The Numerical, Week 3: Fast Starts, False Starts And Poor, Poor Colorado

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 15: Aaron Murray #11 of the Georgia Bulldogs reacts after a touchdown against the Florida Atlantic Owls at Sanford Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

A look at the numbers that mattered most in Week 3 of the 2012 college football season.

-99. Wyoming's yardage margin in a 24-22 loss to Cal Poly. Without starting quarterback Brett Smith, the Cowboys' offense was directionless, gaining just 4.2 yards per play behind quarterback Colby Kirkegaard. Meanwhile, Missouri gained just 3.6 yards per play against Arizona State behind new (and temporary) starter Corbin Berkstresser, but they won, 24-20, thanks to turnovers, defense, and a split of miserable special teams plays. Oklahoma State, of course, fared a little better with its backup. After Wes Lunt left the game with an injury, J.W. Walsh averaged 11.6 yards per pass and 12.2 yards per carry in a 65-24 win over UL-Lafayette. OSU gained 742 yards, more than Wyoming and Missouri combined.

1. Texas Tech possessions that didn't extend inside New Mexico's 25-yard line in a 49-14 Red Raiders win. Tech gained 702 yards (7.8 per play), and Seth Doege completed 27 of 35 passes for 340 yards and six touchdowns in the Red Raiders' third consecutive romp of the season. It's one thing to beat poor competition; it's another to dominate like Tech has been dominating.

2. Premature field-rushes by Utah fans in an eventual 24-21 Holy War win over BYU. Third time's a charm.

3. Consecutive wins for Ball State over state-mate Indiana. In 2008, the Cardinals won, 42-20 in Muncie. In 2011, they won, 27-20, in Indianapolis. And on Saturday, they held off a late comeback in Bloomington and won, 41-39. I'm pretty sure that automatically promotes them to the Big Ten and relegates the Hoosiers to the MAC. (And on the flipside, UL Monroe just missed promotion to the SEC after an overtime loss to Auburn.)

3.8. Yards per carry averaged by Wisconsin's Montee Ball in a 16-14 win over Utah State. Ball carried 37 times for 139 yards and a touchdown, and the Badgers needed a punt return touchdown and a late missed field goal to hold off the Aggies. Utah State outgained Wisconsin, 308 to 234, and seized the game's only turnover; honestly, Wisconsin winning felt like a bit of an upset.

4. Consecutive possessions in which Troy turned the ball over in an eventual 30-24 loss to Mississippi State. The Trojans gained 572 yards on the Bulldogs -- quarterback Corey Robinson went 32-for-45 for 343 yards -- but this blitz of turnovers defined the game and allowed MSU to hold on in a tricky road challenge. The Bulldogs recovered all four of the game's fumbles, and they needed all four. Penn State, meanwhile, did the same in a 34-7 win over Navy, but they had a little more cushion with which to work.

5. Plays it took for Fresno State to gain 215 yards and score four touchdowns in the first quarter of a ridiculous, 69-14 massacre of Colorado. Robbie Rouse caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to go up 14-0, then following a good punt return by Isaiah Burse, Rouse caught a 12-yard touchdown pass on their next play. 21-0. Colorado pinned FSU deep with a punt, but on the first play of the next drive, Carr found Burse for a 97-yard touchdown. 28-0. And after another good punt, Rouse ran for three yards, then ripped off a 94-yard touchdown.

Poor Colorado. Poor, poor Colorado.

6. Passes of 14 yards or more, including a 36-yard touchdown to John Goodman, completed by Notre Dame's Everett Golson in a 20-3 win over Michigan State. Michigan State's Andrew Maxwell had three. Offense was hard to come by for both teams, but as I predicted in Saturday's preview, big plays in the passing game were the difference.

7.8. Yards per pass averaged by Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday in a 35-27 win over UNLV. Subbing in for the injured Jeff Tuel, Halliday showed more upside (378 yards, four touchdowns, 11 completions for 236 yards to Gabe Marks and Marquess Wilson) than Tuel, and perhaps more downside as well (two picks, two sacks).

10.2. Yards per play averaged by Louisville in their first five drives as they were building a 36-7 lead over North Carolina. They averaged 4.1 yards per play the rest of the way and spent almost the entire lead, holding on to win by just a 39-34 margin. UNC had basically the opposite game: 3.5 yards per play and no points in the first five drives, 9.0 yards per play and 34 points thereafter. Like UNC, Kansas State dilly-dallied before stepping on the accelerator against North Texas, but the Wildcats still had time to pull away for a 35-21 win.

11. Combined turnovers in UCLA's 37-6 win over Houston. The Bruins turned the ball over five times and won the turnover margin. Meanwhile, Houston quarterback David Piland, recruited for his arm and not his legs, produced one of the odder passing lines you will ever see: 28-for-60 for 249 yards, five interceptions, a sack, 4.0 yards per pass attempt … and three carries for 73 yards and a long touchdown run.

12. Tackles for loss logged by Stanford in a 21-14 "upset" of USC. ("Upset" is in quotes because when you beat a team for a fourth straight times, it really isn't much of an upset.) The Cardinal defense is the real deal. USC gained just 280 yards (4.1 per play), and preseason Heisman front-runner Matt Barkley completed 49 percent of his passes, threw two interceptions and fumbled once (further proving why "preseason Heisman front-runner" should not be a real thing).

