4th Quarter Covers - Week 10
November 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 for the start of the November schedule. 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.
Georgia Tech (-11 ½) 21, Pittsburgh 10: The line on this game was at -10 or -10 ½ most of the week and those that waited to back the favorite were punished with the 11-point final margin. The Yellow Jackets were up by 11 at halftime, but covering seemed unlikely and winning the game was in doubt as Pittsburgh scored early in the second half to trail by just four. Georgia Tech had a costly fumble later in the third quarter, but neither team was able to get a substantial drive going with much of the second half featuring stalled drives near midfield. Getting the ball back with about 10 minutes to go in the game, Georgia Tech put together a long clock-burning drive, surviving a fumble as the Yellow Jackets eventually put in the touchdown after 13 plays and over seven minutes off the clock. Down 11, Pittsburgh made a late charge to win for the underdog, getting the ball inside the Georgia Tech 20 in the final seconds, but an interception ended the threat and left most on the favorite victorious.
Western Kentucky (-19) 44, Georgia State 28: Western Kentucky took a 31-7 lead midway through the third quarter to sit past the heavy road favorite spread, but the Hilltoppers let Georgia State back in the game as the Panthers would score twice before the start of the fourth quarter, trailing only by 10 points. Western Kentucky brought the lead back to a comfortable 17 points early in the final frame, but had little incentive to pour it on while sitting just short of the spread. After an interception set up Western Kentucky in good field position, they were able to rush down the field to take time off the clock, eventually scoring with just over three minutes to go in the game and leading by 23 after they missed the extra point try. The favorite cover was to be short lived, however, as Georgia State managed to score, aided significantly by a pass interference penalty on a key third-down play to take the margin past the spread to just 16 points. Georgia State actually recovered the onside kick, but did not add any more points.
Kansas State (-17 ½) 41, Iowa State 7: While the final score looks like a blowout, Kansas State led just 20-0 entering the fourth quarter, just barely by the spread. For the second straight week the Wildcats did substantial scoring in the fourth quarter, adding three touchdowns in less than six minutes of game clock to pull away. Iowa State scored late to spoil the shutout, but it was far too late to catch up to the spread by then.
Middle Tennessee State (-3 ½) 24, UAB 21: The Blazers led 10-0 in this game well into the second half, but Middle Tennessee State finally finished a drive late in the third quarter to get within three points. UAB added a field goal early in the fourth to create a six-point lead, which made the underdog cover likely. A few minutes later, Middle Tennessee State hit the big play it needed with a 93-yard pass play to take the lead for the first time in the game. Momentum stayed with the Blue Raiders with a 40-yard interception return touchdown that put the margin to eight points and past the road favorite spread. UAB did not fold however, putting together a 70-yard drive that featured a big fourth down conversion and then delivering the two-point conversion to knot the game at 21-21. Getting the ball back with less than two minutes to go, Middle Tennessee State wasted no time and moved to the edge of field goal range in just a few plays against an exhausted defense. Logan Kilgore hit Marcus Henry for a 33-yard pass play, but he was down short of the end zone and UAB kicked the game winning field goal in the final seconds as the underdog held on narrowly in a wild finish.
Georgia (-3 ½) 23, Florida 20: It appeared that Georgia was going to run away with this game with a 20-0 lead early into the second quarter, but Florida proved resilient. Florida scored its first touchdown with six minutes to go in the third quarter and then later got a safety to shift momentum a bit. On the next possession, the Gators were able to find the end zone and with a successful two-point conversion, it was a three-point game early in the fourth quarter. Georgia moved to its own 39-yard line and opted to go for it on fourth and short, failing in a play that looked like it could prove very costly and open to great scrutiny. A personal foul penalty on Florida would set them back and despite being near the edge of field goal range, Florida had to punt after being sacked on third and long. Georgia had the ball back with still eight minutes to go in the game and the Bulldogs were able to impressively run out the clock with a 15-play drive. While Georgia was within the Florida 15-yard line, they did not need to add points and a push was the most common result though a win or loss could have been had on either side depending on the timing.
Florida State (-21) 41, Miami, FL 14: The big game of the week was just a seven-point game at halftime, but Florida State pulled away with a 35-14 lead going into the fourth, even with the common late week spread though many likely were sweating sitting with tickets at -21 ½ or -22. Florida State maintained control in the fourth with a big interception and two long sustained drives. While the Seminoles only added two short field goals, the defense held despite Miami threatening to score late in the game.
Wisconsin (-9) 28, Iowa 9: Iowa dominated the first half of this game, but the Badgers were able to connect on a big play late to take a 7-6 lead into the break. The Badgers led just 14-9 going into the fourth quarter and that score stood well into the final frame. The Badgers busted a big run that led to an eventual touchdown and then added another touchdown with under two minutes to go to create a misleading final in what was a tight game by most measures.
Arkansas State (+3) 17, South Alabama 16: The Jaguars led 13-7 entering the fourth quarter, but a long field goal for the Red Wolves early in the final frame cut the margin to just three points, dead even with the spread. South Alabama would settle for a short field goal after failing to get in the end zone a few minutes later to leave the door open for Arkansas State and the Red Wolves took advantage with a 75-yard touchdown drive to take the lead with about six minutes to go. Arkansas State managed six punts and a fumble on its first half possessions, but they rallied to win and held on late with two stops late in the game for a minor upset.
Florida Atlantic (-3) 34, Tulane 17: In a difficult week with head coach Carl Pelini stepping down, a flat start against division leader Tulane was not a big surprise despite strong recent play from the Florida Atlantic. The Owls trailed 17-7 at the half, but managed to tie the game by the start of the fourth quarter. With dominant defense and a few big plays, Florida Atlantic managed to pull away in the fourth quarter as they had interceptions on four consecutive Tulane possessions at one point in the second half, getting two late rushing touchdowns to double Tulane’s final score, holding the Wave to just 167 total yards in the game.
Boise State (-7) 42, Colorado State 30: After a slow start, Boise State took control in Fort Collins with some big plays to lead 42-17 with less than 10 minutes to go in the game. Colorado State moved the ball well all night and found the end zone twice in about four minutes of game clock to trim the margin to just 12 points, with one more touchdown potentially changing the spread result. Colorado State got an onside kick after the second score, but quickly threw an interception to end that threat. Boise State managed to get a few first downs, but did not burn a lot of clock with timeouts used by the Rams and they had to punt the ball back with still over two minutes to go. It did not take long for Colorado State to move into the red zone, but the Rams were stopped and the backdoor cover threat was held off.