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The numbers that mattered the most in Week 4 of the 2012 college football season.
1,109. Combined total yardage from Baylor's 47-42 win over Louisiana-Monroe on Friday night. It was everything we could have hoped for (more, actually: we didn't know a two-quarterback formation was on the way). Both teams gained more than the combined total of the Boise State-BYU game the night before. By the way, Baylor plays West Virginia this coming weekend. Baylor plays West Virginia this coming weekend!
346. Yards gained in 20 touches by Oregon State receivers Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks in a 27-20 road upset of UCLA. The two caught 15 of 17 passes for 325 yards and two touchdowns and gained another 21 yards on the ground in three carries. These totals represented almost 70 percent of OSU's total yardage, and it built them enough of a cushion to withstand a late Bruin surge and remain undefeated.
246. Yards gained, in 34 touches, by Nevada's Stefphon Jefferson in scoring seven touchdowns against Hawaii late on Saturday night. Jefferson carried 31 times for 170 yards, caught three passes for 76 yards, and, yes, single-handedly scored more points than Boise State, BYU, Notre Dame and Michigan combined.
147. Receiving yards gained by Wisconsin receiver Jared Abbrederis in his return after missing one and a half games with a chest injury. With six catches in eight targets, he helped new starting quarterback Joel Stave find a rhythm and led the Badgers to a 37-26 win over UTEP despite the loss of running back Montee Ball to a head injury.
99. Yards by which Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova exceeded his previous career high in throwing for 397 yards and five touchdowns in a 35-26 win over Arkansas. Nova threw for 298 against UConn last year as a freshman, but now he has a new line for the resume. Rutgers' offensive output has improved in each of four games thus far (309 yards versus Tulane, 321 versus Howard, 424 versus South Florida, 525 versus Arkansas), but Arkansas' defense is also really, really bad. I was highly skeptical of the Hogs entering 2012 … but not "three home losses in September" skeptical.
41. Yards gained by Florida Atlantic in its first 30 plays versus the Alabama defense. The Owls eventually broke through against the scrubs, scoring on a late, 15-play drive to make the final score, 40-7; but they were as helpless as we assumed they would be over the first three-plus quarters.
32. Projected tackles for loss for Texas A&M's Damontre Moore if he can maintain his current pace. The Aggie end had 3.0 TFLs against Florida and a combined 5.0 in less-than-full games against SMU and S.C. State; he is a one-man wrecking crew, and his upside makes A&M a very intriguing team.
26. The size of Ole Miss' lead after one quarter at Tulane. The Rebels eventually won, 39-0, but they did all the damage they needed to do in 15 minutes, gaining 183 yards (8.3 per play) to Tulane's 14 (0.9) and going up, 26-0. These last three weeks have seen some impressive swings from Ole Miss: they beat UTEP by 18, lost to Texas by 31, and beat Tulane by 39. Let's just say that we could see an even more forceful swing the other direction this Saturday: the Rebs travel to Tuscaloosa. Arizona State, meanwhile, got off to a fast start of its own. In a 37-7 romp over Utah, the Sun Devils gained 310 yards (9.4 per play) in their first four drives, scored 24 points and coasted to a surprisingly easy victory.
19.5. Sack rate for the USC defense against poor Cal quarterback Zach Maynard in a 27-9 Trojan win. Maynard completed 18 of 33 passes for 173 yards, but he was not only picked off twice, but also sacked EIGHT TIMES (three times by Morgan Breslin alone) for a loss of 52 yards. USC turned the ball over three times to keep Cal in the game somewhat, but it is difficult to sustain a drive when a) you can't run the ball (Isi Sofele gained 16 yards on eight carries, b) you basically have one target (Keenan Allen was the intended recipient of 15 of Maynard's 33 passes) and c) your quarterback ends up on his back once for every five pass attempts.
17.4. Value, in equivalent points, of Oklahoma's three turnovers in the Sooners' 24-19 home loss to Kansas State. The Sooners lost fumbles at their own 1 (returned for a touchdown) and at Kansas State's 6, and that gave the Wildcats enough of a cushion to become the first ranked team in approximately a millennia to win in Norman. Make no mistake: on a per-play basis, K-State (er, sorry, Kansas State University) outdid the Sooners (5.6 to 5.5) and played perfect keepaway offense. But the turnovers pushed them over the top. For the time being, Sooner Magic™ has disappeared; plus, it seems Bill Snyder has another team capable of making exactly the play it needs to at exactly the right time, and nothing more. Another year, another act of numbers-hating wizardry on Snyder's part. It seems unsustainable, and it probably is (Collin Klein is a senior, after all), but ... Snyder and company have sustained this play for over a year now.
14. Tackles for loss made by LSU in the Tigers' 12-10 win over Auburn. The game was closer than anticipated thanks to an inconsistent LSU offense, but the defense did its job, holding Auburn to a paltry 183 yards and sending the Other Tigers backwards as much as possible. Sam Montgomery was incredible -- 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one safety (in a two-point win, no less) -- but he had help: nine other Bayou Bengals took part in at least one TFL. Nebraska, meanwhile, managed 15 TFLs against Idaho State, but not even Auburn has an offense worse than ISU's, so that one doesn't get you as far.
