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4th Quarter Covers - Week 6

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NFL - Close Calls - Week 5

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 sixth big college football weekend to open October.

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.

Troy (-17) 37, Georgia State 20: Those backing the heavy favorite Thursday night felt good about a 23-0 lead not even 21 minutes into the game. Georgia State would manage two field goals while Troy was held off the board the rest of the second quarter and the entire third quarter as well, leaving the margin at 17 and even with the closing number. During the week the line dipped as low as -15½ however and Troy would pull away in the final frame with a pair of touchdowns surrounding the first touchdown of the game for Georgia State, leaving a 25-point margin with four minutes remaining. In the final two minutes, Georgia State completed a 70-yard touchdown drive and successfully converted for two to put the final margin right back on 17, with that late score bailing out those on the ‘over’ as well.

South Florida (-15½) 48, Massachusetts 42: The Bulls led by 20 entering the fourth quarter facing a road favorite spread that opened at -13½ and jumped as high as -16 before settling just below that by kickoff Saturday morning. Head Coach Mark Whipple was suspended for this game for the Minutemen and after a competitive first half, South Florida pulled away in the third quarter with three touchdowns in the span of five minutes. After a South Florida field goal with 10 minutes remaining in the game put the margin at 23 points, Massachusetts answered with a touchdown to trim the margin to 16 to match the spread for some. South Florida scored on an eight-yard drive following the fifth turnover of the game for Massachusetts but with 15 seconds remaining the Minutemen found the end zone to complete a long drive and finish down by 16.

Pittsburgh (+3) 44, Syracuse 37: With the help of a defensive score and a big run, Pittsburgh overcame an early 14-0 deficit to take a 20-17 halftime lead. The Panthers hit a big pass play just after halftime but from there Syracuse appeared to take over, scoring the next 17 points to lead by seven early in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh tied the game with about eight minutes remaining but Syracuse took the lead back with a 54-yard field goal from Andre Szmyt with about six minutes to go to lead by three, even with the closing spread though the Orange were favored by -3½ much of the week. As time expired, Pittsburgh hit a 45-yard field goal to force overtime. Going first, the Panthers got seven in overtime and then intercepted Eric Dungey on first down to seal the win.

NC State (-6) 28, Boston College 23: An opening line of -3½ quickly climbed with NC State closing at -6, though -6½ was hit at some outlets and -5½ was common ahead of the weekend. The differences didn’t seem likely to matter as the Wolfpack had a 28-3 lead late in the third quarter. The Eagles trimmed the margin to 18 points ahead of the start of the fourth and then scored again early in the fourth to trail by 12, failing on the two-point-conversion. Boston College was poised to score again but fumbled inside the 5-yard-line. It worked out however as a few plays later the Eagles blocked a NC State punt and recovered it for a touchdown with just over three minutes remaining to cut the margin to five points, which was enough to flip the spread result for many.

Florida (+1) 27, LSU 19: The Gators led 14-10 at the half but LSU would take the lead with a field goal in the third quarter and a touchdown early in the fourth, failing going for two to lead 19-14 as a slight road favorite with a line that hit -3 early in the week but was steady at -2½ before dipping to -1 on Saturday. Florida answered going 75 yards in just over two minutes but also failed going for two to lead by just one. Both teams gained yardage on late possessions but needed to punt, leaving LSU with two minutes remaining but stuck on its own 12-yard-line. On third down, Joe Burrow was intercepted with Brad Stewart taking it to the house to put Florida up eight for a big win for the SEC East.

South Carolina (-1) 37, Missouri 35: The Gamecocks opened at -2 and climbed to -2½ early in the week. The line eventually flipped and then flipped back and flipped back again before eventually closing with the Gamecocks as the slight favorite Saturday even with quarterback Jake Bentley ruled out. Missouri settled for a pair of short field goals just before halftime to only extend its lead to 23-14 and South Carolina took over in the third quarter. The Gamecocks shutout Missouri 17-0 in the third including getting an interception return touchdown to lead by eight heading into the fourth quarter. Missouri got within two early in the fourth quarter and failed on the conversion but took the lead a few minutes later with a field goal, leading by one. That margin held after an exchange of late field goals including Missouri kicker Tucker McCann hitting from 57 with just over a minute to go. The Tigers couldn’t hold on as South Carolina went over 50 yards in nine plays to hit a game-winning field goal for a two-point win.

