The Numerical, Week 6: Francium and 101 yards per catch

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The numbers that mattered in Week 6 of the 2012 college football season.

-1.2. Average yards per attempt for New Mexico quarterback B.R. Holbrook against Texas State. Mind you, he averaged this in a New Mexico WIN. Holbrook completed one of three passes for nine yards and was sacked twice for a loss of 15; but Texas State couldn't stop the Lobos' option attack -- Kasey Carrier carried 23 times for 191 yards and four touchdowns -- and Bob Davie's squad pulled away for a 35-14 win.

2. Approximate number of plays separating Penn State from an undefeated record. Ohio scored a fluky touchdown off a deflected pass, and it completely redefined an eventual 24-14 loss for the Nittany Lions. The next week, PSU's Sam Ficken missed four of five field goals (all 42 yards or shorter) in a one-point loss to Virginia. Since then, Bill O'Brien's squad has won four games in a row. PSU ripped off a lovely second-half comeback to take out previously unbeaten Northwestern this weekend. As incredible as O'Brien's coaching job seems -- Matt McGloin has turned into a competent, confident quarterback, and PSU is 4-2 despite all of the offseason negativity surrounding NCAA sanctions, defections, and, of course, Joe Paterno's death -- it would seem doubly impressive at 6-0. Regardless, hell of a job so far, Coach.

2.2. Average gain on the 26 passes from Georgia's Aaron Murray to somebody other than Malcolm Mitchell in Georgia's humbling 35-7 loss to South Carolina. In Michael Bennett's absence (Bennett was lost for the season with an injury suffered in practice last week), Georgia's receiving corps failed to step up its collective game. Mitchell caught three of five passes for 52 yards, but the trio of Rontavious Wooten, Marlon Brown and Tavarres King caught just six of 18 passes for 46 yards, an absolutely horrific showing. Wake Forest can relate, of course. In a disappointing 19-14 loss to Maryland, Terence Davis caught seven of 12 passes for 130 yards and a long, early touchdown. Passes from Tanner Price to somebody other than Davis: 6-for-26 for 40 yards.

2.7. Average points scored by Florida State in six trips inside N.C. State's 40-yard line. They scored one touchdown, settled for three field goals (including one from the State 2), threw an interception and, on fourth-and-17 from the 34, punted. Despite second-half troubles (four of six trips inside State's 40 happened in the first half), the Seminoles did well in setting the table for an easy win. But they squandered the opportunities they created and suffered a jarring 17-16 loss. Always be closing, boys and girls.

3. Games in which Air Force's Cody Getz has rushed for at least 200 yards in 2012. I have overlooked Getz a couple of times in the weekly Heisman Horse Race, but Getz is leading the nation at 177.0 yards per game after a 29-carry, 204-yard performance against Navy. Yes, Air Force is pretty bad this season, and no, Getz cannot play defense. But wow, has he been effective.

3.9. Yards per play averaged by Utah State in a 6-3 loss to BYU. Watching the game, you'd have thought it was half that. BYU has not allowed more than 261 yards in a game this season (Utah State gained 202), and the Cougars have not allowed more than 300 in a game since Oct. 15 of last year. Yes, offenses like West Virginia's are getting the headlines, but there is plenty of good defense in this country if you look for it.

6. Tackles for loss made by Syracuse's Brandon Sharpe in a 14-13 win over Pittsburgh. The senior had recorded just 7.5 tackles for loss since the beginning of the 2010 season, but he exploded against the Panthers. He sacked poor Tino Sunseri four times (how many defensive ends have had breakout games at Sunseri's expense in the last two seasons?), made two other stops behind the line, and logged a total of seven solo tackles for the game. He was a monster. And if you enjoy a higher degree of difficulty, then maybe you will be more impressed by Ohio State's John Simon: 6.5 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble against Nebraska.

7.5. Percentage of Washington State's passes caught by Jordan Poyer on Saturday. The problem: Poyer is an Oregon State cornerback. Washington State ran just 51 plays all game in a 19-6 loss to the Beavers, primarily because the offense couldn't hold onto the ball -- turnovers and a poor third-down conversion rate (created by poor first and second downs, of course) doomed Mike Leach's Cougars.

8. Passes thrown by Purdue's Robert Marve on a torn ACL. The sixth-year senior has torn his ACL three times and will not be getting a seventh year of eligibility, so he has apparently said "To hell with it" and decided to play anyway. He filled in for an ineffective Caleb TerBush in a 44-13 loss to Michigan and went 5-for-8 for 43 yards and a sack. He wasn't particularly effective himself, but he played, and that's ... wow.

9.5. Yards per play averaged by Wisconsin in its final five drives in a 31-14 win over Illinois. It was a Saturday of surges in the Big Ten. The Badgers gained 180 yards in their first 31 plays (a healthy 5.8 per play average) but scored only seven points. In their final 26 plays, they gained 248 yards and scored 24 points. Penn State didn't wait quite as long: in a 39-28 win over Northwestern, the Nittany Lions scored 10 points in the first half and 29 in the second. And Ohio State didn't even need to wait until halftime; after gaining just 17 yards in 13 first-quarter plays, the Buckeyes gained 428 in their final 49 plays (8.7 per play) in a 63-38 win over Nebraska.