11.8. Yards per play averaged by Florida State in the 20 minutes after Clemson took a 28-14 lead. The Seminoles trailed by two touchdowns just three minutes into the second half, then hit the accelerator, making a 35-3 run and gaining 308 yards in just 26 plays. The offense wasn't exactly struggling before -- the 'Noles were already averaging 7.9 yards per play when the run started -- but they found fifth gear just in time to turn a potential home loss into a statement win. Of course, they were outdone in this regard by Colorado, of all teams; the Buffaloes trailed Washington State, 31-14, when they took the ball at their 8-yard line with 8:07 remaining in the game. In their next three drives, they gained 237 yards in 19 plays (to that point, they had gained 294 in 61) to surge past a shell-shocked Wazzu squad and win, 35-34. All of Mike Leach's occasionally stubborn tendencies at Texas Tech -- consistently forgoing an easy gain on the ground even when opponents are dropping nine defenders into coverage -- reappeared in this one, and the suddenly (and probably temporarily) potent CU offense took full advantage.
10. Total fumbles in Louisiana Tech's 52-24 win over Illinois. Tech recovered seven of them and won comfortably despite only actually outgaining the Illini, 403 to 324. Illinois' six turnovers were both ridiculous and impossible to overcome.
7. Trips made by Arizona inside Oregon's 40-yard line. That the Wildcats managed to score zero total points in these trips is actually more impressive than if they had scored every time. Arizona turned the ball over three times, turned the ball over on downs three more times, and missed a field goal in losing, 45-0. They actually made MORE trips inside Oregon's 40 than Oregon did Arizona's … and they lost by 45. Though nobody could top Arizona's odd feat, failed trips into opposition territory was one of the major themes of the weekend. Vanderbilt pierced Georgia's 40 five times and scored three points in a 48-3 loss. Michigan State scored only 23 points in six trips inside EMU's 40 and won by far fewer than it should have. Syracuse and Minnesota combined for 10 trips inside opposition 40 … and scored just 27 points combined (Syracuse turned the ball over three times, while Minnesota lost two field goals; Minnesota won, 17-10). And UAB actually made more trips inside the 40 (six) than Ohio State did (four), but had to settle for four field goals (they made three) and turned the ball over on downs once. Ohio State scored touchdowns on all four of its trips and won, 29-15. It isn't enough to create opportunities, boys and girls; you also have to convert them.
6. Consecutive Michigan possessions that resulted in a turnover during a 13-6 loss to Notre Dame. The Wolverines held the Irish to 239 total yards, but in a game that saw eight of 20 possessions end in a turnover, Michigan was done in by itself. Well, Manti Te'o (5.5 tackles, one tackle for loss, two interceptions) had something to do with it, too. Denard Robinson completed 11 passes to his team and four to the other team. (Of course, BYU's Riley Nelson scoffs at that ration: he completed three passes to his team and four to Boise State on Friday night.)
5.4. Yards per play averaged by Maryland in a 31-21 loss to West Virginia. Yes, WVU could have been attempting a blank-canvas win of sorts over the super-young Terps, but that is still a bit more than you would like to see WVU allowing as it prepares for its first action in the Big 12 conference. Transitive property says that if WVU allowed 5.4 yards per play to Maryland, they will allow a touchdown on every snap against Baylor this coming Saturday.
5. Failed Boise State fourth-down conversions in a 7-6 win over BYU, four of which happened in field goal range. The Broncos have been bitten by place-kicking issues in in each of the last two years, but the problems have gone nuclear in 2012; after Michael Frisina missed a 33-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter, head coach Chris Petersen elected to go for it on fourth-and-4 from the BYU 24 (incomplete pass to Matt Miller), on fourth-and-7 from the BYU 20 (incomplete to Miller), on fourth-and-1 from the BYU 1 (Joe Southwick stuffed by Kyle Van Noy), and on fourth-and-5 from the BYU 30 (Southwick stopped for a four-yard gain). The failed conversions turned a potential blowout (BYU gained just 200 yards of offense and suffered five turnovers worth 28.0 equivalent points) into a near-loss.
3. Acts involved in Miami's 42-36 win over Georgia Tech. Act I: Miami races to a 19-0 lead in the first quarter. Act II: Georgia Tech responds with the next 36 points to take a 17-point lead. Act III: Miami scores the final 23 points of the game, including the 25-yard run by Mike James that won the game in overtime. Final tally: 1,028 yards and, somehow, just two lead changes.
2. Penn State running backs with last names starting with "Z" who played a prevalent role in the Nittany Lions' 24-13 win over Temple. Zach Zwinak and Michael Zordich combined to gain 169 yards on 33 carries and catch five passes for 51 yards, pacing PSU to nearly 500 yards of offense and extending the program's undefeated streak over Temple to 38 games. The last time Temple beat Penn State was on October 18, 1941.
1. Passes that left South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw's hand and actually hit the ground in a 31-10 win over Missouri. Shaw completed 20 of 21 passes (his only incompletion came in the first drive, like a pitcher who gives up a double with one out in the first inning and pitches a perfect game the rest of the way), and while a majority were dump-offs directed at running back Marcus Lattimore and Justice Cunningham, he was right on the money when he did choose to go downfield as well. It was still a sign that whatever shoulder issues Shaw was experiencing through most of the season's first month are a thing of the past. He looked incredible.
-64. Southern Miss' current scoring margin. The Golden Eagles are 0-3 following a 42-17 pasting at the hands of Western Kentucky, and they have been mostly hopeless in head coach Ellis Johnson's first season succeeding Larry Fedora. USM lost a ton of talent on both sides of the ball from last year's Conference USA championship squad, but still … they have looked really, really bad so far in 2012.
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