4th Quarter Covers – Week 13

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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 final 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.

Miami, OH (-14½) 42, Ball State 21: This Tuesday night game was tied at halftime as heavy favorite Miami scored two touchdowns in the final four minutes of the first half to erase a 21-7 deficit. Miami took over in the third quarter to lead by 14 on a spread that was as high as -17½ early in the week. In the fourth the Redhawks got past the number with a 95-yard touchdown drive to lead by 21 and then held off two late Ball State drives into Miami territory.

Iowa (-8½) 31, Nebraska 28: The spread on this game dived from -10 down to as low as -7½ and the halftime score was right in that range with a 21-13 Iowa edge. Iowa went up by 15 early in the third quarter but then was stopped going for it on 4th down at the Nebraska 3-yard-line to keep the Cornhuskers in the game. Nebraska completed a 98-yard touchdown drive to get back within eight and looked poised to get closer early in the fourth before an interception in Iowa territory. Iowa wasn’t able to extend the lead as a 37-yard field goal was missed and the Huskers went 80 yards to tie the game, successfully converting the two-point conversion. Iowa was able to methodically burn the remaining clock while giving kicker Miguel Recinos a shot at redemption and he hit from 41 yards for the Iowa win as time expired, though the underdog earned the cover.

Texas (-15) 24, Kansas 17: With a spot in the Big XII title game on the line Sam Ehlinger played for the Longhorns but it was a flat start with just a 7-0 edge at halftime. Texas was able to score twice late in the third quarter to get to 21-0 but Kansas wound up with 17 points in the fourth quarter including 10 points in the final four minutes to steal the underdog cover, though with just a 297-296 yardage edge for Texas as the Jayhawks deserved the close scoring result.

Central Florida (-14½) 38, South Florida 10: UCF took an early 17-0 lead but South Florida trimmed the margin to 17-10 late in the third quarter in a game where star Knights quarterback McKenzie Milton left with a serious leg injury. UCF would run the ball with great success and turned a 14-point edge at the start of the fourth quarter into a 38-10 final result.

Memphis (-10) 52, Houston 31: There were wild swings in this game as a 7-0 Houston edge early turned to a 17-7 deficit before Houston scored twice in two minutes late in the second quarter to lead 21-17 at the half. A back-and-forth game continued in the third quarter with the score knotted at 31-31 through three quarters. Houston posted three scoring drives in the fourth quarter leaning on Darrell Henderson while Houston’s final two drives ended stopped on downs and with an interception. The Tigers will head back to the AAC Championship game for a rematch with UCF while finishing well past the favorite spread that jumped from -7 to -10.

Virginia Tech (+5½) 34, Virginia 31: Looking to snap a long drought in this series the Cavaliers botched some early opportunities with a red zone fumble and then on an interception return at the end of the half, Tim Harris was caught by quarterback Ryan Willis short of the end zone as the Hokies kept a 14-0 edge at the break. Virginia would score touchdowns on four straight possessions to start the second half to lead 28-24 with seven minutes to go facing a spread that fluctuated in between -3½ and -5½. The Cavaliers then forced a fumble and an interception on the next two possessions for the Hokies, eventually adding a field goal to lead by seven with just over two minutes to go. Virginia Tech hit a 45-yard pass to get into the red zone and then on a rush approaching the end zone a forced fumble that would have effectively ended the game for the Cavaliers was recovered for a touchdown by the Hokies. In overtime Virginia Tech went first and didn’t gain a yard but hit the 42-yard field goal, leaving those laying the points with the Cavaliers in need of a second session. The Hokies came up big on defense forcing another turnover to keep bowl hopes alive while maintaining the winning streak in this rivalry.

Oklahoma (-3) 59, West Virginia 56: This game for a spot in the Big XII title game lived up to expectations with a high scoring back-and-forth affair. A defensive touchdown gave Oklahoma the early edge with a 35-28 halftime advantage but West Virginia tied the game early in the third quarter and had a 49-45 lead through three quarters. It would be defense that again delivered for Oklahoma with a 48-yard fumble return touchdown with 10 minutes to go for a 10-point edge. West Virginia climbed back within three to match the closing spread though most Sooners backers likely had a number below -3. Oklahoma picked up a 4th-and-5 conversion just past midfield and then got another first down to end the game with the three-point edge.

