3.2. Yards per play averaged by UConn in a 41-12 loss to Buffalo. After competitive losses to both Maryland and Michigan, I was willing to entertain the possibility that maybe the Huskies had recovered at least a little bit from their season-opening trouncing at the hands of Towson. Alas, they really, really had not.
Seriously, though, 68 plays for 220 yards. Receivers Geremy Davis and Deshon Foxx caught six of 10 passes for 151 yards; the other 58 plays gained 69 yards.
6. Fumbles by Oregon against California on Saturday night. The Ducks were lucky to lose only two of them (while recovering all four of Cal's fumbles), and quarterback Marcus Mariota in general had a pretty awful time throwing the ball: 11-for-25, 114 yards, two touchdowns, a sack, and a paltry average of just 4.2 yards per pass attempt. Receiver Bralon Addison caught just three of 10 passes for 13 yards. Generally speaking, it was just a pretty bad night for the Oregon offense all around, and--
--what's that? The Ducks still led 41-3 at halftime and rolled to a 55-16 win?
Goodness, Oregon's terrifying. With sloppy ball-handling and a shaky game from Mariota, Oregon still got 224 rushing yards from Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner and got two punt return touchdowns from Addison. And while there was certainly some fumbles luck involved in the scoring margin getting as large as it did, this game was never in doubt. Play poorly, win by 39.
This really needs to be the year we get an Alabama-Oregon title game. We've been waiting to see that matchup for most of the last three seasons.
16. Consecutive losses for Southern Miss. Average score in four losses this year: Opponent 40.5, Golden Eagles 9.5.
I mean ... what happened?? Southern Miss finished a 12-2 campaign in 2011, its 18th straight year with a winning season. And it hasn't won since.
29.7. Equivalent point value of the five consecutive turnovers suffered by UTSA to end its 59-28 loss to Houston. The Roadrunners scored to cut Houston's lead to 31-28, and here's how the rest of the game played out:
- Houston: 6 plays, 59 yards, TD
- UTSA: INT
- Houston: MFG
- UTSA: INT
- Houston: 7 plays, 54 yards, TD
- UTSA: Fumble
- Houston: punt
- UTSA: INT
- Houston: 1 play, 15 yards, TD
- UTSA: Pick-six
Houston scored 28 fourth-quarter points to turn a tight, competitive, in-state battle into a laugher.
TCU, meanwhile, scored 31 fourth-quarter points against SMU. The Horned Frogs' method of choice: special teams. SMU turned the ball over twice, but a 51-yard punt return set up a 20-yard touchdown drive, and with SMU still battling in the waning minutes, LaDarius Brown returned an onside kick attempt 45 yards. Score at the end of three quarters: 17-10 TCU. Score at the end of four: 48-17.
Of course, Purdue did basically the same thing as UTSA, without waiting until the end of the game. The Boilermakers outgained Northern Illinois, 524 to 402, and Boiler QBs Rob Henry and Danny Etling threw for 371 yards and three touchdowns. But they also threw four interceptions, and including a lost fumble, Purdue suffered turnovers with an equivalent point value of 29.6 points and lost by 31.
By the way? NIU is now 4-0, and the toughest game remaining on the schedule is probably a trip to Toledo. Fresno State isn't the only remaining BCS buster left.
Hey, speaking of Fresno...
34. Consecutive points scored by Hawaii against Fresno State in the final 21 minutes. FSU went up by a seemingly insurmountable 42-3 margin after everybody had gone to bed on Saturday night. To that point, the Bulldogs had gained 349 yards (5.9 per play) to Hawaii's 112 (2.5). But they then committed four turnovers, and Hawaii found fifth gear for the first time all season (hell, for the first time in two seasons): 36 plays, 319 yards, five touchdowns. And Hawaii actually did all of its scoring in a 14-minute span; there were almost eight minutes left on the clock when they cut the lead to 42-37. After trading punts, the Warriors got one last chance to win the game and actually advanced to the Fresno 40 in time to attempt two mini-Hail Mary passes.
