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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:02 PM

4th Quarter Covers - Week 4

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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 fourth 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.

Penn State (-27) 63, Illinois 24: Illinois led 24-21 in the second half looking safe as a nearly four-touchdown home underdog Friday night. The Lions wound score 42 unanswered points including two touchdowns to earn the favorite cover in the final five minutes of the game for an improbable cover and another misleading final score in a Penn State game this season. Penn State has now scored 91 points after the start of the fourth quarter in four games this season.

Western Kentucky (+3) 28, Ball State 20: For a second straight season, Ball State had a cruel finish in this matchup as they lost a lead in the final two minutes last season and led 20-14 with five minutes to go on Saturday. Western Kentucky put together two touchdown drives in-between a Cardinals punt to win by eight as a slight underdog on the road, led by Steven Duncan who replaced Davis Shanley at quarterback.

Syracuse (-30) 51, Connecticut 21: This spread opened at -27½ and climbed all the was to -31 before settling back at -30. The favorite cover didn’t look likely with a 31-14 halftime edge but Syracuse got a punt return touchdown in the third quarter and approached the spread with a 41-14 advantage through three quarters. Connecticut struck for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to close to within 20, but Syracuse answered quickly and then added a field goal following a fumble to lead by exactly 30. The Huskies looked like a great threat to get back within the number reaching the Syracuse 16-yard-line, but an interception near the end zone ended a late threat and a push was the closing line result.

Miami, FL (-25½) 31, Florida International 17: The Hurricanes dominated this game and led 24-0 at halftime with FIU held to only 25 yards. The Hurricanes got past the spread with a 31-0 lead in the third quarter but an interception from N’Kosi Perry halted the momentum, with Perry inserted into the game early relieving Malik Rosier. The Hurricanes got the ball back quickly and reached the red zone early in the fourth quarter, but Perry took a sack with Miami going for it on 4th-and-goal. Perhaps offended by that decision the Panthers had a spark, going 85 yards for their first score of the game with a touchdown near the seven-minute mark that was enough to shift the spread result. FIU snagged a fumble a few plays later to add a field goal and then posted another touchdown after an on-side kick recovery for a very misleading 14-point final margin.

Florida State (-10) 37, Northern Illinois 19: The spread on this game jumped around significantly hitting -12 on Friday before dipping as low as -9½ briefly, settling at -10. That was the exact margin heading into the fourth quarter after Seminoles connected on a 78-yard pass play. The Huskies didn’t take long to answer but for the second straight time failed on a two-point conversion, trailing by 11. Those that had the Huskies weren’t necessarily deserving of a win as NIU was +4 in turnovers and soundly out-gained but the Huskies took a late sack going for it on 4th-and-long from their own 35. With 12 seconds remaining Florida State rushed in for a touchdown to pad the final margin and make it a clear Seminoles win and cover.

Ohio State (-38) 49, Tulane 6: The Buckeyes led 42-6 at the half, well on their way but not quite past the massive home favorite spread in Urban Meyer’s return. A scoreless third quarter featured five consecutive punts before Ohio State failed going for it on a 4th-and-2 play but Tulane likewise failed going for it on its own fourth down in Ohio State territory a few minutes later. With just over a minute on the clock, Ohio State broke the scoring drought with a favorite cover saving touchdown for a 43-point win.

Toledo (-11½) 63, Nevada 44: Scoring on a blocked punt return and a kickoff return, Toledo led most of the way but Nevada didn’t go away, cutting the margin to four points in the third quarter. Toledo scored late in the third to lead by 11 and then extended that lead to 56-38 early in the fourth. Nevada would answer but failed going for two to leave the margin at 12 for a big distinction but it didn’t matter as Mitchell Guadagni broke a 34-yard touchdown scamper a few plays later for a 19-point edge. Nevada was intercepted and then stopped on downs near midfield in two late possessions to fall short of the spread.

SMU (+6) 31, Navy 30: SMU led 23-14 early in the fourth quarter taking advantage of a short field after a fumble. The extra-point was blocked and was returned the other way however as Navy was back within seven. Navy tied the game with about six minutes remaining and overtime was needed. Navy went first and did what it needed to do over nine plays to get seven points, sitting past the road favorite spread momentarily. SMU took seven plays to answer including a fourth down conversion. Sonny Dykes rolled the dice and went for two and it worked for the upset, with those on the home underdog cheering the decision to avoid a second overtime session.

