking a 42-0 lead early in the fourth quarter. Indiana missed some scoring chances early and actually only lost the yardage battle by 29 yards. Against a relaxed defense, Indiana put in two late touchdowns for a backdoor cover. The second score came with just over two minutes to go on a third and long play.
Florida State (-59) 80, Idaho 14: To cover an over eight-touchdown spread you have to use all four quarters and the Seminoles did just that. The Vandals had a touchdown in the second quarter which looked like it might be enough for the underdog, but with a 52-point lead heading into the fourth, Florida State added three more touchdowns including the last of which coming on a 78-yard interception return touchdown. Idaho did score another touchdown in the final minute, but it was not enough as laying nearly 60 points was the winning move.
Marshall (-32 ½) 48, Florida International 10: Marshall has not had great road performances this season and trailing 3-0 at the end of the first quarter was certainly a concern for those laying nearly five touchdowns with the Herd. Marshall would find its rhythm offensively, but they led by just 31 entering the fourth quarter and Florida International would score a touchdown with 10 minutes to go, making the favorite cover even more unlikely. The Herd broke a 45-yard run to get back to a 31-point margin and then with back-ups in the game, Marshall connected on a surprising pass play for a 40-yard touchdown to steal the cover with just two minutes to go.
Boston College (-1) 29, Maryland 26: This ACC clash featured one of the wildest fourth quarters of the season as Maryland added a rushing touchdown early in the fourth to put the Terrapins up by 11. Heisman candidate Andre Williams kept Boston College in the game with a 72-yard touchdown run just seconds later. Maryland was on the verge of scoring to seemingly put the game away, but a fumble at the seven-yard line changed everything. A few plays later, the Eagles hit another big play with a 74-yard pass play with just five minutes to go, putting Boston College up 26-24. On the extra-point try to go up by three, the kick was blocked and incredibly Anthony Nixon returned the block all the way to the end zone for two points for Maryland, tying the game. Maryland got the ball back, but they were forced to punt and Boston College led by Williams was able to get into field goal range with a shot at the win in the final seconds, with senior Nate Freese hitting the 52-yard game winner.
Miami, FL (-20 ½) 45, Virginia 26: Looking at the box score in this game, one would assume Virginia won with ease as the Cavaliers had a 28-11 first down edge and 179 more total yards. Miami had an interception return touchdown six seconds into the game and also had a touchdown drive start at the three-yard line after another turnover. The Hurricanes led by just eight at halftime, but that lead grew near the spread with Miami up 31-13 entering the fourth quarter. Virginia scored a touchdown early in the final frame, but Miami would score two touchdowns in just over two minutes in the middle of the quarter to take a 25-point lead with just over five minutes to go. In the final minutes, Virginia would score to get within 19 with the biggest play on the drive being a roughing the passer penalty.
Vanderbilt (+2 ½) 14, Tennessee 10: The Volunteers led 10-7 entering the fourth quarter in a game where points were at a premium in cold conditions. Tennessee appeared to put a 10-point lead together with a rushing touchdown, but an illegal block call took the score off the board and on fourth and 19, the Volunteers attempted a fake field goal, a move that backfired with an interception. After trading punts, Vanderbilt had a chance to tie the game midway through the fourth quarter, but a long field goal was missed. Tennessee moved to the edge of field goal range trying to put the game away, but they were stuffed on a third and short play and had to punt, pinning Vanderbilt down at the eight-yard line. Vanderbilt was not quite in field goal range facing a fourth and one with 48 seconds left and a rush from quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels fell short, seemingly ending the game. The play was reviewed, however, and Vanderbilt was given a more favorable spot and enough to continue the drive. The Commodores cashed in on the extra opportunity, scoring a touchdown with 16 seconds left to win the game and flip the spread result and giving the Commodores consecutive victories in this series for the first time since 1926.
