4th Quarter Covers - Week 14
December 3, 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.
Mississippi State (+3) 17, Mississippi 10: Ole Miss took a 10-7 lead early in the second half and that score would remain until late in the fourth quarter. Mississippi State had a productive drive early in the fourth quarter, but that threat ended with an interception. With just over two minutes to go, the Bulldogs were able to tie the game with a field goal. They actually got the ball back again after forcing an Ole Miss three-and-out, but the game-winning attempt missed in the closing seconds. In overtime, Mississippi State was eventually dealt a tough decision going first. They were sitting with fourth and one from the three-yard line and opted to go for it. The plan worked with a Dak Prescott rush into the end zone and on defense, the Bulldogs forced a Bo Wallace fumble to end the game.
Ball State (-35) 55, Miami, OH 14: Ball State led 35-0 at the half, but that was just good enough to be even with this massive spread. Miami scored two touchdowns in the third quarter as the Cardinals entered the final frame 'only' leading by 31. Still aggressive on offense, Ball State connected for a 75-yard pass play early in the fourth quarter to get by the number with a late field goal added for good measure.
Syracuse (+2 ½) 34, Boston College 31: Syracuse needed this win to get to bowl eligibility, but they trailed 28-24 after a Boston College touchdown halfway through the fourth quarter. A field goal with five minutes to go put the Orange in position to cover down 28-27, but with two minutes to go, the Eagles settled for a short kick to go back up by four, taking advantage of an interception that set them up immediately in the red zone. Failing to get seven proved costly, however, as the Orange executed the two-minute drill to perfection, moving 75 yards in eight plays and scoring the game-winning touchdown with just six seconds on the clock.
Iowa State (+7 ½) 52, West Virginia 44: West Virginia stormed out to a 17-0 lead in this game and at one point, led 31-7 in the second quarter. Iowa State still trailed by 17 heading into the fourth quarter and they were still down 17 after a 76-yard pass play for the Mountaineers seemingly put the game away. With less than 10 minutes to go, Iowa State hit its own big play and then added a field goal with just four minutes to go to get within seven after a West Virginia fumble. On the next drive for the Mountaineers, a third down pass was intercepted as Iowa State was in great shape with just less than three minutes to go. It took five plays and Iowa State had tied the game. In the first two overtimes, there were four successful field goals as neither team could break through. Going first in the third session, Iowa State connected on the very first play for a 25-yard touchdown strike and then hit the two-point conversion. West Virginia was down to the Iowa State three-yard line in just two plays, but they could not get in as the Iowa State defense held.
Northwestern (-3 ½) 37, Illinois 34: Seeking its first Big Ten win of the season, Northwestern trailed Illinois, 27-23 entering the fourth quarter as a slight road favorite. With two touchdowns in a seven-minute span, the Wildcats went on top 37-27 with just eight minutes to go in the game, taking advantage of an Illinois interception. Both teams traded punts before Illinois managed to score with just over two minutes to go to get within three, getting back in beneath the spread. Northwestern was able to run out the clock to get the win, but Illinois earned the cover as Northwestern closed the conference season 1-7 S/U and ATS.
Indiana (-20 ½) 56, Purdue 36: Indiana led 35-9 at the half and with two more touchdowns, the rout was on with the Hoosiers leading 49-9 with less than six minutes to go in the third quarter, nearly doubling the spread with the 40-point margin. The Indiana defense has certainly had some issues this season and in a 10-minute span, Purdue put three consecutive touchdown drives together, the last of which came on an 80-yard pass play. That put Purdue within 19, but Indiana would add its own touchdown with just over three minutes to go. With a minute left, Purdue scored again and the failed two-point conversion put the margin at 20 points, just short of the favorite spread for most.
Connecticut (+2) 28, Rutgers 17: Rutgers led 17-14 entering the fourth quarter in this game, needing one more win to be bowl eligible. Connecticut punched in a touchdown to take the lead in the first minute of the fourth quarter and then the Huskies had the ball back with an interception a few plays later. Later in the frame, Connecticut put the game away with a 12-play drive for another touchdown and the last chance for the Knights resulted in another interception.
Georgia (-2 ½) 41, Georgia Tech 34: The Bulldogs would not have it any other way with another dramatic finish in this rivalry game. Georgia Tech led 20-0 early in this game, but Georgia pulled within three just before the start of the fourth quarter. It seemed like the Yellow Jackets had wrapped things up with a 10-point lead after a fourth quarter touchdown, but Georgia answered with a 13-play scoring drive to get back within three. An interception on a rare pass play from the Yellow Jackets changed everything and with about four minutes to go, Georgia tied the game. Georgia Tech actually moved to the Georgia 40-yard line, but eventually had to punt and the game went to overtime. Both teams scored touchdowns with relative ease in the first overtime session and it took Georgia just one play to score again going first in the second overtime. Georgia Tech got down to the Georgia three-yard line, but went backwards from there and eventually failed on fourth down as the road favorite Bulldogs escaped with a lucky cover.
Missouri (-4) 28, Texas A&M 21: The Missouri defense held Johnny Manziel in check, but the Tigers needed to rally from a halftime deficit with an SEC East title on the line. Missouri led 21-14 entering the fourth quarter, but Texas A&M tied the game early in the fourth. Both teams traded punts twice with the game tied at 21-21 and it appeared that it might be a field goal game either way before Henry Josey broke a 57-yard run for the Tigers to take a seven-point lead. The Missouri defense held and the Tigers kept their incredible ATS season going.
Virginia Tech (-10 ½) 16, Virginia 6: There was no scoring in the entire second half of this game, despite Virginia Tech having five possessions that reached Virginia territory. The defense for the Hokies dominated, but those on the road favorite could not get the points they needed in a narrow defeat.
Texas-San Antonio (-16 ½) 30, Louisiana Tech 10: This was a seven-point game at the half after a late interception return touchdown for the heavy underdog Bulldogs. The Roadrunners did not get by the spread until settling for a short field goal with 11 minutes left in the game. UTSA added another field goal later in the fourth to put the margin at 20 points, but covering the spread was at great risk as Louisiana Tech had first and goal on its final drive before three incomplete passes and a sack ended the threat.
New Mexico State (-2 ½) 24, Idaho 16: New Mexico State clung to a one-point lead after a short field goal from Idaho late in the third quarter. Early in the final frame, the Aggies found the end zone to push the margin to eight points, where the game closed despite Idaho getting inside the 20 on two separate fourth quarter drives.
South Carolina (-2) 31, Clemson 17: This was a tie game at 17-17 entering the fourth quarter, but Clemson's three fourth quarter drives all ended in turnovers. Despite posting fewer than 50 yards in the fourth quarter on offense, the Gamecocks added 14 points to deliver another win in this heated series. Clemson held South Carolina to just 318 yards but had six turnovers in the game compared with none for the Gamecocks.
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