The Numerical, Week 8: Bowl droughts, Heisman candidates and those poor, poor Buffaloes

Justin K. Aller

The numbers that mattered in Week 8 of the college football season.

2. Bowls attended by Duke, Kent State and Louisiana-Monroe in the last 40 years. That number will probably rise to five this year. Duke (6-2) and Kent State (6-1) are already bowl eligible, and UL-Monroe (5-2) is really, really close. David Cutcliffe (in his fifth year at Duke), Darrell Hazell (second at Kent State) and Todd Berry (third at ULM) have done an absolutely marvelous job in building competent, confident programs.

Watching programs end long bowl droughts -- and watching fanbases celebrate like they just won the national title -- is one of the most endearing things about college football, and while Eastern Michigan's drought will continue, two are almost certainly ending this year, and that's fantastic.

3. Field goals made by South Alabama kicker Michael Chapuseaux in the Jaguars' 37-34 overtime win over Florida Atlantic. It was the Jaguars' first official Sun Belt conference win, and it continued a great couple of weeks for "Chappy," who also kicked three field goals in a tighter-than-expected loss to Arkansas State a week earlier. I mention this because Chappy was the hero, and also because he is (literally) the brother of the boyfriend of the sister of a friend of mine. It's like we're related. (Another USA hero against FAU: defender Pat Moore, who logged three tackles for loss and blocked two field goals. He probably had an even larger impact than Chapuseaux, but I don't know anybody who knows him.)



Dan Rubenstein's college football power rankings

4. Consecutive games Virginia has lost while outgaining its opponent. Riding a six-game losing streak overall, the 2-6 Cavaliers have gained 1,773 yards in four games and allowed just 1,227, but devastating mistakes have led to them being outscored, 129-85, in the process. This makes them a pretty solid rebound candidate in 2013, but it has also made for quite a mess in 2012.

4.3. Yards per play averaged by Florida State in its first three drives against Miami. The Seminoles were completely out of sorts, losing two turnovers and falling behind early. But despite a torn ACL for running back Chris Thompson, FSU rallied, gaining 395 yards and scoring 33 points after those three drives and winning, 33-20. (Rutgers waited a little longer to get rolling against Temple; the undefeated Scarlet Knights trailed, 10-0, after gaining just 100 yards in the first half. But they gained 271 and scored 35 points in the second half and cruised to a 25-point win. Florida, meanwhile, never had to surge. The Gators recovered two fumbles deep in South Carolina territory, built an impenetrable early lead, and somehow coasted to a 44-11 win despite gaining just 183 yards. The Gators went up early and just put the playbook away.)

5. Turnovers forced by LSU in a 24-19 win over Teas A&M in College Station. A&M controlled the proceedings, outgaining LSU by 94 yards and leading for almost all of the first half, but the Tigers were able to force just enough mistakes from Johnny Manziel (three interceptions) and his teammates (two fumbles) to stay close and eventually win. Manziel is mortal, after all. He's also still a redshirt freshman, and he almost beat LSU.

6. Combined scoreless trips inside the opponent's 40 in Notre Dame's 17-14 win over BYU. These two teams have great defenses, so a low-scoring game was expected. But blown opportunities were the story; Notre Dame made six forays inside BYU's 40 but missed two field goals and punted once. BYU made five such trips but missed a field goal, threw an interception and punted once. The Irish averaged a robust 6.5 yards per play but still had to hold on thanks to missed opportunities.

Notre Dame and BYU were the anti-Texas Tech. Tommy Tuberville's Red Raiders moved to 6-1, 3-1 in conference (they could move into a tie for the Big 12 lead if they were to upset Kansas State at home this coming weekend), with a 56-53 overtime win over TCU in Fort Worth. TCU controlled most of the game, gaining 516 yards to Tech's 389 and controlling the ball throughout, but in 11 trips inside Tech's 40 (including overtime), TCU had to settle for six field goals. Tech, meanwhile, found themselves inside TCU's 40 eight times ... and scored eight touchdowns. That is really, really hard to do.

8. Passes targeting Northwestern receiver Tony Jones on Saturday. Three were caught by Jones for 36 yards, and four were broken up by Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste. Pretty sure that goes down as a win for the Husker defensive back.

9. Passes defensed by an aggressive N.C. State defense in a narrow 20-18 win over Maryland. That is quite impressive considering Maryland only threw 10 incomplete passes. State also logged 10 tackles for loss (by 10 different players) but still needed two turnovers and a late missed field goal to take a win back to Raleigh. Nebraska can relate. The Huskers forced 10 Northwestern three-and-outs and 13 punts but lost three fumbles (Northwestern recovered all four of the game's loose balls) and needed a late touchdown to pull out a 29-28 win.

9.5. Yards per play averaged by Oklahoma in the first nine drives of an easy, 52-7 win over Kansas. The Sooners gained 372 yards in 39 plays, threw in two special teams touchdowns, and coasted.

12.1. Yards per pass attempt averaged by Alabama's A.J. McCarron in the Tide's eventual 31-point romp over Tennessee. McCarron completed 17 of 22 passes for 306 yards and four touchdowns and was sacked twice. We've heard some "He should be getting more Heisman attention" rumbling from Tide camps of late, and while I'm not yet willing to go that far, his stats have been sneakily fantastic: 69 percent completion rate, 16 touchdowns and no interceptions. Not bad considering his No. 1 receiver (Amari Cooper, who caught seven of eight for 162 yards and two scores) is a freshman.

