4th Quarter Covers – Week 8

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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 eighth big college football weekend in late 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.

Air Force (-9½) 41, UNLV 35: UNLV led 21-20 at halftime but Air Force took over in the third quarter with three touchdown drives in the span of just over five minutes of game clock. The Rebels scored late in the third quarter to get back within 13 facing an underdog spread that fell from +11 down to +9½. Air Force fumbled on its first two possessions of the fourth quarter and while UNLV missed a field goal after the first turnover, the Rebels added seven halfway through the fourth quarter to close to within six points. The Rebels were a threat for the upset but failed on 4th down after reaching the Air Force 28-yard-line late in the game. Air Force reached the UNLV 24-yard-line in the final seconds but didn’t add points as the underdog Rebels covered Friday night.

Temple (-2½) 24, Cincinnati 17: Temple got off to a fast start vs. undefeated Cincinnati with a 10-0 edge only six minutes into the game. The Bearcats took over from there taking a 17-10 edge into the fourth quarter. Following back-to-back interceptions, Temple got one last shot getting the ball back with just over two minutes remaining and made the most of it as Anthony Russo delivered a touchdown drive, tying the game with 49 seconds remaining. The Owls kept the momentum going first in overtime and needing only three plays to get seven. Cincinnati picked up 11 yards on first down looking to extend the game but went backwards from there with a fumble and a penalty. Facing 3rd-and-long, Desmond Ridder was intercepted as the Owls stole the win and got a very fortunate cover on a line that was -3½ most of the week.

Army (-6½) 31, Miami, OH 30: Army led 21-7 through three quarters but Miami managed to tie the game with two touchdown drives in the final five minutes, scoring the second tying touchdown with just 17 seconds remaining. In the first overtime field goals were exchanged. Army gave favorite backers a glimmer of hope to re-gain the cover with a quick touchdown leading off the second overtime going up by seven. Army had Miami down to 4th-and-15 but the Redhawks hit for an 18-yard touchdown. Miami opted to go for two and came up short but it was enough for the underdog to cover the spread. It was a tough luck result for those on the ‘under’ closing at 47 with just 28 points combined 55 minutes into the game and the ‘under’ still holding on at the end of regulation.

Michigan (-7½) 21, Michigan State 7: A lengthy early weather delay robbed Michigan State of some early momentum but they got a big turnover in the third quarter to knot the game at 7-7. Late in the third Michigan hit the only big offensive play of the game with a 79-yard score for Donovan Peoples-Jones but Michigan led just 14-7 well into the fourth quarter laying -7 or -7½ in East Lansing. The Wolverines converted a big 4th down just across midfield and eventually added another touchdown with about 10 minutes to go. Michigan State was soundly out-gained but still had a good shot to get back within seven, reaching the Michigan 24-yard-line with just under two minutes remaining. Back-to-back sacks ended the threat as the Wolverines ended their decade-long ATS skid in this series.

Buffalo (+3) 31, Toledo 17: Initially dogged and then moving to a favorite role, Buffalo closed back as the slight underdog in this key MAC battle. Buffalo had a massive production edge but trailed 17-7 at halftime. The Bulls tied the game by the start of the third quarter and added two fourth quarter touchdowns to pull away, moving to 4-0 as the leader in the MAC East.

Wisconsin (-24) 49, Illinois 20: With October snow in Madison this was a sloppy Big Ten contest with seven combined turnovers. Illinois scored first in the second half to trail by only 11 but the Badgers pushed the advantage to 25 points by the end of the third quarter. An Illinois field goal put the underdog briefly in position to cash but the Badgers finished an 86-yard drive later in the quarter to create the 29-point final margin.

Utah State (-13) 24, Wyoming 16: On contrasting six-game ATS streaks, Utah State appeared to be in line to keep its perfect spread season alive as a 99-yard kickoff return touchdown put the Aggies up 24-6 late in the third quarter. Nico Evans broke a long run for Wyoming to close to within 11 however and the Cowboys got within a single-score with a fourth quarter field goal. Utah State was not a threat to add late points in a game they finished with only 194 total yards, as Wyoming did enough for the home underdog cover.

Houston (-11) 49, Navy 36: The Cougars were as high as a 13-point favorite early in the week and an upset looked possible as Navy led 24-14 late in the second quarter. A quick touchdown put Houston within three by halftime and the Cougars wound up with a pair of late third quarter scores to lead by 11 entering the fourth, even with the closing number. Houston would pull away in the middle of the fourth with two more scores, the second coming on an interception return touchdown to lead by 25 with only six minutes remaining. Navy would wind up with two touchdowns in the final two minutes but both times they went for two and failed, leaving points off the board as Houston escaped with a narrow road favorite cover for most.

