1,578. Combined yards gained this season, in seven total games, by Temple and Tulane. West Virginia and Baylor, meanwhile, came up just 71 yards short of that in 60 minutes early on Saturday afternoon. It was almost too much, you know?
I love offense, I love writing about offense, and I love watching WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen and Baylor head coach Art Briles doing their thing. But … come on. The teams scored touchdowns on 19 possessions and didn't score touchdowns on only nine. And it could have been worse! Baylor missed two field goals and threw an interception at the WVU 42, and WVU missed a field goal itself. With better place-kicking, this game would have reached 140 points. But the 133 combined points were more than 68 FBS teams have scored so far this season. Absurd. And exhausting.
That was kind of the story of the week, though. Offenses went crazy from coast to coast. With supposedly one of the better defenses in the country, Texas still found itself in a 41-36 shootout with Oklahoma State. Northwestern gained over 700 yards. Virginia gained 625 and lost. Georgia gained 560 and barely won an SEC game. Miami's Stephen Morris threw for 566 yards and barely won. Texas A&M scored 58 points on Arkansas, A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel threw for 453 yards and rushed for another 104. North Carolina scored 66 on Idaho and had to try really hard not to score 80 (they failed on three different trips inside the Vandals' 40). Clemson and Boston College combined for 996 yards, Purdue and Marshall combined for 977. Oregon scored 51 points and gained 469 yards, and it felt underwhelming. Oregon State gained 613 yards and barely made it onto the Numerical's radar screen.
Here are some of the week's receiver performances. And yes, this disease called "offense" has even begun to afflict ACC teams.
- Baylor's Terrance Williams: 23 targets, 17 catches, 314 yards, two touchdowns
- West Virginia's Stedman Bailey: 14 targets, 13 catches, 303 yards, five touchdowns
- West Virginia's Tavon Austin: 16 targets, 14 catches, 215 yards, two touchdowns
- Marshall's Tommy Shuler: 21 targets, 19 catches, 200 yards
- Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins: 14 targets, 11 catches, 197 yards, one touchdown
- Boston College's Alex Amidon: 13 targets, eight catches, 193 yards, two touchdowns
- Miami's Phillip Dorsett: 15 targets, seven catches, 191 yards, two touchdowns
- Miami's Rashawn Scott: 11 targets, six catches, 180 yards, two touchdowns
- Oregon State's Markus Wheaton: 18 targets, 10 catches, 166 yards, two touchdowns
- Oregon State's Brandin Cooks: 12 targets, nine catches, 149 yards
(Arkansas' Cobi Hamilton caught 11 passes for 162 yards, but it took 24 targets to do it. And then, on the opposite end of the spectrum, there's Hawaii's Jeremiah Ostrowski: eight targets, one catch, nine yards.)
How impressive was the week in terms of the nation's collective passing game? Washington's Kasen Williams caught 10 of 14 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown and didn't even come close to reaching the Top 10 receiver performances. Hell, Baylor's Tevin Reese (four of eight for 120 yards and a touchdown) wasn't even in the Top 3 of his own game.
It was actually a crazy enough weekend that nine different MAC teams scored at least 34 points … and nobody noticed. Miami (Ohio) and Akron combined for 105 points and 1,334 yards? *yawns* I guess that's impressive. Ball State and Kent State combined for 88 points and 1,018 yards? *playing with phone* That sounds pretty fun. The gauntlet has been thrown, MAC. Time to raise your collective game.
312. Yards gained by Georgia freshman running backs in the Bulldogs' 51-44 shootout win over Tennessee. Todd Gurley rushed 24 times for 130 yards (and threw in one reception for three), and Keith Marshall carried 10 times for 164 yards (one catch, 15 yards) as Georgia was able to outlast a game, but mistake-prone, UT squad. Curse over?
(We'll get to your defense Wednesday, Georgia fans. Don't you worry.)