Then again, McCarron's season-best performance was overshadowed by another season-best: that of Kansas State's Collin Klein, who abused the porous West Virginia defense for 323 passing yards (on 19-for-21 passing) and three scores and threw in 50 rushing yards and four touchdowns for good measure. We'll discuss Klein's place in the Heisman race tomorrow, but ... wow, did he look good in Morgantown, even considering the fact that you or I could probably engineer a 400-yard performance versus WVU right now.

14. Points scored by West Virginia's offense (not including a Tavon Austin kickoff return for touchdown) in the last seven quarters. The Mountaineers were averaging 52 points per game through five contests, but since scoring to come within 14-7 of Texas Tech in the first quarter two weeks ago, they have been outscored, 90-21. The defense obviously takes most of the blame -- WVU couldn't stop Kansas State even once before garbage time on Saturday -- but a nervous offense has lost its way. It's a really, really good time for a bye week.

39. Texas' current ranking in Defensive F/+. This is horrendous considering I expected a Top 5 performance this year, but 39th is better than 107th, which is where Texas falls in terms of total yardage. They are not doing nearly what they were expected to do, but the ridiculous slate of good offenses -- their last five opponents all rank among the nation's Top 20 offenses according to Off. F/+ (No. 1 Baylor, No. 5 Oklahoma, No. 6 Oklahoma State, No. 11 Ole Miss, No. 20 West Virginia) -- doesn't help.

47. Plays run by Boston College in a 37-17 loss to Georgia Tech. The Eagles actually averaged a healthy 6.3 yards per play, but Georgia Tech's own offense was so effective at playing keep away (91 plays for 563 yards with just six completed passes) that it didn't matter. BC's offense is not very good this year, but the defense has potentially been worse. Not exactly what you would expect from a Frank Spaziani team.

57.1. Value, in equivalent points, of Houston's nine turnovers in the Cougars' 72-42 loss to SMU. Nine turnovers! SMU returned four for touchdowns, allowing the Mustangs to score 10 touchdowns (and kick a field goal) while gaining just 384 yards. Nine turnovers! Three Houston quarterbacks combined to throw for 445 yards, three touchdowns (well, six, actually) and throw six picks. Goodness.

61. Length of the game-tying drive led by Ohio State's Kenny Guiton against Purdue in the waning seconds of regulation. With starter Braxton Mliler on his way to the hospital, Guiton completed three of five passes for 49 yards and completed another for a two-point conversion. A 22-14 deficit eventually became a 29-22 win. No word on what Guiton did after the game, however.

123. Cincinnati's yardage margin in a 29-23 loss to Toledo. The Bearcats outgained the Rockets, 478-355, but two killer interceptions gave Toledo a cushion it probably shouldn't have had, and Munchie Legaux's inconsistent passing (15-for-36 with the two picks) couldn't bring the Bearcats back.

123 (again). Colorado's current F/+ ranking. Here's your reminder that there are only 124 FBS teams. Just when you think the Buffs cannot sink any further, they do. They currently rank behind FBS newcomers Texas State (No. 92), South Alabama (No. 117), and UTSA (No. 122); UTSA did not even begin to play football until 2011 ... 21 years after Colorado's national title. The Buffs scored six points and averaged just 4.1 yards per play in a 50-6 loss to USC on Saturday ... despite the fact that USC played its third string long enough for 29 total defenders to log a stat in the box score.

140. Rushing yards gained in nine carries by Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota in the Ducks' 43-21 win over Arizona State. Oregon scored touchdowns on six consecutive drives in the first half (two on very short fields created by ASU turnovers), then threw it in cruise control (Mariota attempted to pass just 13 times). It's nice to be able to do that, I guess.

175. Yards gained by Kentucky in its first three drives against Georgia. Facing a Dawg defense without Jarvis Jones (who is probably the most valuable player in the country not named Collin Klein), the Wildcats got a little something going behind young quarterback Jalen Whitlow. Of course, the well dried up; after scoring 14 points in those three drives, UK gained just 154 yards the rest of the way and eventually lost, 29-24.

338. Rushing yards gained by New Mexico's Kasey Carrier in a 28-23 loss to Air Force. It boosted him all the way to second in the nation in rushing yards per game, and it earned him a spot in tomorrow's Heisman Horse Race Top 10, even if it did come against an absolutely wretched Air Force defense.

341. Rushing yards gained by Wisconsin backs James White (175 with three touchdowns) and Montee Ball (166 with two) in a 38-13 win over Minnesota. Don't look now, but Wisconsin has begun to look like Wisconsin again. And the Badgers have a 2.5-game lead (with five to play) over all other eligible teams in the Big Ten Leaders Division.

415. Passing yards gained by Oklahoma State's J.W. Walsh ... most of which evidently came with Walsh sporting a torn ACL he suffered in the first quarter. Oh, and he carried the ball eight times for 49 yards. There's tough, and then there's that.

925. Yards gained in two weeks by Syracuse against perhaps the two best defenses in the Big East, Rutgers and UConn. The Orange repeatedly shot themselves in the foot against Rutgers but scored an easy 40-10 win over UConn on Friday night. Ryan Nassib threw for 251 yards (12.6 per attempt), and Jerome Smith rushed for 133 (7.0 per carry), and at this point it might be safe to say that The 'Cuse has the conference's best offense. Of course, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater might have something to say about that. His Cardinals held off South Florida, 27-25, thanks to a nearly perfect quarterbacking performance; Bridgewater completed 21 of 25 passes for 256 yards and carried 10 times for 74 yards. USF was able to rather capably play keep-away from the dangerous Louisville offense (total plays: USF 82, Louisville 58), but Bridgewater eventually made the plays he needed to make to win.

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