Clemson (-25½) 56, South Carolina 35: Highly ranked Clemson was tested in a back-and-forth first half vs. South Carolina with the Tigers eventually posting 744 yards but not exactly looking like a championship contender on defense with the Gamecocks also reaching 600 yards of offense. The Tigers led by just seven at halftime and by 21 through three quarters but a 98-yard touchdown drive put the Tigers up by 28 and past the favorite spread early in the third quarter. The Gamecocks scored the next 14 to get back within the number as a late Tigers touchdown wasn’t quite enough to get past the heavy favorite spread.

Marshall (-3½) 28, Florida International 25: The Herd led 14-0 early with the help of a interception return touchdown playing as a slight road favorite with a closing line of -3½ though most books opened with FIU as a slight favorite. Marshall scored on a blocked punt late in the third quarter to lead by 11 but early in the fourth the Panthers got a touchdown and a two-point conversion to trail by just three. Marshall answered with a four-minute drive to lead by 10 but FIU again scored to get back within three with about five minutes remaining. The Herd burned the remaining clock and got inside the 10-yard line of FIU but didn’t need to add points and took a knee for a common line push though the hook was added on Saturday for many.

Northwestern (-14½) 24, Illinois 16: With a championship game on deck Northwestern was sluggish early but two touchdowns in the final four minutes of the first half put the Wildcats up 21-6 and then a third quarter field goal made the margin 18 points on a spread that opened at 18 and dipped to 14½ by kickoff. Illinois would add 10 points in the fourth quarter in a game where the Illini had a production edge and actually had the ball inside the Northwestern 20-yard-line late with a potential chance to tie before an interception.

NC State (-7½) 34, North Carolina 28: These nearby rivals were tied 21-21 through three quarters and 28-28 late in the fourth quarter. NC State opted to punt across midfield in the final minute to play for overtime and the move paid off as the Tar Heels went first in overtime and missed a field goal. Much of the week the NC State was just -6 and that was the final margin with a Wolfpack rush into the end zone that preceded some spirited post-game activity in the end zone between the teams.

Liberty (-6) 28, New Mexico State 21: Liberty stormed out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter of this same-season rematch. New Mexico State would score on a kickoff return touchdown and an interception return touchdown to get back in the game before the end of the first quarter. Liberty moved ahead 28-14 by halftime facing a spread that dropped from -9 all the way to -6 by kickoff. With less than a minute to go the Aggies found the end zone on a 4th-and-goal play to land in the middle of the potential numbers.

Boise State (-2½) 33, Utah State 24: Boise State led 17-7 early as just a slight favorite at home with a spot in the Mountain West Championship on the line. Through three quarters the lead was trimmed to six points and Utah State hit a field goal early in the fourth to trail by three. Boise State scored halfway through the final frame after getting a red zone 4th down conversion but a bad snap cost the Broncos the PAT for just a nine-point advantage. A pair of punts followed but with about three minutes to go the Aggies connected for an 83-yard touchdown to suddenly trail by just two. The Aggies had converted a 4th-and-1 from their own 24-yard line and hit the big play on 2nd-and-25 after a pair of penalties for what looked like a miracle score for those getting the points with Utah State, with a two-point margin thanks to Boise missing on the PAT earlier in the quarter. A 59-yard run put Boise State inside the Utah State 10 in the final minute and eventually facing 4th down with only eight seconds to go the Broncos opted to go for it from the 1-yard-line rather than kicking a field goal. Both types of scores would have been enough for Broncos backers and Alexander Mattison made it a moot point by pounding into the end zone to secure the home favorite win and cover.