Wyoming (-6 ½) 59, Hawaii 56: This game was tied 35-35 by halftime and still knotted at 42-42 by the start of the fourth quarter. Hawaii scored first in the fourth, but the extra point was blocked, putting Wyoming in the driver’s seat. The Cowboys quickly scored to take a 49-48 lead before a surprising scoring lull with neither team scoring for almost 10 minutes of game clock. Wyoming added a touchdown with less than three minutes to go to push the margin to eight points and past the spread, but Hawaii answered and got the two-point conversion to force overtime. Hawaii went first and knowing the defense would have trouble getting a stop, the Warriors went for it on fourth and one but they were stuffed, allowing Wyoming to win with just a field goal, but still holding the underdog cover.
Iowa (-5 ½) 24, Michigan 21: Michigan led 21-7 at the half, but it was with great fortune from turnovers as Iowa completely dominated the yardage in this game. The Hawkeyes tied the game at 21-21 early in the fourth quarter and then with a chance to put the game away, Iowa was stopped on third and short and they settled for a short field goal, leaving the underdog Wolverines still in the ATS win column. Michigan gained 39 yards on the next possession for one of its best drives of the day, but a fumble gave Iowa the ball back with just over two minutes to go. The Hawkeyes did not need to add points and they got the first down they needed to run out the clock.
Arizona State (-3) 38, UCLA 33: Arizona State led by 22 at halftime in this game as they sought to clinch the Pac-12 South. UCLA would make a game of it in the second half, closing within 11 by the start of the fourth quarter and then scoring a touchdown to get within five. The Bruins went for two after that score in a critical play for those that had either side with the field goal spread, but the conversion failed. Later in the fourth, UCLA missed a short field goal that would have changed the spread result and the Bruins came up empty on an eight-play final possession as the defense showed up too late for UCLA.
Utah State (-11) 13, Colorado State 0: Conditions were brutal in Logan last week as neither team was able to move the ball with great success in what became a field position game with neither team eclipsing 200 yards. The only touchdown of the game came in the third quarter as Utah State took a 10-0 lead, still short of the late week spread. In the fourth quarter, an interception set up the Aggies for a field goal try and the kick was hit from 44 yards to put Utah State past the spread for the first time. Colorado State would get four more possessions, but without crossing its own 33-yard line.
USC (-20) 47, Colorado 29: In a potential letdown spot, USC played well with a 23-0 lead at halftime and a 37-7 lead entering the fourth quarter with the lone Colorado touchdown coming on defense. The Buffaloes made things a little interesting with 22 fourth quarter points, getting within 11 with just over three minutes to go with a successful two-point conversion that would prove important for the spread result. USC would break a 52-yard run for a touchdown as they tried to run out the clock, but the damage was done and the heavy underdog took the cash narrowly.
Mississippi State (-1 ½) 24, Arkansas 17: Arkansas led 17-10 entering the fourth quarter seeking snap its long losing streak and give Bret Bielema his first SEC win. Early in the fourth quarter, the game was tied up and on the first play in overtime, the Bulldogs punched in a touchdown to go up by seven. An interception sealed the game as Mississippi State kept its bowl hopes alive.
Middle Tennessee State (-22 ½) 42, Southern Miss 21: The ugly winless streak continues for the Golden Eagles, but they did earn a backdoor cover with a touchdown in the final three minutes. Middle Tennessee went up 42-14 with six minutes to go in the game to get by the heavy road favorite spread, but Southern Miss posted a 13-play 75-yard drive to get back within 21 in a game that actually featured fairly even yardage, but two early interception return touchdowns for the Blue Raiders.
Tulsa (-3) 24, Louisiana Tech 14: This game was even with the spread entering the fourth quarter with Tulsa up 17-14, but the Golden Hurricane added a touchdown with 10 minutes to go. Louisiana Tech had two drives into Tulsa territory in the final 10 minutes, but both drives ended in interceptions.
San Diego State (+6 ½) 34, Boise State 31: Boise State led by seven two separate times in the second half and with San Diego State threatening to score, the Broncos got an interception at the one-yard line to get the ball back. The Broncos could not move out of the tough field position and with just four minutes to go they had to punt. Trevor Harman did not get his best kick off and Tim Vizzi returned it 41 yards for a game-tying touchdown. Boise State had two chances to score in the final minutes, failing on a fourth and one play just outside of field goal range and then missing a game-winning kick as time expired. The Broncos went first in overtime and had to settle for a short field goal and San Diego State completed the upset with a touchdown.
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