4th Quarter Covers - Week 9

4th Quarter Covers - Week 9

4th Quarter Covers - Week 9
By Joe Nelson

Glancing at the scoreboard won't tell you the whole story in most games. Here are the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in college football. 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, get the details in this weekly column.

Louisville (-3½) 34, Cincinnati 31 (53): The Bearcats led by 10 deep into the third quarter, but there was great late drama in this Friday night Big East clash. Louisville tied the game early in the fourth quarter and then late in the game, the Cardinals connected on a 64-yard pass play for the go-ahead score with less than two minutes to go. While both offenses stalled in the second half, Cincinnati needed just three plays to connect for a touchdown to tie the game, perhaps leaving too much time for Louisville. The Bearcats stood tall on defense, getting a huge sack and then a holding penalty put the Cardinals in a deep hole, forcing overtime. Cincinnati got the ball first, but Munchie Legaux threw an interception in the end zone, allowing Louisville to win with any score. The weather conditions were not favorable for kicking, but Louisville conservatively kept the ball on the ground and settled for the field goal, giving Cincinnati the narrow underdog cover. The late flurry in the final two minutes also pushed the game 'over' the total.

Boston College (-2½) 20, Maryland 17 (46): Boston College led 13-0 early in this game, seeking its first ACC win. Maryland stormed back and the lead was cut to just three points entering the fourth quarter. This line was below three most of the week, but did climb to three for a time. Maryland scored on a 66-yard pass play midway through the fourth quarter to grab the lead for the first time in the game, but the Eagles eventually had an answer, finding the end zone with less than a minute to go for the win and narrow cover for many.

Colorado State (-6½) 42, Hawaii 27 (51½):
Colorado State led by seven at halftime, but after two Hawaii field goals, this was a one-point game entering the fourth quarter. Turnovers were frequent in this game with five turnovers on each side and in the fourth, the Rams put the game away with two interceptions returned for touchdowns, getting the win and cover despite being outgained by over 100 yards.
Michigan State (+5) 16, Wisconsin 13 (40½): This Big Ten clash featured excellent defense, but while Wisconsin did not move the ball effectively, rushing for just 19 net yards in the game, the Badgers seemed in control most of the way. After a scoreless third quarter, the Badgers got past the spread to lead, 10-3 with about six minutes to go and Michigan State showed no signs of breaking out. With the game on the line, the Spartans came up big on offense with a great drive to tie the game with about a minute to go. In overtime, Wisconsin had to settle for a field goal and Michigan State was able to connect for a touchdown and the upset.

North Carolina (-7½) 43, N.C. State 35 (54½): This was a game of streaks as North Carolina stormed out to a 25-7 lead in the first quarter. N.C. State scored the next four touchdowns as North Carolina did not score in the middle two quarters and the underdog Wolfpack took a 35-25 lead into the fourth quarter. The Tar Heels were not done, however, as they got back within three early in the fourth and then tied the game with just over a minute to go. After a defensive stand, N.C. State was forced to punt and Giovani Bernard returned the kick 74 yards for a game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds to go. Incredibly, the extra-point try was botched but holder Thomas Hibbard managed to get the ball off to Jack Tabb for a successful conversion, leaving the final margin at eight and providing one of the worst beats ever if you were on N.C. State and a very lucky win for those on the Tar Heels.

Houston (-14½) 45, UTEP 35 (63½): Houston led this game, 45-7 late in the third quarter, but the defense certainly let up and the UTEP offense that used three quarterbacks and had four players complete passes found some life. A trick play started the rally as wide receiver Jim Jones tossed a 42-yard touchdown pass late in the 3rd quarter to cut the margin to 31 points, still more than double the spread. UTEP would go on to score three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, stealing the cover with the last touchdown coming with about four minutes to go.

Missouri (-14) 33, Kentucky 10 (48½): Missouri eventually pulled away in this game, but the Tigers did lead by just 20-10 entering the fourth quarter. Kentucky had just 179 total yards in the game and Missouri got past the spread less than a minute into the final frame, later adding a defensive touchdown to pad the numbers.

Syracuse (+3) 37, South Florida 36 (53½): USF led 23-3 at the half in this game, a game where the spread dropped all week from an opening number of -6. Syracuse scored three touchdowns in the span of about six minutes of game clock in the third quarter, taking a one-point lead before the Bulls hit a field goal to lead by two entering the fourth quarter. There was an exchange of scores in the fourth and USF took a five-point lead with just over a minute to go with a long field goal. There was too much time left, as Syracuse eventually hit the game-winning touchdown with just seconds to go.

Toledo (-7½) 25, Buffalo 20 (61): The Bulls led at halftime 14-7 with touchdowns from both teams coming on defense. The Rockets took off in the third with three touchdowns, oddly failing on all three extra-point kicks however, to take a 25-14 lead into the fourth quarter. Buffalo scored early in the fourth to get back within the spread and neither team scored again.

South Carolina (-14) 38, Tennessee 35 (55): In a game marred by the emotional toll around Marcus Lattimore's severe leg injury, South Carolina still took a 35-21 lead into the fourth quarter, right even with the spread. Tennessee would make it close in the final frame with two touchdowns and after a Gamecocks fumble, the Volunteers were on the edge of field goal range before a fumble prevented the chance to tie or take the lead.

SMU (-21½) 44, Memphis 13 (47½): SMU only led 16-13 late in the third quarter in this game before the flood gates opened. The Mustangs had a massive yardage edge in the game and poured on three additional fourth quarter touchdowns to pull away and create a somewhat misleading final, although Memphis struggled most of the game.

Fresno State (-15) 49, New Mexico 32 (55): The Lobos (+15) looked like a great bet early leading, 21-0 in the second quarter. Fresno State would get on the board, but New Mexico still led 24-14 at halftime. The lead disappeared quickly in the third quarter as the Bulldogs hit a few big plays and had a 35-24 lead entering the fourth quarter. New Mexico would score last with a touchdown in the final minute, but it was not enough to recover from 42 straight points from Fresno State, pulling out the win and narrow cover.

Western Kentucky (-6) 14, Florida International 6 (51½): This was a 7-3 game after the first quarter and that was still the score almost halfway through the fourth quarter. FIU added a field goal to get within one point, but Western Kentucky sealed the game with just over a minute to go with a touchdown to get past the spread. The Golden Panthers made things interesting in the final minute, getting down to the Western Kentucky 21, but FIU eventually ran out of time.

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