14. Trips made by TCU and Kansas inside each other's respective 40-yard lines in an eventual 20-6 TCU win. That the teams combined to score just 26 points while gaining 867 yards is rather staggering. In eight trips, TCU scored two touchdowns, kicked two field goals, missed a third and turned the ball over three times. Constant miscues actually gave Kansas a shot at an upset, but in six trips, the Jayhawks kicked two field goals, turned the ball over twice, and suffered turnovers on downs twice.

19.0. Tackles made by Boston College linebacker Nick Clancy in a 22-13 loss to Northwestern. And that's only if you count assisted tackles as half; Clancy had 14 solo tackles and 10 assists. Honestly, B.C. should be signing five-star linebackers every single year -- I'm not sure why you would want to go anywhere else to play football if you are about 6'3, 230 pounds.

25.4. Equivalent point value of the four, second-half turnovers committed by Sam Houston State in a 48-23 loss to Baylor. SHSU bolted to a jarring 20-10 halftime lead, averaging 6.6 yards per play in the process. But Baylor clamped down in the second half, holding the Bearkats to 3.4 yards per play, and outscoring them, 38-3, with help from turnovers and flipped fields.

48.8. Percentage of Rutgers' overall yardage gained by Jawan Jamison in the Scarlet Knights' 23-13 win over USF. It took him 43 touches (including incompletions) to gain 167 yards, but Rutgers is pretty content to ride Jamison and a sturdy defense to the Big East title. And it might work.

95. Yards gained by Maryland on their first 10 drives of a 24-21 loss to UConn. The Terrapins averaged 2.0 yards per play over 47 plays. They rallied late, gaining 110 yards in two late touchdown drives, but it was the utter definition of too little, too late. Florida, Texas A&M and Florida State, on the other hand, didn't wait as long. After gaining a paltry 91 yards (4.3 per play) on their first five drives against Tennessee, Florida erupted for 464 yards (11.0 per play) thereafter and pulled away for a 37-20 win. Meanwhile, Texas A&M gained 97 yards (4.2 per play) and scored zero points in five drives, then gained 508 and scored 48 the rest of the way in an easy win over SMU. And Florida State gained 50 yards (4.5 per play) in two scoreless drives, then rolled to 562 yards (9.1 per play) and 52 points in a shutout win over Wake Forest.

100. West Virginia receiver Stedman Bailey's catch rate in a 42-12 win over James Madison. Granted, a lot of players produce that in a given game -- 1-for-1, 2-for-2, etc. But passes to Bailey went 13-for-13 for 173 yards and three touchdowns. That is … less common. Tavon Austin caught 11 of 14 yards for 113 yards and was easily the second-most productive receiver on the WVU roster on Saturday.

127. Yards gained in two plays by Ohio State in a 35-28 win over California: a 55-yard touchdown run by quarterback Braxton Miller (his weekly highlight reel run) and a 72-yard touchdown pass from Miller to Devin Smith. The Buckeyes averaged just 4.7 yards per play the rest of the game, but big plays were the difference in a tighter-than-expected win. Stony Brook, meanwhile, used two big plays (a 63-yard touchdown pass and a 71-yard touchdown run) to stay a lot closer to Syracuse before eventually falling, 28-17.

167.

173.4. Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez's passer rating after three games. No, the defenses of Southern Miss, UCLA and Arkansas State, are not exactly Alabama's, LSU's and Florida State's. But strong game-planning (and lots of passes on standard downs) have done Martinez some serious favors. In a 42-13 win over ASU, Martinez completed 13 of 14 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns and gained 77 yards on nine carries.

213. Pittsburgh's yardage margin in a 35-17 upset of Virginia Tech. This is important because it would be easy to ride a "The Hokies were sloppy" storyline to explaining this one. Tech was indeed ridiculously sloppy -- they committed four first-half turnovers in falling behind big -- but Pitt straight-up outplayed them as well. Riding a steady attack of running backs Rushel Shell and Ray Graham (combined: 52 touches, 283 yards, three touchdowns), the Panthers gained 537 yards and outplayed Tech in virtually every aspect of the game.

395. Combined rushing and passing yards for Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson in a 63-13 win over UMass: 291 passing, 106 rushing. It almost seems commonplace for him.

599. Yards gained by Boise State in a 39-12 win over Miami (Ohio). Now THAT's more like it.

713. Yards gained by Georgia in a 56-20 win over Florida Atlantic. In 63 plays. The Bulldogs turned the ball over four times, which let FAU hang around briefly, but freshman running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall combined or 215 rushing yards in 20 carries, and quarterback Aaron Murray produced one of the week's most ridiculous passing lines: 14-for-19 for 342 yards, two touchdowns, a pick and no sacks. That is a per-attempt average of 18.0 yards.

730. Yards gained in 27 touches by Texas' Marquise Goodwin (four for 182 and two touchdowns), Purdue's Akeem Hunt (five for 156 and two touchdowns), Clemson's Sammy Watkins (five for 110 and a touchdown; welcome back, Sammy!), Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas (six for 135 and two touchdowns, plus a 48-yard punt return for good measure) and Georgia Tech's Orwin Smith (seven for 147 and a touchdown). Only a Marine could stop this fivesome on Saturday.

(You're damn right we're going to milk that GIF for all it's worth.)

16,780. Days between home shutout losses for Arkansas. The Razorbacks lost, 7-0, to Baylor in Fayetteville on October 8, 1966, and they lost, 52-0, to the Alabama juggernaut on Saturday.

39,435. Announced attendance at Miami's home opener, a 38-10 win over Bethune-Cookman. That's five-time national champion Miami, drawing 4,432 fewer people than Kansas. And that's only if you believe the announced attendance.

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