4th Quarter Covers - Week 15
December 9, 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 final week of the college football regular season. 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.
Louisville (-3) 31, Cincinnati 24: Louisville had an early 10-0 lead in this primetime matchup in the AAC but by the start of the fourth quarter Cincinnati had a 14-10 lead as a home underdog. Teddy Bridgewater delivered a lot of fourth quarter magic when these teams met in 2012 and he delivered another great finish with two touchdown passes in a six minute span including one for the season highlight reels. The second score put Louisville up 24-21, dead even with the common spread with just over two minutes to go. Cincinnati only took a few plays to get all the way down to the Louisville 13-yard line but they could not move much further and had to settle for a short game tying field goal in the final seconds. Louisville went first in overtime and with the help of a borderline pass interference call on a key third down play the Cardinals were able to rush into the end zone and Cincinnati was held out in four plays as Louisville completed a 11-1 season and delivered a lucky cover for those on the road favorite.
Baylor (-17½) 30, Texas 10: While Baylor put up a lot of yardage they managed just three points in the first half with heavy underdog Texas tying the game late in the second quarter. Those on ‘under’ 71 felt pretty good with just six points at the break but the Bears were able to break the game open in the third quarter posting 17 points to lead 20-3 heading into the fourth. Texas managed to score a touchdown on a great pass play from Case McCoy to get within 10 and then with the Longhorns holding the Bears to a short field goal halfway through the quarter, the underdog cover looked fairly safe with Baylor up just 23-10 in the final minutes. McCoy would throw a critical interception deep in Texas territory however, and on first down Baylor rushed in another touchdown to go up by 20 and just past the spread with only four minutes to go. Texas did not threaten on its final possession and the Bears wrapped up the Big XII title.
Auburn (+2½) 59, Missouri 42: Sharp money on Missouri flipped this line late in the week but Auburn held a slim lead throughout, up by one at the half and up by three at the start of the fourth quarter after Missouri closed the gap with a touchdown and a two-point conversion. The Missouri defense could not stop the running game however as Tre Mason punched in another touchdown to put Auburn up by 10 early in the fourth quarter. Both teams punted on the subsequent possessions and Missouri was forced to go for it on fourth down deep in their own territory on the next possession, falling short with an incompletion on play where pass interference certainly could have been called. Auburn took only one play to finish off the game with another rushing touchdown for Mason, incredibly posting 545 rushing yards in the game to continue the charmed season for Auburn and with some help from Michigan State the Tigers are headed west for a shot at a national championship.
Michigan State (+5½) 34, Ohio State 24: Michigan State’s 17-0 early lead was wiped out as Ohio State appeared to be in complete control up 24-17 with all the momentum late in the third quarter. Michigan State would add a late third quarter field goal to get back within the spread and despite getting close to midfield the Buckeyes were stopped and had to punt on its next possession. The Spartans broke a big play in the passing game and then got another big pass interference penalty as they eventually took the lead with about 12 minutes to go, up 27-24. Michigan State nearly picked up a surprise onside kick on the kickoff but Ohio State still failed to take advantage of great field position again with another punt. Ohio State got the ball back with seven minutes to go but they were stopped on fourth down just outside of field goal range in a play that likely sealed the underdog cover. Michigan State picked up a few first downs and was nearing the point where they could run out the clock as those on the total sweated but Jeremy Langford broke a 26-yard rush for a touchdown to seal the upset and the score a win for the ‘over’.
Fresno State (-2½) 24, Utah State 17: The Bulldogs had turnover issues in this game but they still managed to build a 24-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter in the inaugural Mountain West championship game. Utah State would make things interesting late however with a touchdown early in the fourth and a successful onside kick. Utah State had to settle for a 20-yard field goal on that drive but the Aggies were within seven. Fresno State went for it on 4th down just outside of field goal range with less than four minutes to in the game but they were stopped. Utah State however took a sack on its own 4th down attempt near midfield. Fresno State was again stuffed a few plays later on another 4th down as they could not put the game away and Utah State had one last chance getting the ball back with 1:42 to go and no timeouts. While the Aggies moved into Fresno State territory on that drive, the threat ended with an interception as the Bulldogs were able to escape with the title.
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