Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:01 AM

4th Quarter Covers - Week 12

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NFL Close Calls - Week 11

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 12th 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.

North Texas (-4½) 41, Florida Atlantic 38: In a rematch of last season’s Conference USA championship game, North Texas stormed out to a 17-0 lead as a slight favorite that climbed from -2½ to -4½. The Owls battled back to take a 21-20 lead in the second quarter and led 24-20 early in the third quarter with scoring drives of 29 and 22 yards following rare Mason Fine interceptions. North Texas posted back-to-back touchdowns to go up by 10 but Florida Atlantic climbed back within three by the start of the fourth quarter. The Owls would miss a potential tying field goal later in the fourth quarter and then with about four minutes remaining, DeAndre Torrey broke loose for a 92-yard touchdown run to put the Mean Green up by 10. The lead didn’t last as in three plays plus a personal foul Florida Atlantic went 73 yards to trail by only three. North Texas had to punt the ball back in the final minutes but sealed the game with an interception, though it wasn’t quite enough for most on the home favorite.

Memphis (-8) 28, SMU 18: With a total of 75 fireworks were expected Friday night in this AAC West showdown. Offense didn’t materialize until late however as Memphis led 7-5 at halftime and 14-12 through three quarters. Memphis pulled ahead 21-12 early in the fourth and then put the game away with another 4th quarter score to lead by 16. SMU went 75 yards in five plays to get back within 10 and had the ball back in the final minutes. SMU crossed midfield but a pair of penalties and a sack forced the Mustangs to go for it on 4th-and-38 on their final play.

Boise State (-22) 45, New Mexico 14: The Broncos scored on a fumble return and added a field goal before halftime to turn a 14-7 edge into a 24-7 advantage. Boise State was up 31-7 through three quarters to sit just past the road favorite spread but New Mexico got on the board with an 86-yard punt return touchdown. The third turnover of the day for New Mexico handed Boise State a short field and the Broncos slipped past the favorite spread with a 41-yard touchdown run and for good measure the Broncos added another touchdown with just over a minute remaining.

Wisconsin (+3½) 47, Purdue 44: Purdue led by 11 heading into the fourth quarter and pulled ahead by 14 with a field goal with 10 minutes remaining. The Badgers put together a touchdown drive to trail by seven with fewer than seven minutes remaining and the defense stepped up to force a 3-and-out. Jonathan Taylor picked up 35 yards on 1st down and Jack Coan delivered three completions as Wisconsin tied the game with fewer than three minutes remaining. Purdue got 35 yards on first down but stalled at the Wisconsin 40 and opted to punt and Wisconsin was able to avoid disaster pinned deep managing to get into overtime. Both teams scored touchdowns quickly in the first two sessions but Purdue was held to a field goal going first in round three. A pair of Taylor runs completed the comeback for the Badgers with a huge day for the nation’s leading rusher.

Georgia (-42) 66, Massachusetts 27: The Bulldogs had 42 points by halftime and led 59-13 late in the third quarter. Massachusetts hit a big play as time expired in the third to take a 39-point deficit in the final frame. Georgia added an early touchdown to get past the heavy favorite spread again but UMass answered and Georgia methodically burned nearly nine minutes of game clock to complete the win without giving the ball back though they also failed to add points, falling just short of the massive number.

Kentucky (-15) 34, Middle Tennessee State 23: The Wildcats were past the spread in the first quarter with a 17-0 edge and led 31-10 late in the third quarter before a Middle Tennessee State touchdown put the margin right on the number as the Blue Raiders missed the PAT. Middle Tennessee State would get within a single-score with an early touchdown in the fourth quarter to trim Kentucky’s lead to eight but the Wildcats added a field goal to lead by 11 with four minutes remaining, though it wasn’t enough to cover and the Blue Raiders were a much bigger threat to add late points, reaching the Kentucky 5-yard-line in the final minute.

Wyoming (-3) 35, Air Force 27: After a tight first half Air Force took control of this game with a 10-point lead through three quarters, and that lead was extended to 14 points after a short field goal with about nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Wyoming would complete a long drive with 4:32 to play to close to within six and the defense forced a 3-and-out. With a big 4th down conversion in their own territory the Cowboys eventually connected for a 22-yard touchdown pass with just over a minute remaining, taking a one-point lead that wasn’t quite enough for the favorite spread of -2½, eventually even closing at -3 at some outlets. Air Force threw a 1st down interception and Wyoming would add a late touchdown run on the short field for the improbable favorite cover.

Appalachian State (-27) 45, Georgia State 17: The Panthers hit a 52-yard field goal late in the third quarter to trail by only 21 but the Mountaineers scored two touchdowns in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter to lead by 35. Appalachian State was still ahead of the number after a Georgia State touchdown with eight minutes to go and they didn’t give the ball back with a 13-play drive to run out the clock.

