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by Ben Burns - 11/01/2008
Ohio at Temple
Time had barely expired in the fourth quarter of this game when I received an e-mail request from a reader named Ted asking me to include Ohio in this week's column. Ted said that he followed the Bobcats closely and that he had made one of his biggest wagers of the season on them to cover +3.5 points at Temple (at various times +4 and +4.5 were available), while also making a separate wager on the moneyline.
Ted and the rest of those who took the points appeared to be in good shape almost the entire way. The Bobcats were up 10-0 heading into the fourth quarter and had absolutely dominated Temple defensively. The Owls has just 60 yards through the first three quarters, including negative yardage in the second and third quarters.
The Bobcats squandered numerous opportunities though and allowed the Owls to hang around. With 4:43 remaining and his team trailing 10-7, Temple's Anthony Perlozzo missed a field goal, wide left. At the time, that miss appeared to seal the Owls' fate.
Cue the dagger. On the very first play of the ensuing possession, Ohio's Chris Garrett fumbled the ball, giving it back to Temple. The Owls made the most of their new lease on life, scoring a touchdown with 1:51 remaining. That gave Temple a 14-10 lead and that's the way the game finished. Adding insult to injury, Ohio appeared to complete an 18-yard pass on 4th-and-17 in the game's waning moments. It would have given the Bobcats a reasonable shot at the end zone. However, officials crushed any hope that Ted might have still had by ruling the play incomplete.
Ohio would finish the game with a significant edge in total yards, first downs and time of possession.
Central Florida at Tulsa
Those who backed Tulsa in this game will probably argue that the Golden Hurricane deserved the cover. After all, Tulsa did finish the game with a significant edge in total yards. That being said, the Knights did manage to hold the Golden Hurricane to a season low in yards, nearly 200 below their season average. Additionally, the Knights ran nearly as many plays (67-64) and they also did a reasonable job controlling the clock, holding the ball for 34 minutes.
Regardless of the stats, when leading at halftime and getting 24 points, one typically has a pretty strong chance of covering. That wasn't the case though. Tulsa, which has scored more points than any team in the country, outscored the Knights by a 35-0 margin in the second half. The dagger came with three minutes remaining. Down by only 23, the Knights were still clinging to the cover. However, kicker Blake Clingan got progressively worse all game and managed to punt the ball a mere 18 yards on his last kick. That gave the revenge-minded Golden Hurricane great field position and a chance to add another seven points on to the scoreboard. Three plays and 1:33 later, Tulsa had a 30-point lead. Tough loss for those backing the dog.
Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles
Two weeks ago, the Eagles rallied from a second-half deficit and scored a late touchdown to cover the spread against the 49ers. After enjoying a well-deserved bye, the Eagles hosted the Falcons this past Sunday.
The Eagles were laying 9.5 points but Atlanta played them tough nearly the entire way. The Falcons were down only three points at halftime but fell behind 10 on the opening drive of the second half. They didn't quit though. After the teams traded punts, Atlanta drove more than 50 yards on its next possession and managed to get a first-and-goal situation from the two yard line. However, after gaining a yard on the ground first down, Matt Ryan attempted a pass on second down and was picked off. At the time, that looked it would be the backbreaker for the Falcons.
But the Falcons still wouldn't quit. After limiting the Eagles to a field goal on the next possession, Atlanta drove for a touchdown of its own. It brought the Falcons to within six points (20-14) midway through the fourth quarter. That looked like it would be enough, particularly after the Falcons forced the Eagles to punt on the ensuing possession.
Cue the dagger. Atlanta kick returner Adam Jennings muffed the punt and Philly recovered. However, replays showed that Jennings actually didn't even touch the ball. It should have been Atlanta's ball but the Falcons didn't have any timeouts remaining and therefore couldn't challenge. Still, with little time left, the Eagles should have run out the clock and won by only six. Even a field goal would have resulted in a nine-point Eagles win and an Atlanta cover. It wasn't to be. With less than two minutes remaining, Westbrook managed to break through for a 39-yard rushing touchdown. Tough loss for Falcon backers.