Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:02 AM

4th Quarter Covers - Week 5

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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 fifth big college football weekend to close September. 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.

Michigan State (-27) 31, Central Michigan 20: The Spartans didn’t appear likely to cover trailing 3-0 until four minutes into the second quarter but Michigan State managed to flip the game to hold a 17-3 edge at the half and slipped past the spread momentarily with a 31-3 edge through three quarters. Central Michigan put up 17 points in the fourth to seal the underdog cover in an oddly uneven game with Central Michigan winning the first and fourth quarter 20-0 but outscored in the middle two quarters 31-0.

Northern Illinois (+3.5) 26, Eastern Michigan 23: After falling behind 10-0 early Northern Illinois dominated this game holding Eastern Michigan to negative net yards over nine consecutive possessions. The Huskies only led 13-10 in the fourth quarter and benefited from a missed field goal from the Eagles with about six minutes remaining. The Huskies weren’t quite able to run out the remaining clock and in the final two minutes Eastern Michigan managed to get back into field goal range and successfully forced overtime. Both teams scored with relative ease in the first overtime in the second session NIU was poised to score quickly again but fumbled at the four-yard-line. Eastern Michigan played it safe and set-up a 38-yard kick that was missed. In the third overtime Chad Ryland redeemed himself with a 42-yard field goal as the Eagles took the lead but the Huskies converted two big 3rd downs and got into the end zone for six and the minor MAC upset.

Indiana (-14½) 24, Rutgers 17: The Hoosiers led 24-7 at halftime at Rutgers but wound up unable to score in the second half with a pair of punts and a pair of turnovers in Rutgers territory. After an early fourth quarter fumble from Indiana Rutgers drove for a touchdown a few plays later to get within the spread. The Knights added a field goal after a Peyton Ramsey interception for a touchback but the Knights never got the ball back with a chance to tie down by only seven.

Washington State (+1) 28, Utah 24: After a high scoring 21-21 first half Utah got an early field goal in the third quarter and that appeared like it would be enough with an exchange of six straight punts with the Utes controlling the ground game with a 204-0 rushing edge in this Pac-12 affair. The Cougars got the big play it needed with an 89-yard touchdown pass through a pair of missed tackles with four minutes remaining to take the lead. Utah appeared poised to answer with a 36-yard gain on a 4th-and-10 play just across midfield, reaching the 7-yard-line with enough time to work with but the play was wiped out with a holding penalty and the Utes failed on the subsequent 4th-and-20 attempt.

Western Michigan (-3) 40, Miami, OH 39: The Redhawks led by 13 at the half and still sat up by six heading into the fourth quarter but things got interesting in the final half of the fourth quarter. Western Michigan completed an 89-yard drive to take a 34-33 lead but it took less than a minute for Miami to answer going up by five and opting to go for two and failing. Western Michigan would put together another long scoring drive that featured a 4th-and-10 conversion and also opted to go for two in a critical play relative to the spread with the Broncos favored by -1½ to -2½ most of the week before closing at -3. That conversion attempt also failed and with nearly three minutes remaining Miami had a great opportunity to get back in front. The Redhawks converted a 3rd-and-21 play but then fell short on a 3rd-and-3 opportunity and opted for a 50-yard field goal attempt that was no good. The one-point loss was enough to hold on for a narrow home underdog cover for the Redhawks however.

Georgia Southern (+3) 28, Arkansas State 21: The Sun Belt favorites trailed 7-3 at the half but managed to tie the game at 14-14 late in the third quarter and then at 21-21 with about five minutes remaining. Overtime looked certain as Georgia Southern faced 3rd down near midfield with fewer than 30 seconds remaining but Wesley Kennedy broke free for a 47-yard touchdown run for the upset.

Alabama (-48) 56, UL-Lafayette 14: Alabama had a 28-0 lead not even 13 minutes into this game and eclipsed the massive spread by halftime. A 94-yard pass play with reserves in the game put Alabama up 56-0 late in the third quarter but the Ragin’ Cajuns scored twice in the fourth quarter to take the backdoor cover.

Texas (-8½) 19, Kansas State 14: Texas led 19-0 at halftime with the help of a 90-yard punt return touchdown. Kansas State managed to score on its opening possession out of halftime and then watched Texas miss a field goal late in the third quarter. It took 16 plays and two 4th down conversions but Kansas State went 70 yards for another touchdown to get within the underdog spread early in the fourth quarter. Texas wasn’t able to add points but they forced a 3-and-out on the last Kansas State possession and ended the game taking a knee at the Kansas State 20-yard-line.

Oklahoma State (-17) 48, Kansas 28: The Jayhawks trailed by 20 through three quarters but made a late charge with two touchdown drives in the final frame. Oklahoma State ultimately answered each time including a spread-saving touchdown with 2:38 remaining. On its final possession Kansas wound up losing five yards in four plays as they weren’t a threat to steal the underdog cover back late.

Middle Tennessee State (+3) 25, Florida Atlantic 24: The Owls led 24-10 late in the third quarter but a 19-yard punt handed the Blue Raiders good field position and Middle Tennessee State scored three plays later to take just a seven-point deficit into the fourth quarter. Florida Atlantic opted to go for it on a 4th down play just short of the 50 and came up short to shift the field position and after a pair of punts Middle Tennessee State had the ball back just inside FAU territory with almost four minutes remaining. With a 4th down conversion with about two minutes to go Middle Tennessee State faced 4th-and-goal in the final minute and delivered a rushing touchdown. Down one the Blue Raiders went for the win and got the two-point conversion to shake up the early Conference USA race and send Lane Kiffin and the Owls to 0-5 ATS.

Arizona State (-22) 52, Oregon State 24: The Sun Devils had just a 14-point lead well into the fourth quarter before scoring two touchdowns in the final 10 minutes. The first score came after Oregon State failed to score despite reaching the 1-yard-line and the second touchdown came after the Beavers again failed on 4th down in Arizona State territory. Oregon State fumbled near midfield on its final possession when a touchdown would have still flipped the spread result.

USC (-3½) 24, Arizona 20: USC led 24-0 into the third quarter before Arizona finally got on the scoreboard. Down 24-7 into the fourth quarter Arizona took advantage of a USC fumble, scoring on the next play to trail by only 10 with about 10 minutes remaining. USC again fumbled on the next possession but Arizona failed going for it on 4th-and-long past midfield with about six minutes to go. The Trojans opted to also try to pick a up a first down just outside field goal range with about four minutes remaining but came up short leaving the Wildcats in position for a potential backdoor cover. Arizona quickly reached the red zone with a pair of penalties helping the cause and had 1st-and-goal at the 1 to seemingly be in position to deliver a miracle for those on the underdog. It took until 4th down but Arizona did get a touchdown in the final two minutes but incredibly missed the extra-point, as most USC backers escaped holding on to the road favorite cover by a half point.

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