Michigan (-18) 42, Maryland 21: The box score looked like a 21-point win as Michigan more than doubled Maryland’s yardage production. The Terrapins had an early kickoff return touchdown however and hung around until Michigan scored late in the third quarter to lead 27-7. Maryland delivered a 15-play touchdown drive to trail by only 13 and that margin looked like it could hold. Michigan would score two touchdowns in just over two minutes late in the game with the second score a 46-yard interception return to blow the game open as a late Maryland touchdown wasn’t enough to get back within the number.

Western Michigan (-4½) 27, Eastern Michigan 24: It is no surprise that Eastern Michigan found itself in another tight game and the Eagles led 17-14 through three quarters as a slight underdog. Western Michigan took over in the fourth with back-to-back touchdowns to lead by 10, with an extra point blocked on the second score. Eastern Michigan missed a 32-yard field goal with about three minutes remaining but forced a punt on defense and wound up spoiling the favorite cover with a fourth-and-8 touchdown with 20 seconds remaining.

Colorado (-2½) 28, Arizona State 21: The Buffaloes led by seven through three quarters and that lead would hold. Arizona State was on the doorstep early in the fourth, opting to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 3 early in the final frame and ending with an incomplete pass. Colorado didn’t add points the rest of the way but burned clock on two substantial drives surrounding an ASU punt to move to 5-0 while getting the home favorite cover.

Alabama (-34½) 65, Arkansas 31: The Tide led 41-14 at the half but there was late drama regarding the five-touchdown road favorite spread. Arkansas connected on a late third quarter field goal to trail by 31 and the Tide made it a 58-17 edge early in the fourth quarter after an interception return touchdown. Arkansas would answer to trail by 34 but Alabama went 72 yards while burning seven minutes of clock to lead by 41 with fewer than two minutes remaining. A 78-yard kickoff return put Arkansas in position to score late and the Razorbacks eventually did run into the end zone with 13 seconds to go, with the extra-point giving the underdog the narrow cover.

Toledo (-23) 52, Bowling Green 36: Winless ATS on the season, Bowling Green fell behind 17-0 eight minutes into this game but battled back to trail only 24-21 at the half. After an exchange of scores in the third quarter, Bowling Green wasn’t thinking about covering, they had sights on the upset. Toledo would score three touchdowns in the span of about six minutes in the middle of the fourth quarter to lead by 24, but Bowling Green went 75 yards in three plays in the final minutes to earn the win for the underdog with the Falcons even posting a slight yardage edge in the game.

Texas (+7) 48, Oklahoma 45: The Longhorns led most of the way and took complete control in the third quarter to lead the Red River Rivalry 45-24 heading into the fourth quarter. The Sooners have been able to score quickly all year and in stunning fashion tied the game in just six minutes of game clock with a total of 10 offensive plays resulting in three touchdown drives. Overtime was a scary thought even for those that had Texas +7½, but the Longhorns engineered a steady drive, going 52 yards in nine plays to line up a 40-yard game-winning field goal.

Baylor (-3½) 37, Kansas State 34: Baylor led by six heading into the fourth quarter but Kansas State scored two touchdowns early in the final frame to lead by seven with one of the extra-point attempts missing. Baylor would score two touchdowns in two minutes to go back up by seven but Kansas State answered with a five-play touchdown drive to tie the game with just over four minutes remaining. Baylor would deliver the game-winning drive but they settled for three with eight seconds remaining to fall short of the favorite spread.

Florida Atlantic (-14) 52, Old Dominion 33: The Owls entered this game 0-5 ATS but led 26-7 at halftime. Old Dominion made a late charge closing to within five points early in the fourth quarter. Florida Atlantic dominated on the ground and quickly turned in a pair of rushing touchdowns to lead by 19 with about seven minutes remaining. Old Dominion delivered a 74-yard touchdown drive in just over two minutes to trail by just 13 to get back within the number. Florida Atlantic kept it on the ground but Devin Singletary broke free for a 44-yard touchdown run as the Owls took a 19-point edge and held off a late threat from the Monarchs.

