4th Quarter Covers – Week 2

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NFL - Close Calls - Week 1

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 second big college football weekend. 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 (-23½) 42, SMU 12: The Mustangs led 9-0 early looking like a promising underdog Friday night in a game that started late after a long weather delay. A 78-yard punt return touchdown put TCU on the board and by halftime, the Horned Frogs led 14-12. SMU allowed its fourth non-offensive touchdown of the season in just two games with a fumble return for a touchdown in the third quarter and TCU slipped past the spread with two fourth quarter touchdowns for a 30-point win, the last score coming with just over six minutes remaining on a drive of only 15 yards after another long punt return.

South Florida (+3½) 49, Georgia Tech 38: The home underdog Bulls led much of the game, but Georgia Tech scored on a pair of Tobias Oliver touchdown runs surrounding the switch to the fourth quarter to suddenly lead 38-28 on the road. South Florida quickly answered to climb back within three and then got a red zone fumble and went 88 yards in 10 plays to take the lead. Georgia Tech threw an interception a few plays later which the Bulls eventually turned into another score to secure the minor upset.

Florida Atlantic (-8½) 33, Air Force 27: Bouncing back from a tough opening performance, Florida Atlantic had a 19-7 halftime lead but Air Force battled back to make it a five-point game by the start of the fourth quarter. Florida Atlantic slipped past the favorite number with a 26-yard touchdown pass and added the two-point conversion to lead by 13. Twice Air Force was stopped going for it on fourth down as it appeared that margin would hold, but with under a minute remaining, a Florida Atlantic punt was blocked and returned for a touchdown as Air Force stole the late the late cover.

NC State (-26½) 41, Georgia State 7: NC State fell behind 7-0 to start the game but took control from there and the outcome was never threatened. The Wolfpack were only leading by 20 heading into the fourth quarter and it appeared likely to stay that way until Brady Bodine broke a 39-yard run for a score following a fourth down failure for Georgia State. That put NC State just past the spread with just over three minutes remaining and after a fumble recovery, NC State added a second late score for a misleading final margin.

Oklahoma (-30½) 49, UCLA 21: The Sooners were adjusted to a massive favorite price against UCLA following contrasting Week 1 results and Oklahoma looked like they would still surpass the spread with a 49-14 edge halfway through the fourth quarter. With about four minutes remaining, UCLA completed a 13-play, 85-yard drive for the cover-spoiling score to losing by only 28. Oklahoma only had a yardage edge of 102 yards as the Bruins compiled some late production after allowing six touchdowns in a row after the early 7-0 advantage.

Navy (+6½) 22, Memphis 21: Memphis used two big runs to break open this AAC opener leading 21-9 through three quarters. Navy took advantage of a fumble and found the end zone two plays later with great field position, cutting the margin to just five points and enough for the underdog cover. A 3-and-out was forced defensively and Navy melted nearly seven minutes of clock in going 13 plays for the go-ahead touchdown with just over two minutes remaining for the outright win. Memphis reached the Navy 34-yard-line on its final possession, but failed on 4th down as the Midshipmen held on.

Colorado (+3) 33, Nebraska 28: The Huskers had to wait an extra week for the opener in the Scott Frost era and Nebraska quickly fell behind 14-0 vs. a former Big 8 foe. Nebraska would battle back and eventually took a 28-20 lead on a 57-yard pass play late in the third quarter. Colorado would answer to sit in position to cover, opting not to go for two down two late in the third quarter and trailing by one heading into the final frame. Miscues on both sides followed in the final frame with matching missed field goals before both teams were stopped on 4th-and-1 plays just across midfield.

Nebraska had the ball back up one at the 50-yard-line with six minutes remaining but Adrian Martinez threw an interception on first down. Colorado didn’t take advantage with another missed field goal but the Buffaloes held on defense to get the ball back with just over two minutes remaining. An unnecessary roughness penalty converted a 3rd-and-24 for Colorado and on the next play, Steven Montez delivered with a 40-yard touchdown strike to put the Buffaloes in front with a minute remaining. The two-point conversion was missed as the window was open for Nebraska but the Huskers could not come up with the game-winning score despite reaching the Colorado 20-yard-line in the final seconds.

Iowa (-3) 13, Iowa State 3: This rivalry was tied just 3-3 at halftime and Iowa led just 6-3 through three quarters, even with the closing spread though the Hawkeyes were a slightly larger favorite much of the week. After making a 48-yard field goal, Miguel Recinos missed from 50 early in the fourth quarter but on Iowa’s next possession, the Hawkeyes converted several big third downs on the way to completing an 83-yard touchdown drive to seal the win. Iowa State was a late threat to potentially spoil the cover but after a big 23-yard gain Zeb Noland, who took over after Kyle Kempt was injured, fumbled on a sack two plays later to end the threat near midfield.