Georgia (-14) 43, Missouri 29: The Bulldogs scored on a fumble return and a blocked punt return in the first half and didn’t have an offensive touchdown until the third quarter, leading 27-7. Missouri was productive in this game and was within 11 by the start of the fourth quarter. Both teams scored touchdowns early in the fourth before Missouri missed a field goal. Missouri failed on downs in its own territory with about five minutes remaining and the next attempt for a field goal was good for Georgia for a 14-point final margin, even with the common spread though the highly ranked Bulldogs were priced at -14½ at times.

Stanford (-3½) 38, Oregon 31: Oregon was in complete control with a 24-7 halftime edge and briefly appeared to go up 30-7 late in the third quarter before a controversial replay overturn. Oregon still had 1st-and-goal at the 1, but fumbled and lost nine yards and two plays later a high snap was returned 80 yards for a Stanford touchdown. The Cardinal cut the margin to three just ahead of the end of the quarter and had the ball down to the Oregon 30-yard-line early in the fourth quarter, failing going for it on 4th-and-1. Oregon delivered on a 4th-and-1 of its own with about five minutes remaining and got a touchdown on the next play to lead by 10. Stanford answered with a three-play touchdown drive and Oregon looked capable of running out most of the clock with a new set of downs and 1:35 remaining with Stanford down to one timeout. Instead the Ducks fumbled reaching for a game-sealing 1st down on a second down run in the final minute and Stanford managed to get a tying field goal as time expired. In overtime, the Cardinal got a deflected pass touchdown while Oregon wound up intercepted on 4th-and-goal for a stunning turn of events with Stanford getting the road favorite cover despite not leading at any point in regulation.

Auburn (-29½) 34, Arkansas 3: This wasn’t quite the SEC blowout that the final score and narrow cover for Auburn might suggest as Auburn finished with just 225 total yards in the game, but was consistently in great field position thanks to turnovers and special teams success. Auburn led by 24-3 heading into the fourth quarter despite only 161 yards of offense. The Tigers added 10 points in the final nine minutes of the game including a late field goal that narrowly earned the favorite cover.

Troy (-4) 35, UL-Monroe 27: The Trojans had a 35-7 halftime edge but things got tight late as the Warhawks scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to climb within eight. After punting on its first four second half possessions, Troy managed to get in field goal range but missed as UL-Monroe had the ball back with just over two minutes remaining. The Warhawks reached the 11-yard line with a new set of downs and still nearly a minute remaining but an interception ended the comeback bid.

North Texas (-11½) 47, Liberty 7: This game featured a rather misleading final score as Liberty had a new set of downs near midfield down 21-7 well into the third quarter before a lengthy lightning delay. It was a different game after the break as Liberty missed a field goal on that promising drive and then saw North Texas add four late touchdowns to win by 40 despite relatively close production numbers.

Alabama (-23½) 45, Texas A&M 23: Alabama was tested a bit in this game but still led by 29 heading into the fourth quarter. Halfway through the final frame the Aggies spoiled the favorite cover with an 88-yard touchdown drive that would conclude the scoring in the game.

Wisconsin (-3) 28, Iowa 17: Iowa had control of this game most of the way but caught a tough break with the foot of a blocking Iowa player contacting the ball on a punt leading to a short Wisconsin touchdown. The Hawkeyes answered to lead by three through a series of punts before Wisconsin completed an 88-yard drive to take the lead inside the final minute, slipping just past the spread 21-17. Iowa was intercepted on a deflected pass on its last effort and with 22 seconds remaining the Badgers broke a run for another score to make for a misleading final result, pushing the low total just ‘over’ in the process as well.

New Mexico State (-5½) 27, UTEP 20: The winless Aggies got two big breaks with a blocked punt return and a fumble return touchdown yet still led by just four late in the fourth quarter. With just over three minutes remaining a 22-yard field goal sealed the narrow road favorite cover in this ugly battle out west.

Utah State (-9½) 42, Air Force 32: The Aggies took control in the middle of this game with four consecutive touchdowns surrounding halftime, leading 35-14 before Air Force came up with a late third quarter field goal. The Falcons made it a game with a pair of touchdowns in 13 seconds of game clock, the second of which came on a fumble return. Up three Utah State got a late 70 yard run from Gerold Bright to put the margin at 10, right near the number which reached -11 but dropped in the hours before kickoff of this late night Mountain West game. The Falcons were in position to make the pricing a moot point reaching the Utah State 16-yard-line late in the game before failing on downs.

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