(Indiana, of course, went in the other direction. The Hoosiers averaged 6.4 yards per play in building a solid first-half lead over Michigan State, but they fell, 31-27, after averaging just 1.6 yards per play (23 for 37) in the second half.)

10. Lead changes in Stanford's 54-48 overtime win over Arizona. Each team gained 617 yards, each had a turnover worth 4.3 equivalent points (as defined here), and each led for a good portion of the game. This was, by almost any definition, the most even game of 2012. Eventually, somebody had to win.

11. Tackles for loss made by Arkansas in a 24-7 win over Auburn. Need a fix for your defensive woes? Play Auburn. The Hogs logged 11 more plays behind the line of scrimmage than Boston College did in a surprising loss to Army, and they had nine more than Notre Dame and Miami combined for in a 41-3 Irish win full of almost passive defense.

16. Disruptive plays made by Oregon's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu this season. He has picked off two passes (returning one for a touchdown), broken up 10 more and forced four fumbles. He forced two and broke up a pass in an easy Oregon win over Washington, and he and linebacker Kiko Alonso (9.5 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery against the Huskies) are basically the faces of this incredibly active, fast Ducks defense.

18. Years since Duke won more than five games in a season. They're currently 5-1, and they have six chances to reach bowl eligibility after a 42-17 thumping of Virginia.

87. The atomic number for Francium, which is commonly known as the most unstable of the naturally occurring elements on the Periodic Table. In 2012, Texas A&M is college football's Francium. On the road against Ole Miss, the Aggies lost four fumbles, turned the ball over six times, gave up four sacks and 13 tackles for loss, allowed 464 yards (5.9 per play), and let Rebel quarterback Bo Wallace do a pretty good Eli Manning impression (20-for-34 for 305 yards) ... and the Aggies won because they gained 481 yards, forced two turnovers of their own, and, with the game on the line, drove for two late touchdowns (the first included a third-and-19 conversion from their 3-yard line). Quarterback Johnny Manziel threw two picks and lost a fumble, but he came through. Watch these Aggies, guys. They will probably fail along the way, but they are crazy, unstable and incredibly explosive.

Of course, there is a pretty well-known downside to instability. Just ask UCLA. The Bruins are also led by a redshirt freshman quarterback (Brett Hundley), and they also turned the ball over six times on the road last weekend. They, however, didn't recover, dropping a frustrating 43-17 decision to a Cal squad that had been pretty frustrating itself.

101.0. Missouri receiver Bud Sasser's average yards per catch versus Vanderbilt. In a game that saw Missouri quarterback James Franklin, and yet another offensive lineman, go down with another injury, the Tigers eventually fell, 19-15. But hey, at least Sasser got creative. He caught one pass for an 85-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, and he recovered a fumbled Marcus Lucas reception and returned it for 16 yards, which goes into the box score as zero catches, 16 yards. Therefore, his official stat line read: 1 catch, 101 yards, long: 85. Unique.

129.2. Equivalent point value, as defined here, of the 20 turnovers committed by Connecticut, Kansas, Southern Miss and TCU in Saturday losses. Southern Miss outgained Boise State by 114 yards but fell hard to the Broncos, 40-14, because of turnovers. Connecticut was only outgained by Rutgers by 16 yards, but mistakes (and fantastic defensive play from Rutgers) gave them little chance, and they lost, 19-3. In his first game as TCU's starting quarterback, Trevone Boykin threw an interception on his second play, fumbled on his fourth (he recovered that one), and generally looked like a first-time starter; TCU outgained Iowa State by 105 yards, but five turnovers assured the Horned Frogs of a 14-point loss. And whatever designs Kansas had of an upset over Kansas State (KU took a 14-7 lead on two early scores) were done in by its inability to hold onto the ball. Yardage (KSU 475, KU 388) suggests probably a seven- to 14-point loss for the Jayhawks; turnovers turned it into a 56-16 loss.

134. Yards gained by Florida in two scoring drives. The Gators beat LSU, 14-6, with two perfect drives; they averaged 7.1 yards per play, mostly on the back of running back Mike Gillislee. On their other 51 plays, the Gators gained just 103 yards. That is the statistical version of putting all of your eggs in one basket.

226. Yards West Virginia's Andrew Buie had gained on the ground in the four games before a 207-yard explosion (with 66 receiving yards to boot) in WVU's 48-45 win over Texas. Texas played the pass as well as humanly possible -- the Longhorns sacked Geno Smith four times, forced two fumbles deep in WVU territory and held Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey to 8.4 yards per target. But Buie killed them instead, often from two brand new formations.

601. Yards allowed by Georgia Tech's defense in Al Groh's final game as defensive coordinator, a 47-31 loss to Clemson. Georgia Tech pulled off the rare accomplishment of averaging 8.1 yards per play and losing by 16 points. Meanwhile, North Carolina gained 533 yards (7.1 per play) versus what was allegedly Bud Foster's Virginia Tech defense. Groh was fired this week, but while Foster certainly won't be, the Hokies have begun to suffer some serious defensive lapses of their own in 2012. Carolina's Giovani Bernard gained 272 yards in 27 touches, and the Heels prevailed, 48-34. Either offenses have actually found a home in the ACC, or defenses have gotten lost.

1,231. Yards gained by Houston in its last two games, wins over Rice and North Texas. The Cougars were uncharacteristically ineffective on offense early this season, but behind a new offensive coordinator and quarterback David Piland, they are beginning to look like the Cougars again.

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