4th Quarter Covers – Week 3

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NFL - Close Calls - Week 2

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 third 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.

Boston College (-6) 41, Wake Forest 34: This game got moved up to a late afternoon start on Thursday and Wake Forest took a 24-21 lead as a home underdog in the third quarter. Boston College answered quickly to lead by four heading into the fourth quarter with a spread that climbed from -4 to -6. The key sequence in the game was likely a late third quarter possession for Wake Forest that reached the Boston College 8-yard-line. Down four Wake Forest opted to go for it on 4th-and-2 and fell short with an incomplete pass. Boston College went 92 yards in five plays to go up by 10, missing an extra-point that looked like a potential problem for those on the Eagles. Wake Forest settled for a short field goal after again getting inside the Boston College 10-yard-line, to trail by seven. Boston College put the game away with another quick touchdown drive to go up by 14 as a Demon Deacons touchdown with just over a minute to go didn’t impact the spread result.

Charlotte (+1) 28, Old Dominion 25: This Conference USA game was moved up to Thursday afternoon and it proved to be a competitive contest with a one-point game at the half. Old Dominion led 18-13 briefly in the third quarter before Charlotte completed a 13-play touchdown drive and added a two-point conversion to lead by three as a slight home underdog. Charlotte went up by 10 in the fourth but Old Dominion scored with three minutes remaining to trim the margin to three points, a touchdown that pushed the total ‘over’ as well. Charlotte secured the on-side kick attempt and got the first down they needed to run out the clock.

Miami, FL (-12) 49, Toledo 24: The Rockets fell behind 21-0 after failing going for it on a 4th down in Miami territory and also missing a field goal. The Rockets climbed to within seven points in the second half and trailed by just 11 into the fourth quarter to sit just inside the underdog spread. Miami delivered a five-play touchdown drive and then intercepted the next Toledo pass to pull away for a more convincing final score.

LSU (+10½) 22, Auburn 19: Auburn was in position for a big win in the SEC opener leading 21-10 well into the third quarter, sitting just past the favorite spread. In an eerily familiar finish to last season’s meeting LSU stormed back, getting a field goal late in the third quarter to close to within eight points while connecting on a 71-yard pass play to have a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter. The two-point conversion failed but Auburn had to punt and LSU was able to climb into range for a 42-yard game-winning kick in the final seconds. Settling for the field goal also kept the total just ‘under’ as well.

South Florida (-14) 25, Illinois 19: This spread moved dramatically all week with an opening line as low as -7½ for the Bulls in Chicago. It didn’t appear to matter as Illinois kept adding points, going from an early 7-7 tie to a 19-7 advantage through three quarters with four consecutive field goals. Settling for three prove costly however as a productive Bulls offense started to finish drives after missed opportunities earlier in the game. South Florida scored 18 unanswered points in the final frame and while it wasn’t enough to get quite past the spread it was quite a dramatic turn of events as a 3-0 start was spoiled for the Illini with +400 moneyline tickets spoiled as well.

UAB (+4) 31, Tulane 24: The Blazers saw a 14-point halftime lead slip away in the third quarter as Tulane tied the game at 24-24 with about 10 minutes remaining, settling for a field goal when a touchdown could have put the Wave right even with the closing spread or past a spread that bounced down to -3½ at times. UAB was pinned deep with a penalty on the kick return but managed to go 93 yards for the go-ahead touchdown including a big 4th-and-1 conversion. Tulane was a threat to tie the game late but Jonathan Banks fumbled inside UAB territory and then ran out of time in the final seconds after again crossing midfield.

Florida (-21) 48, Colorado State 10: The Gators led 27-0 after a blocked punt return touchdown but Colorado State climbed back in the game in the third quarter, trailing by just 17 to sit in position for an underdog cover. Special teams came through again with an 85-yard punt return for the Gators, one of three fourth quarter touchdowns that helped pad the final margin as Florida had 48 points on only 341 yards of offense.

Nevada (-4) 37, Oregon State 35: The Wolf Pack used a few big plays to take a commanding 30-7 lead hosting Oregon State but the Beavers scored twice in the final five minutes of the first half to trail by nine. Despite 51 points at halftime, neither team scored in the third quarter. The Beavers were within two early in the fourth quarter but Nevada quickly answered and got the ball right back after a missed field goal, leading by nine. With a chance to put the game away Ty Gangi was intercepted near the red zone with a return across midfield and Oregon State scored four plays later to trail by only two. The Beavers forced a 3-and-out and had a shot at the outright underdog win but a 34-yard field goal was missed as time expired.

Missouri (-5½) 40, Purdue 37: Missouri jumped out to a 27-10 lead early in this revenge game but Purdue closed the score to 27-24 by halftime and tied the game in the third quarter. Missouri built up a 10-point lead by the start of the fourth quarter but David Blough led a two-play touchdown drive to put the Boilermakers in position to cover, down by three after earlier missing a field goal late in the third quarter. Drew Lock was intercepted in the red zone and Purdue managed to complete a 12-play drive with a field goal to tie the game with a 26-yard kick. Missouri led a methodical drive with several first downs to run out the remaining clock before settling for a 25-yard field goal rather than finding the end zone with favorite backers falling just short.

Texas A&M (-28) 48, UL-Monroe 10: The Aggies led just 24-10 at halftime and were short of the spread with a 34-10 lead well into the fourth quarter. A touchdown with eight minutes to go put Texas A&M past the number and a UL-Monroe interception followed as the Aggies added another late score to pad the final numbers.

Ohio State (-12) 40, TCU 28: TCU seemed to have control of the big Saturday night game with a 21-13 lead into the second half. Ohio State connected on a 63-yard touchdown and opted to go for two and the tie but came up short to trail by two. It didn’t take long for the Buckeyes to go in front with an interception return touchdown and then shortly thereafter Ohio State scored again after a blocked punt for three touchdowns in about four minutes of game clock, suddenly shifting the momentum completely and the likely spread result. TCU would hit a 51-yard pass play to get back within five heading into the fourth quarter before bettors had a nervous final frame depending on the number with a spread that fluctuated from -10 up to -14. Ohio State would complete a long drive early in the fourth quarter to wrap up the victory with both teams punting on the next possessions. Down 12 Shawn Robinson threw an interception with just over two minutes to go and the Buckeyes were a threat to add a late touchdown for the clear favorite cover with J.K. Dobbins breaking tackles for a 17-yard gain before being brought down inside the 10-yard-line and the Buckeyes were able to take a knee from there.

South Alabama (-10) 41, Texas State 31: The Jaguars trailed 31-16 well into the third quarter as Texas State looked poised for an upset. A 55-yard interception return touchdown sparked a South Alabama comeback and a field goal early in the fourth quarter put the Jaguars within five. After an exchange of punts South Alabama went 80 yards in less than two minutes to lead by three with two minutes to go and an interception set-up another score to win by 10 even with the common closing spread for a 25-0 run to finish the game.

Washington (-4) 21, Utah 7: There was no scoring in the fourth quarter of this late night Pac-12 contest as Washington held on for a 14-point win but Utah had plenty of opportunities. After a pair of third quarter fumbles Utah got a break with lineman Pita Tonga intercepting a desperate Jake Browing heave and he had a clear path down the sideline. Without contact from an opponent Tonga fumbled the ball out of bounds at the 11-yard line. Utah didn’t score, coming up short on 4th-and-1 near the goal line. The Utes forced a quick punt and quickly had the ball back deep in Washington territory before again coming up empty. Utah failed on 4th down in Washington territory a third time in the fourth quarter in the final minute as the score held.