Oklahoma State (+6) 45, West Virginia 41: With a lot of attention on the home finale with Oklahoma, West Virginia was in control in Stillwater up 31-14 at halftime and still leading by 10 halfway through the fourth quarter. The Cowboys trimmed the margin to three just after the five-minute mark and the Mountaineers stalled near midfield with a false start penalty making it 4th-and-11 and necessitating a punt. With more than two minutes remaining the Cowboys went 75 yards in seven plays to take the lead with 42 seconds to go. Will Grier led the Mountaineers to the red zone and had one final shot with one second remaining from the 14-yard-line but the pass was broken up to shake up the Big XII standings.

Southern Miss (-2) 21, Louisiana Tech 20: The Bulldogs led 17-14 at the half before a scoreless third quarter. Louisiana Tech added a short field goal early in the fourth to lead by six, closing as a 2-point underdog but actually favored most of the week until flipping on Saturday. With Jack Abraham back at quarterback Southern Miss went 85 yards in 14 plays to take more than seven minutes off the clock, taking a one-point lead with six minutes to go. Louisiana Tech crossed midfield on its final possession but opted to punt on 4th-and-10 and didn’t get the ball back as Southern Miss burned the final four minutes for the one-point win, with mixed spread results depending on the timing.

Florida State (+3) 22, Boston College 21: Boston College led by one through three quarters and seemingly was in control after an 18-play drive put the Eagles up by eight early in the fourth quarter, closing as a 3-point favorite in Tallahassee, though early in the week the line flipped back-and-forth between -1 on either side. Florida State managed a field goal to close to within five with 12 minutes remaining and the defense forced consecutive Boston College punts. Getting the ball back with two and a half minutes to go the Seminoles picked up a first down then connected for a huge play, striking for a 74-yard touchdown. Up one, Florida State went for two and failed as the one-point edge would prove to be the final margin.

Nebraska (-2) 9, Michigan State 6: The Huskers flipped to the favorite role Friday night and failed to score until the fourth quarter. Michigan State had a 6-0 edge in windy conditions in Lincoln. One of several unsportsmanlike penalties in a testy game gave the Huskers good field position after the kickoff and with a 35-yard gain on 1st down, Nebraska was able to get on the board with a field goal. Michigan State fumbled a few plays later and suddenly Nebraska had tied the game 6-6 with eight minutes to go after being unable to find the end zone despite 1st-and-goal from the 2-yard-line. Kicking into the wind Michigan State had a marginal 3-and-out and punt as Nebraska had good field position again and despite gaining only 23 yards, the Huskers went in front with a 47-yard kick from Barret Pickering. The Spartans gained yardage on its final two possessions but had their final threat end on downs on the Nebraska 29-yard-line as the Huskers picked up a narrow comeback win.

UCLA (+3) 34, USC 27: USC led 27-21 through three quarters at the Rose Bowl after settling for a 22-yard field goal. After an exchange of punts, the Bruins were buried at their own 3-yard-line early in the fourth quarter but eventually took the lead thanks to a 55-yard run from Joshua Kelley. JT Daniels was picked off on the next snap for USC but the Trojans stayed in the game as UCLA had to settle for a 19-yard field goal for a four-point edge. The Bruins had a quick 3-and-out however and UCLA added another three points to lead by seven. USC was a threat to force overtime reaching the UCLA 29-yard-line in the final minute but the Bruins defense held on.

Clemson (-29½) 35, Duke 6: The Blue Devils provided an early scare with a 6-0 lead but Clemson scored just before halftime to make a 14-6 advantage. The Tigers would add two third quarter touchdowns and early in the fourth quarter Clemson went up 35-6 for a 29-point margin on a spread that opened at -27 and reached as high as -29½.

Oregon (-3½) 31, Arizona State 29: The Ducks led 28-13 at halftime and wound up with a substantial production edge late Saturday night. Arizona State chipped away with a third quarter field goal and then got a short field touchdown following a muffed punt, one of four Oregon turnovers on the day. That put the Sun Devils within five but Oregon was able to add a field goal to push the lead up to eight points. Arizona State converted a big late 4th down and wound up in the end zone with about four minutes to go. The Sun Devils had to go for two and the tie but couldn’t convert. Oregon threw an interception near midfield to give the Sun Devils another shot. Arizona State couldn’t take advantage as they fumbled on a third down sack and Oregon was able to run out the clock for the win but failed cover with the late melt.

Vanderbilt (-3) 36, Mississippi 29: The Commodores led by seven through three quarters but Mississippi rallied late and wound up tying the game with 40 seconds remaining in a game the Rebels had a substantial yardage edge in. Vanderbilt needed only three plays to score a touchdown in overtime but the Commodores gave Ole Miss a big gain on first down with a penalty. The Rebels couldn’t deliver however ending the game with three straight incomplete passes.

Hawai’i (-7) 35, UNLV 28: The Warriors fell behind 21-3 hosting UNLV but battled to within eight by the start of the fourth quarter. UNLV scored early in the fourth on a short field drive to lead by 15 but Hawai’i eventually responded with a 64-yard touchdown pass, plus the two-point conversion to trail by seven. Up seven halfway through the final quarter UNLV aggressively went for it on 4th-and-1 just across midfield and came up short, giving the Hawai’i the opportunity to tie the game with about four minutes to go. The Warriors forced a punt and hit another big play to suddenly go in front by seven on a spread that fluctuated between -6½ and -7.

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