Non-conference play has finally come to an end, as most teams at this point have a good understanding of what they are working with heading into the conference schedule. Week four was not kind to a bunch of ranked teams, as two ranked matchups and a few upsets saw more than a handful of Top 25 teams fall short.
Nobody got hit harder on Saturday than Michigan, who got absolutely man-handled on the road against Wisconsin, dropping them from No. 11 all the way down to No. 20. Utah was one of two Top 10 teams to lose, in a 30-23 road contest at USC, with Notre Dame falling to Georgia in Athens. Texas A&M lost at home to Auburn, and UCF was stunned on the road in a 35-34 loss to Pitt. A few teams in the lower rankings lost as well, with TCU and Arizona State coming up short in their respective games.
And then there was Washington State, which we will get to in a minute. As always, the college football slate was full of bad beats, from outright upsets to meaningless late scores that made bettors rip their hair out nationwide. Lets see just where things went wrong on Saturday, starting with those Cougars...
UCLA 67 - Washington State 63
(Line: UCLA +650 ML)
Mike Leach and the Cougars came into the game as 18-point favorites, and they looked like they were well on their way to covering with ease early on. After trailing 10-7 after the first quarter, the Wazzu offense came alive, outscoring the Bruins 28-7 in the second to take a 35-17 lead into halftime. It looked to be more of the same coming out of the break, as the Cougars extended their lead to 49-17 with 6:52 remaining in the third quarter.
UCLA would answer back with a long 75-yard touchdown drive, and from there seismic shift in momentum could be felt. The Washington State offense completely lost its mojo, losing two fumbles and punting in their next three drives as the Bruins went down to score on all three of their possessions, capped by a 94-yard TD at the end of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 49-38. UCLA continued to battle, eventually regaining the lead at 60-56 with 7:31 left in the fourth.
Wazzu got back on top late after a 65-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Gordon — his ninth TD pass of the game — as the home team looked to hold on and escape with a narrow victory. UCLA, however, had fought too hard to fall short after the miraculous comeback effort, and would not be denied.
Leach’s squad had one last chance at redemption on their ensuing possession, but a sack fumble on first down put a quick end to the last remaining shred of hope at avoiding a crushing defeat. UCLA rallied from 32 points down in the third quarter to record their first win of the season. The Bruins were 18-point underdogs, and a $100 bet on them to win straight up would have netted $650.
Texas 36 - Oklahoma State 30
(Line: Texas -7)
An early conference matchup in the Big 12 was one of the highlights of the prime time slate, with an offensive shootout expected as is the custom in those parts. After a slow start to the first quarter, with the two schools combing for just three points, it began to open up a bit. Texas found the end zone first, scoring back-to-back passing touchdowns to start the second quarter. OK State cut into the deficit with a field goal and TD run of their own, but the Longhorns hit on a 73-yard TD pass from Sam Ehlinger to take a 21-13 lead.
The Cowboys took the lead on field goals on both sides of halftime, but Texas responded with yet another TD pass late in the third quarter. After adding a rushing score with a two-point conversion, the Longhorns held a 36-23 lead with time ticking away. As we neared the end of the fourth quarter, it looked like home team would have no problem covering the seven-point spread.
Oklahoma State had other plans, and on 3rd-and-10 with under two minutes remaining, Chuba Hubbard found a way around the outside to run it in for a touchdown. Texas would be comfortable just running on the clock on its last possession, as the Longhorns would wind up not covering the seven-point spread by a single point after covering for almost the entire fourth quarter.
Eastern Michigan 34 - Central Connecticut 29
(Line: O/U 63)
Eastern Michigan really never had a chance of covering the spread in this one, coming into the game as 32.5-point favorites. Central Connecticut got on the scoreboard first with a short rushing TD and two-point conversion. The Eagles answered with a 48-yard TD pass, but the Blue Devils got it right back with a TD run of their own as time expired in the first quarter.
EMU would go on to score three straight touchdowns, taking the game into the early stages of the fourth quarter. After a short TD run by Central Connecticut, they would regain the lead with a 68-yard TD pass with just over two minutes remaining, now up 29-28. The Eagles obviously weren’t going to cover, but were now in danger of losing the game outright. Then, the special teams unit came up big.
Matthew Sexton came unblocked off the edge to block the punt, getting an incredibly fortunate bounce that landed right back in his own hands as he would return the ball for a touchdown with almost no time left on the clock. Eastern Michigan would go on to win, but that isn’t where this became a bad beat. The over/under for the game was 63. The score on the punt block made it 34-29 — exactly 63 points. The under looked like a sure thing had the Blue Devils just gotten the punt off, but it was not to be as bettors came away with a shocking push.