Maryland (-13) 45, Bowling Green 14: A glance at the box score suggests a typical B10-MAC blowout with Maryland winning by 31 and posting a 565-158 yardage edge. Bowling Green led 40 minutes into this game and the Terrapins led just 17-14 when the clock hit 15:00 to start the fourth quarter as Bowling Green managed to stay in this game. Maryland added four touchdowns in the fourth quarter while compiling big yardage for some misleading numbers.

Baylor (-16½) 37, Texas-San Antonio 20: -17 was the common number on this game Friday and Saturday before the Bears closed at -16½. The Bears led by 14 entering the fourth quarter, but Texas-San Antonio got the game back within seven and sat in a good position to cover after holding Baylor to a field goal to trail by 10. The Roadrunners went backwards from there however and Baylor managed to burn out most of the remaining time in a 12-play drive that completed with a touchdown for a 17-point lead in the final two minutes.

Clemson (-11½) 28, Texas A&M 26: Clemson led 28-13 in College Station heading into the fourth quarter but the Tigers ran out of gas and nearly got caught for a major upset. The Aggies were in position to score down eight just ahead of the two-minute mark but a fumble was controversially ruled a touchback on a close call. Texas A&M forced a 3-and-out and found the end zone two plays later, but wound up with an interception on the potential tying two-point conversion as Clemson escaped but gave away the cover.

Minnesota (+1) 21, Fresno State 14: The Gophers led by three entering the fourth quarter and added Emmit Carpenter’s second field goal of 50 or more yards in the game to lead by six. A Fresno State 45-yard touchdown pass shifted the result a few plays later however as the Bulldogs led by one, closing as slight favorite but dogged most of the week. Minnesota answered with a 10-play touchdown drive and a successful two-point conversion put the Gophers up by seven heading into the final minutes. Fresno State converted a big 4th-and-3 play late in the game and had a new set of downs at the Minnesota 4-yard line, but Antoine Winfield Jr. made a spectacular interception on a trick play attempt to seal the win and cover for Minnesota.

Colorado State (+13½) 34, Arkansas 27: The Rams had miserable results in the first two games of the season looked on their way to another lopsided loss trailing 27-9 late in the third quarter hosting Arkansas. A touchdown plus a two-point conversion put Colorado State within 10 at the end of the frame and the Rams took over in the fourth. Following three consecutive Arkansas punts, Colorado State scored 17 points including the go-ahead touchdown in the final seconds for the upset.

Oklahoma State (-30½) 55, South Alabama 13: The Cowboys weren’t quite past the number with a 41-13 edge through three quarters but scored within the first minute of the final frame and then added another late touchdown to confirm the result.

Missouri (-20½) 40, Wyoming 13: Missouri led by just 20 heading into the fourth quarter but added 10 points early in the final frame to slide past the favorite spread that nearly reached three touchdowns. Wyoming added a late field goal and had the ball back across midfield in the final minute but simply opted to fold with a late punt.

Utah (-13) 17, Northern Illinois 6: The spread results on this game were varied as the Utes were -10 much of week and right at -11 late in the week before a late climb to -13 by kickoff. It didn’t look likely to matter in this low scoring grind as Northern Illinois hit a field goal with seven minutes remaining to make it a one-point game. Utah answered in kind to go back up by four and then got a game-changing play on defense with an interception returned 40 yards for a touchdown. The Huskies would reach the Utah 35-yard-line on its final possession but the Utes would hold to win by 11.

Arizona State (+4½) 16, Michigan State 13: The late night B1G/Pac-12 clash featured just three points by halftime but the Spartans managed to pull away in the third quarter with a 16-3 advantage as a slight road favorite. The Spartans got a big stop to hold ASU to a short field goal early in the fourth quarter but the game turned with back-to-back big pass plays for a two-play touchdown drive for the Sun Devils to tie the game. Michigan State went backwards after crossing into Sun Devils territory, eventually facing 3rd-and-34 after a fumble on a sack and Arizona State made the most of its final opportunity lining up a field goal for the win as time expired.

Washington State (-30½) 31, San Jose State 0: Washington State isn’t known for its defense but they held San Jose State to only 109 yards last week. The Cougars led 24-0 at the half but then didn’t score again until less than five minutes remaining, slipping past the closing spread although much of the week Washington State was priced higher than 31.