4th Quarter Covers - Week 13
November 27, 2017
By Joe Nelson
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NFL - Close Calls
Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in the 13th college football weekend to close down the regular season for most temas. 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.
TCU (-26½) 45, Baylor 22: While the statistics were nearly even and it was a 6-point game with 17 minutes to go, TCU had a shot to cover the massive favorite spread in an early Friday game in Big XII play. TCU inherited great field position leading by 20 early in the fourth quarter but wound up a yard short on 3rd down at the 5-yard-line and opted for a 23-yard field goal to push the lead by 23. After an exchange of punts Baylor got the ball back at its own 3-yard-line with about three minutes remaining and back-up quarterback Zach Smith in the game due to an injury to starting quarterback Charlie Brewer. Smith threw an interception at the 29-yard-line but TCU ran four conservative runs and opted to turn the ball over on downs with 12 seconds to go rather than kick a field goal or try for the end zone as Baylor held on for the narrow cover on a spread climbed from +23½ to +26½ by kickoff.
Central Michigan (+2½) 31, Northern Illinois 24: The Huskies had a defensive touchdown a minute into the game and led 17-0 at halftime. By the end of the third quarter Central Michigan had tied the game and took a 24-17 lead early in the fourth. With about three minutes remaining Northern Illinois re-tied the game but Central Michigan hit a 40-yard pass play on 1st down to enter scoring territory. Bogged down in long field goal range the Chippewas opted to go for it on 4th-and-4 from the 29-yard-line and connected for a touchdown. The Huskies looked like a threat to answer in the final minute but Marcus Childers was intercepted just outside of the end zone.
Buffalo (+7) 31, Ohio 24: A 24-7 edge for Buffalo at the end of the 1st quarter didn’t hold up as Ohio would tie the game by the start of the fourth quarter. Pinned deep Ohio had a marginal punt that was returned 39 yards to the Ohio 6-yard-line where the Bulls put in the go-ahead touchdown with about eight minutes to go. Ohio reached the Buffalo 6-yard-line on its final drive but a third down sack made it 4th-and-12 and Nathan Rourke was intercepted in the end zone to seal the minor upset for Buffalo.
San Diego State (-20½) 35, New Mexico 10: The Lobos scored 10 points late in the third quarter to trail by just 11 but San Diego State would add two scores in the fourth quarter to pull away for a narrow favorite cover. New Mexico missed a field goal in the fourth quarter and threw interceptions on its final two possessions, including the second pick coming at the 8-yard-line in the final minute with a touchdown able to shift the spread result.
Houston (-6½) 24, Navy 14: Houston and Navy were tied through three quarters but early in the final frame the Cougars connected for a 61-yard pass play to take a 21-14 lead. The Cougars added a field goal and held Navy to four punts and an interception on its final five drives.
Texas Tech (+7½) 27, Texas 23: The Longhorns added an early fourth quarter field goal to lead 23-13 but Texas Tech rallied to score twice for the win, getting the second score in the final two minutes on a short field after a Sam Ehlinger interception was returned 55 yards. Ehlinger was picked off again with a minute to go after the Longhorns crossed midfield.
UCLA (-7) 30, California 27: The Bruins led by 10 early in the fourth quarter but California added a short field goal to trail by seven, even with the closing number on the game. With just over two minutes remaining the Bears completed an 11-play touchdown drive to tie the contest but behind back-up quarterback Devon Modster the Bruins delivered a game-winning field goal with four seconds to go.
Cincinnati (-6½) 22, Connecticut 21: Connecticut led 15-7 heading into the fourth quarter to look like a sure underdog cover but the Bearcats delivered an early fourth quarter touchdown and successfully went for two to tie the game. After three punts Cincinnati had the ball back with just over three minutes to go and delivered a touchdown at the 1:28 mark to suddenly lead by seven, just past the favorite spread. The Huskies faced 4th-and-10 from the 15-yard-line with two seconds to go and connected for only 13 yards but pass interference was called. On the untimed play the Huskies converted but incredibly missed the extra-point for a deflating finish for the, though a great result for those on the underdog with overtime avoided.
Michigan State (-14) 40, Rutgers 7: Michigan State led by only 12 through three quarters but had a nearly 4:1 yardage edge and added three fourth quarter touchdowns to pull away for a deserved convincing final score.
Ohio State (-12) 31, Michigan 20: The Buckeyes trailed 14-0 early in the game but it was tied at the half and Ohio State had a one-point edge through three quarters thanks to a blocked extra-point. Ohio State added an early fourth quarter field goal but missed a kick on the next possession. An interception quickly gave Ohio State the ball back and in three plays the Buckeyes put the game away just after the two-minute mark, leading by 11 to cover some of the early week favorite spreads though the closing line did hit -12.
Kansas State (-2½) 20, Iowa State 19: While the Kansas State offense did little through three quarters the Wildcats came to life in the fourth quarter after being down 19-7. Scoring with about six minutes to go to get within five the Wildcats forced a punt and then survived an interception that was wiped away with a penalty, in a game where the officiating decisions felt lopsided in favor of the hosts. Kansas State would deliver a game-winning touchdown as time expired on a throw to the back of the end zone after a long scramble from quarterback Skyler Thompson. Had there been even a little time on the clock the Wildcats presumably would have gone for two to try to make it a three-point margin in what would have been a huge play for all involved.
Florida Atlantic (-25) 31, Charlotte 12: While no points went on the board in the fourth quarter both teams came close to scoring as on three consecutive possessions FAU, then Charlotte, and then FAU again went for it on 4th down plays in the red zone and were stopped in scores that could have changed the spread outcome.
Southern Miss (+2) 28, Marshall 27: This game was tied 21-21 through three quarters and overtime looked likely as after an early fourth quarter score for the Golden Eagles, Marshall found the end zone at the 1:15 mark. The Herd opted to go for two and the win and didn’t convert.
Nevada (-3) 23, UNLV 16: The Rebels led 16-9 looking to get win #6 and a postseason invite but Nevada tied the game late in the third quarter and then scored halfway through the fourth. UNLV’s season came down to a 4th-and-2 play at the Nevada 22-yard-line with an incomplete pass ending the threat.
Air Force (-2) 38, Utah State 35: Air Force led by three heading into the fourth quarter before a back-and-forth final frame. Utah State went 99 yards in six plays to lead 28-24 and then got the ball back; however the Aggies were pinned deep. From the 3-yard line a fumble was recovered for an Air Force touchdown. Utah State answered with a touchdown to go back in front by four with about five minutes to go but Air Force put together its drive of the season going 75 yards in 13 plays to take a three-point lead at the 1:38 mark. Utah State would cross midfield on its final possession but failed on 4th down.
Arkansas State (-9½) 67, UL-Monroe 50: The Red Wolves led by 14 entering the fourth quarter but twice in the final frame UL-Monroe closed to within a single score. ASU made it a 10-point margin to slip past the road favorite spread with a long field goal with under two minutes to play then sealed the win with an 85-yard interception return touchdown.
Stanford (+3) 38, Notre Dame 20: Notre Dame led 20-17 through three quarters in an even contest Saturday night but things turned quickly as Stanford scored three touchdowns in fewer than four minutes of game clock early in the fourth quarter with the help of a pair of turnovers to pull away with a 38-20 final result.
Oklahoma State (-40) 58, Kansas 17: Oklahoma State only led by 24 late in the third quarter but the Cowboys would keep scoring including getting a touchdown with about five minutes remaining to push the closing margin to 40, enough to earn a push or a win for those willing to lay the lumber with the Cowboys.
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