292. Combined yards, rushing and receiving, gained by Northwestern's Kain Colter in a 44-29 win over Indiana. He's back! The quarterbackish Colter moved to more of a skill position role (Colterback?) against the Hoosiers -- he did throw three passes (he completed one for two yards and was picked once), but he did his damage by keeping the ball in his hands: 14 carries for 161 yards and nine catches from quarterback Trevor Siemian (in 11 targets) for 131 yards. Northwestern's offense is much better when Colter is doing a little bit of everything.
108. Yards gained in the first half by South Carolina against Kentucky. The Gamecocks trailed, 17-7, at halftime, having been outgained, 173-108. But when Kentucky blew a seemingly easy scoring opportunity late in the first half, the handwriting was on the wall. After an odd role reversal in the first half, South Carolina was South Carolina (and Kentucky was Kentucky) in the second; S.C. gained 240 yards to UK's 70 and ran away from the Wildcats, 38-17.
94. Percentage of Iowa's carries made by Mark Weisman in the last two weeks. He was responsible for all 27 of the Hawkeyes' carries in week's loss to Central Michigan, and he was responsible for 21 of 24 in Saturday's 31-13 win over Minnesota. Part of this extreme usage is because of need -- Iowa loses running backs more than Mark Richt loses control of his team (More than Nick Offerman loses deserving Emmys! More than the NHL loses seasons! More than William Jennings Bryan loses presidential elections! More than al Qaeda loses seconds in command! More than Facebook loses investors! More than REM loses religion!); but it is also due to the simple fact that Weisman has been really good. Those 48 carries in two weeks gained 388 yards (8.1 per carry), and with a mediocre passing attack, Iowa will lean on Weisman has much as he can handle. He gets some much-deserved rest this weekend, however, with Iowa on bye.
80. Length of this catch by Missouri's Dorial Green-Beckham.
It was the most cathartic moment for Mizzou fans in the Tigers' 21-16 win over UCF, both because many had been clamoring for DGB to break through and because quarterback James Franklin actually had enough time to throw a pass. A young line thoroughly decimated by injuries has not done Franklin, or Mizzou, many favors this year.
45.2. Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux's completion rate against Virginia Tech. He completed just 19 of 45 passes, but one of them looked like this…
…and the Bearcats won, 27-24, anyway.
(I've watched this play 100 times, and I still don't understand how that wrist flick created that pass.)
18. Years since Duke last began the season 4-1 or better. The Blue Devils started out 7-0 in 1994 (they finished just 8-4) and have finished with MORE than four wins in a season just once since then. Once! But following a 34-27 road upset of Wake Forest, here they are, within two wins of what would be their first trip into the land of bowl eligibility since, again, 1994. The road gets rougher from here on out -- let's just say it would greatly behoove Duke to beat Virginia at home this Saturday -- but while we often have to try really hard to find signs of growth and hope in Durham, David Cutcliffe and company are making it pretty easy this time around.
16. LSU's margin of victory over Towson. The Bayou Bengals fumbled five times and lost three of them, and Zach Mettenberger somehow averaged only 6.5 yards per pass attempt (he was sacked four times) versus the Tigers, a strong FCS team, but an FCS team nonetheless. LSU did eventually pull away a bit for a 38-22 win, but while their interest level was just as half-empty as the Tiger Stadium stands after halftime, it is still disconcerting that a half-interested LSU squad couldn't put this team away sooner.
12. Players Virginia trotted onto the field for the biggest play of the game in its 44-38 loss to Louisiana Tech. With Tech facing a fourth-and-1 following two timeouts, UVa was called for an illegal participation penalty. Tech ran out the clock and finished off the road win. It was a game of mistakes from Virginia, really; they turned the ball over three times, they were dominated in the field position battle (thanks in part to Tech kick returner D.J. Banks), and despite outgaining Tech by 240 yards (625 to 385), the Hoos blew a 24-10 second-quarter lead. Virginia has been pretty unlucky in starting the season 2-3, but the Cavs haven't done themselves any favors either.