Memphis (-36) 55, Connecticut 14: Memphis led by just 34 through three quarters but managed a late score with reserves in the game to push the final margin to 41 points, posting 634 yards and getting a 4-0 turnover edge, though Connecticut had 327 yards in the game despite only 14 points.

Wisconsin (-18) 41, Nebraska 24: The Badgers led 20-3 at the half and 34-17 heading into the fourth quarter. Wisconsin briefly got past that 17-point margin in the fourth quarter after an 88-yard run from Jonathan Taylor, but Nebraska went 95 yards on the next drive to climb back within 17. Wisconsin lost a fumble on in next possession but Nebraska couldn’t take advantage, going for it on fourth down outside of field goal range and coming up short. Wisconsin won by 17 despite only out-gaining Nebraska by 15 yards as the Huskers did enough for a narrow underdog cover.

Texas A&M (-5½) 20, Kentucky 14: The Aggies dominated the statistics with a more than 2-to-1 yardage edge but these teams were locked in a stalemate into the fourth quarter knotted at 7-7 in a game that featured 15 combined punts. A big punt return sparked the Aggies to good field position and with about 10 minutes remaining Texas A&M hit a big play with a 46-yard touchdown to go up by seven, past a favorite spread that bounced around between -4½ and -5½ during the week though opening at -6 or even -6½. The Aggies held firm on defense with the lead but disaster struck with four minutes remaining as Kellen Mond lost yardage on a third-and-1 play and fumbled with the ball scooped up for a 40-yard return to tie the game. Neither squad was aggressive in the final minutes as overtime was needed. The Aggies again delivered on defense with a big third down sack and the 43-yard field goal attempt for Kentucky was missed. The Aggies ran for nine yards on first down and presumably would play for a game-winning field goal but instead picked up a first down. Then on second-and-6 from the 10-yard-line, Trayveon Williams broke a tackle and flipped into the end zone to narrowly get the touchdown and score a narrow cover for the Aggies.

UCF (-26) 48, SMU 20: The Knights led by 21 through three quarters but broke a pair of 30-yard touchdowns in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter to lead by 35, with those touchdowns in-between a red zone failure for SMU. The Mustangs converted a pair of fourth downs on the way to a late touchdown but UCF held on for another win and heavy favorite cover.

Fresno State (-16½) 21, Nevada 3: Fresno State led just 7-3 at halftime but took advantage of a short field for a third quarter score to get up by 11. In the fourth Fresno State added another seven points to narrowly win and cover despite posting only 271 yards in Reno.

Washington State (-18½) 56, Oregon State 37: The Beavers led 30-28 well into the third quarter as Washington State’s perfect ATS season seemed set to end. The Cougars took the lead by the start of the fourth quarter and then scored a pair of early touchdowns on quick drives to lead by 19 with nine minutes to go, slipping past the hefty road favorite spread with those scores coming in-between Oregon State fumbling inside the Washington State 5-yard-line. The Beavers reached the Washington State 23-yard-line on its next possession but lost yardage with a fumble and then had three consecutive penalties to ultimately need to punt facing 4th-and-54. Washington State answered with another touchdown as a late Beavers touchdown wouldn’t be enough as the Cougars snuck out a fortunate cover in a very competitive game statistically.

Colorado State (-3) 42, San Jose State 30: The Rams led 28-0 at halftime but San Jose State incredibly outscored Colorado State 30-0 in the third quarter to take a two-point lead as a slight home underdog. The Rams would break the run with an 83-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter to lead by five and a few minutes later took an interception 55 yards for a touchdown to seal the win with the next San Jose State drive also ending in an interception.

Hawai’i (+4) 17, Wyoming 13: The Warriors were favored by -3 or -3½ most of the week before trickling the other way Saturday evening and eventually flipping to Wyoming being favored as it was learned that Cole McDonald wouldn’t be playing. It was a 10-10 tie through three quarters with a 61-yard interception return the biggest play for Wyoming. Wyoming settled for a 23-yard field goal with about five minutes remaining but led by freshman Chevan Cordeiro, Hawai’i connected for a 38-yard touchdown in the final two minutes and got the late stop with Wyoming approaching the red zone in the final seconds.

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