Washington (-18½) 27, Colorado 13: The Huskies led only 14-13 at the half but Colorado wouldn’t score again in this rematch of the 2016 Pac-12 title game. Washington settled for a field goal in the third quarter to lead by four and appeared set to add seven more but fumbled through the end zone for a touchback early in the fourth. Washington kept favorite cover hopes alive on a spread that grew from -15½ to -18½ by getting a 4th down touchdown with four minutes to go to lead by 11. An interception gave the Huskies the ball right back in the red zone but Washington had to settle for a short field goal. After Colorado failed on downs on its own 12-yard-line the Huskies ended the game on the door step but was able to take a knee as the Buffaloes held the underdog cover.

Akron (-5) 24, Kent State 23: This MAC rivalry was knotted at 17-17 through three quarters and neither team wound up scoring in the fourth as regulation ended with nine consecutive punts. Akron went first in overtime and got a roughing the passer penalty on first down. Two plays later the Zips were up by seven, just past the road favorite spread. Kent State connected for a 29-yard touchdown on 2nd down and went for the win, coming up just short but getting the underdog cover.

Penn State (-14) 33, Indiana 28: This was a tight game with Indiana posting significantly more yardage. Penn State broke through with consecutive touchdowns in the third quarter to lead by 12 with an extra-point blocked. The Hoosiers fumbled to give Penn State the ball back but the drive stalled just outside of field goal range. Indiana had an interception on its next drive but the Lions couldn’t add points to get past the favorite spread. Indiana wound up in position to be a late upset threat scoring in the final minute and then recovering the on-side kick but didn’t get close enough for a shot at the end zone in the final seconds.

UL-Monroe (-11) 20, Texas State 14: The Warhawks led 20-7 heading into the fourth quarter and had the ball back after Texas State missed a field goal. Near midfield UL-Monroe fumbled and set-up Texas State for a short field drive, where they scored a touchdown to trim the margin to six points with seven minutes to go.

UCF (-21½) 37, East Carolina 10: The hefty underdog Pirates moved the ball with ease, soundly out-gaining highly ranked UCF with nearly 500 yards of offense. East Carolina lost the turnover battle 5-0 however to wind up losing by 27. Into the fourth quarter East Carolina trailed by just 13 and was set to make it a one-score game with about 10 minutes remaining, reaching the 1-yard-line. Holton Ahlers fumbled and it was returned all the way for a Knights touchdown for a 14-point swing putting UCF up by 20. East Carolina went 69 yards in five plays before fumbling again inside the 10, setting up another Knights touchdown to push the margin past the road favorite spread. In the final minutes East Carolina had 1st-and-goal at the 3-yard-line before ultimately failing on four tries to get in the end zone as UCF somehow won and covered the massive spread without McKenzie Milton in a game with a box score that didn’t fit the outcome as the hefty underdog had big production advantages.

Southern Miss (-16) 27, Texas-San Antonio 17: Southern Miss led 27-3 at one point int his game, a contest they compiled a 487-174 yardage advantage. Turnovers kept points off the board however and in the fourth quarter Texas San Antonio delivered a defensive touchdown to cut the margin to 10 points.

UAB (-2½) 29, North Texas 21: The Mean Green led 21-10 at the half but UAB chipped away and trailed by just two heading into the fourth quarter. In the first minute of the final frame the Blazers completed a touchdown drive to lead by five and then later caught a big break with a North Texas fumble inside the 10-yard line. UAB would put together a long drive to add a field goal with two minutes remaining and held off a late threat from North Texas.

SMU (+9½) 27, Tulane 23: The spread on this game climbed dramatically on Saturday as Tulane was just -7 much of the week. They were past the early week numbers with a 23-14 lead early in the fourth quarter but SMU answered with a quick touchdown drive to climb within two. SMU wasn’t able to take advantage of a fourth quarter fumble for the Wave but had one big play left with a 67-yard touchdown pass with just over a minute remaining for the win. Tulane reached midfield before fumbling on its final possession.

Old Dominion (+3½) 37, Western Kentucky 34: The Hilltoppers led 27-19 heading into the fourth quarter to sit past the small favorite spread. There was no scoring in the first nine minutes of the fourth before a wild finish. Old Dominion scored a touchdown and got the two-point conversion to tie the game with just over five minutes remaining but Western Kentucky eventually went back in front by seven with just over a minute left on the clock. Old Dominion managed to go 69 yards in just over a minute to tie the game with nine seconds remaining, presumably forcing overtime. After the kickoff, Western Kentucky got 15 yards on first down and with two seconds remaining near midfield they didn’t settle for overtime, attempting a hook & ladder play that fell incomplete. Roughing the passer was called on the play however, leading to an untimed down. The Hilltoppers opted for a long field goal try of around 57 yards which fell short but Old Dominion was hit with too many men on the field. Five yards closer Western Kentucky tried the kick again and again fell short with the Monarchs having a returner in place fielding the kick this time around and Isaiah Harper nearly went the distance for a miraculous win but was knocked out of bounds near the 15-yard-line. On that tackle from a desperate offensive lineman, a facemask penalty gave the Monarchs an untimed down and they hit the short 26-yard field goal for one of the more incredible finishes to a game, ultimately getting 10 points in nine seconds of game clock. Old Dominion may be just 2-6 this season but they have two of the most memorable wins of the season.