California (-11½) 33, Colorado 21: The Bears had a pair of touchdowns on interception returns in the first two minutes of the game and then added another short field score to lead 21-0 as Colorado’s hopes of making a bowl game were extinguished quickly. The Buffaloes kept things interesting relative to the spread however as they scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to cut the margin to just six points after trailing 24-7 at halftime. The Cal offense barely topped 200 yards in the game but converted a red zone 4th down via penalty and added a touchdown for a 12-point edge, failing going for two to sit right near the spread that opened at -11, reached as high as -12½, and closed at -11½. The Buffaloes would reach midfield on a late possession but didn’t add points for a 12-point final margin that led to mixed spread results.

Stanford (-7) 49, UCLA 42: The Cardinal extended its lead to 41-27 late in the third quarter but the Bruins added nine points late in the quarter with a safety and a subsequent kickoff return touchdown to make it a five-point game into the fourth quarter. The Bruins took a one-point edge with a 90-yard touchdown drive five minutes into the fourth quarter but didn’t get the conversion. A minute later Stanford hit a 52-yard pass for a touchdown and the Cardinal got the two-point attempt for a seven-point edge in a critical play with a spread that bounced between -6½ and -7 for the road favorite. UCLA missed a long field goal try on its next possession and was stopped on downs on two late drives in Stanford territory as the Cardinal escaped with the seven-point edge holding.

Texas A&M (-3) 74, LSU 72: The Aggies led by seven after the second and third quarters but a defensive score for LSU tied the game early in the fourth quarter. LSU would take a 31-24 lead in the final frame and then stopped the Aggies on 4th down in LSU territory with just over two minutes to go. LSU only burned a minute off the clock before punting and Aggies delivered a big finish surviving an interception that was overturned on review and then converting a 4th-and-18. One second was put back on the clock for Texas A&M after a Kellen Mond spike and he hit Quartney Davis for the tying touchdown. The game would eventually go to seven overtimes with some big conversions on both sides to reach a basketball level final score. In the seventh session LSU scored on just one play but didn’t get the two-pointer to lead by just six. The Aggies got the tying score and then got a pass interference call on the first two-point conversion try. The Aggies then had a false start but found the completion for the go-ahead conversion though it wasn’t quite enough for Aggies backers who crossed or reached the favorite number going first in the second, fourth, and sixth overtimes but couldn’t end the game on defense.

Notre Dame (-14) 24, USC 17: With all the pressure on Notre Dame as a heavy road favorite, USC led 10-0 early before the Irish got on the board just before halftime. Notre Dame was composed out of the break and scored 10 points to take a seven-point edge into the fourth quarter. On a spread that climbed from -8 to -14 Notre Dame made the margin 14 with a 51-yard passing touchdown with just over three minutes remaining to put most on the favorite in position to collect. USC didn’t fold however and on 3rd-and-10 in the final minute the Trojans hit a 20-yard strike to get back within the number.

Alabama (-26½) 52, Auburn 21: Alabama hasn’t had to do much 4th quarter scoring this season but after Auburn cut the margin to 10 points late in the third quarter Alabama turned it back on with three consecutive touchdowns on just eight offensive snaps to make it a 31-point margin with nine minutes to go in the game. Auburn gained some yardage late but wasn’t a serious backdoor threat late on two drives across midfield as the Iron Bowl wound up with a blowout final score and the heavy favorite snagging the cover.

UNLV (+14) 34, Nevada 29: The Wolf Pack led 23-0 early in this game but only took a 26-21 edge into halftime. UNLV kept the momentum and led through three quarters. A field goal put Nevada in front by one in the fourth quarter but with Armani Rogers back UNLV completed a late long drive to secure the upset while Nevada’s last threat ended with an interception.

Arizona State (-1) 41, Arizona 40: The Sun Devils opened as a 3-point favorite but the line dipped down to just -1 in this rivalry game with Arizona looking to earn a bowl spot. The line differences didn’t seem to matter with Arizona in front 40-21 through three quarters, missing on a two-point conversion tries when they were up 12 in both the second and third quarters. Those missed points came back to bite as Arizona State engineered a remarkable comeback with 20 points in the fourth quarter, with the final two scores following Arizona turnovers with the lead. After ASU went in front 41-40 with three minutes remaining, Khalil Tate led the Wildcats in position for a 45-yard field goal but the go-ahead kick was missed.