7.6. Yards per play averaged by Middle Tennessee in a 49-28 win at Georgia Tech. Tech's defense was simply abysmal in allowing 510 yards to a Blue Raider offense that had gained over 500 just once in its previous 26 contests. Blue Raider running back Benny Cunningham gained 212 yards in 27 carries. Heading into the game, he had gained 81 yards in 2012.
6. Fumbles by Nebraska (three by Taylor Martinez) in a 30-27 win over Wisconsin. The Huskers only lost two of the loose balls and were able to hold off a late Bucky comeback attempt, but … as is customary with Martinez, Nebraska played with some serious fire. Martinez rushed for 117 non-sack yards, threw for 171 more (after sacks) and had a hand in four touchdowns. But it has to be a little bit terrifying watching him run the offense, whether you are a Nebraska fan or a fan of the opposition.
5. Tackles for loss made by UCLA's Damien Holmes in the Bruins' 42-14 win over Colorado. Granted, three of the tackles were sacks of CU pocket mannequin Jordan Webb, but they still count, and his performance should get him onto this week's Heisman list.
4.3. Combined inches of rain that fell in Hattiesburg, MS, and Dallas, TX, on Saturday, reducing two football games -- Louisville's 21-17 win over Southern Miss and TCU's 24-16 win over SMU -- into offensive disasters. (Interpret "offensive" however you like.) Neither Louisville nor Southern Miss gained more than 269 yards, and a pair of Louisville turnovers kept the mostly hapless Golden Eagles in the game until the finish. Meanwhile, TCU and SMU combined for 376 yards; TCU gained an egregiously low 156 yards but won because SMU a) wouldn't stop throwing and b) wouldn't stop throwing interceptions. SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert's passing line: 15-for-40 for 190 yards, one touchdown, five interceptions and four sacks.
4. Field goal attempts by Alabama's Jeremy Shelley in the Tide's 33-14 win over Ole Miss. If you are looking for areas of vulnerability in Alabama, and it is rather difficult, you could at least point out that the UA red zone offense still isn't that great. Alabama drives stalled at the Ole Miss 21, 21, 8 and 6, and while Shelley came through on all four kicks (which gave the Bama defense basically what it needed to fend off the Rebels), Ole Miss defense didn't exactly stop Texas many times a couple of weeks ago.
3.5. Tackles made by Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu in the Ducks' 51-26 win over Washington State. Why is this relevant? Because it is lower than the number of passes he broke up (four). In the last two weeks of Pac-12 play (weeks which have seen Oregon outscore opponents, 100-26), Ekpre-Olomu has made more plays on the ball (two interceptions, seven passes broken up) than on opposing players (4.5 tackles). That suggests to me that if opponents are throwing at the man he is covering, it probably isn't working out too well. To future Oregon opponents: just don't throw at him. Even you, Matt Barkley.
3. Boise State's margin of victory over New Mexico. They won by 45 last year. Boise State looked to be cruising, building a 25-0 lead at halftime, but powered by a startlingly effective option attack, Bob Davie's Lobos gained 196 yards (8.2 per play) over the course of four second-half drives and cut BSU's lead to just 32-29 midway through the fourth quarter. Boise State is still almost certainly going to win the Mountain West this season (Fresno State has looked really good thus far, however), but for the first time in years the Broncos look truly vulnerable against less-than-stellar competition. They will almost certainly be favored in eight of their remaining eight games, but I have to figure they slip up at least once, maybe twice.
2.4. Yards per pass attempt averaged by California's Zach Maynard. The nation's collective passing game was lighting up like a firecracker on Saturday, but it didn't help Maynard, who completed just nine of 28 passes for 126 yards and was sacked six times for a loss of 46. Meanwhile, Iowa State's Steele Jantz averaged just 2.0 yards per attempt in the Cyclones' 24-13 loss to Texas Tech. Jantz went 10-for-20 for just 73 yards and a touchdown, and he was picked off three times and sacked four times for 24 yards. Continue doubting the Red Raiders if you want -- it is very true that Tech has not taken on the toughest slate this season -- but with a home win over Oklahoma this weekend, Tech and its dominant-so-far defense could cram their way into the Big 12 race.
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