Fresno State is addicted to crazy, basically. The Bulldogs trailed by 13 to Rutgers before tying the game with 38 seconds left and winning in overtime. They went up 34-0 on Cal Poly at halftime, then let the Mustangs go on a 25-7 run. They led Boise State by 12 late in the third quarter, then gave up 21 straight points before rallying with two minutes left. They are aggressive and chaotic and incredibly fun to watch, not only because of their exploits but because of their complete and total lack of focus at times.
And even with a seemingly navigable remaining schedule, one has to figure that this chaos-for-the-sake-of-chaos style will backfire eventually. Anybody up for a 76-70 overtime shootout at Wyoming on November 9?
37. Yards gained by Pittsburgh on its two scoring drives in a 14-3 win over Virginia. The Panthers scored on a four-play, 19-yard drive following a muffed punt, then went 18 yards in two plays following a UVa fumble. And that was pretty much it. The two teams combined to gain just 387 yards and average 2.8 yards per play for the game. Pitt freshman receiver Tyler Boyd caught seven of 10 passes for 111 yards. Everybody else in the game, for both teams, caught 21 of 58 passes for 203 yards. Oh yeah, and there were 10 sacks. You probably didn't see any of this game, and that's probably alright.
Really, poor passing was a bit of an epidemic on Saturday. Arizona's B.J. Denker averaged 3.0 yards per attempt against Washington (14-for-35, 119 yards, two picks, two sacks). At Football Outsiders on Friday, I wrote about how Arizona's ground game and defense were potentially solid enough for the Wildcats to overcome a poor passing game and produce decent results in 2013; maybe that will still be the case, but nothing could overcome that passing game on Saturday.
Other iffy performances: Kentucky's Maxwell Smith averaged 2.8 yards per attempt versus Florida (12-for-20, 90 yards, one interception, four sacks). In his first 22 pass attempts before a late surge, USF's Steven Bench averaged 2.5 yards (7-for-19, 71 yards, three sacks). Washington State's Connor Halliday and Austin Apodaca combined to average 4.5 yards per attempt (39-for-65, 322 yards, two scores, two interceptions, two sacks). ULM's Kolton Browning and Brayle Brown combined to average 4.7 per attempt versus Tulane's surprisingly outstanding pass defense. And of course, Notre Dame's Tommy Rees (9-for-24, 104 yards, two touchdowns, three picks, one sack) doesn't go without mention.
(Just as a palate-cleanser, the Duke-Troy and UNLV-New Mexico games combined for 2,175 yards and 167 points. And of course, there was LSU-Georgia, but we'll get to that one. There was still offense to be found on Saturday amid the wretched passing.)
45.1. Percentage of South Carolina's total yardage that came in the third quarter of a 28-25 win over UCF. In the first, second, and fourth quarters, the Gamecocks gained 269 yards, turned the ball over three times, and scored two short-field touchdowns. Quarterback Dylan Thompson, in the game for the injured Connor Shaw, was off-target, and a pretty good UCF team was providing vindication for anybody who doubted the Gamecocks as a top-10 caliber squad in the offseason. But the Knights didn't have much of an answer for running back Mike Davis, who rushed eight times for 84 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter and hammered out 167 yards for the game.
South Carolina survived despite leaking big plays in pass defense, despite once again failing to get a dominant push from the defensive line (tackles for loss: five, zero from Jadeveon Clowney), and despite getting only sporadic production from the passing game (261 yards passing, yes, but with only a 47 percent completion rate). Georgia's offense and Florida's defense have those two teams ahead of the pack in the SEC East race, and Carolina's got some catching up to do.
62.5. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger's completion rate on third-and-long against Georgia. With five or more yards to go on third down, the former Georgia QB completed five of eight passes for 147 yards and was sacked once. Average yards per attempt: 15.3. LSU scored 41 but lost anyway because the Tigers couldn't find anything to stop Georgia on first down.
95. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech played for 60 minutes on Thursday night, and the teams' running backs combined to gain 95 yards in a 17-10 Hokie win. I wouldn't have guessed that possible. Georgia Tech's Zach Laskey gained 43 yards in seven carries, three other GT RBs gained 51 in 17 ... and nine carries by Virginia Tech backs gained a single yard. That Hokie defense is incredible and could get even better with the return of star corner Antone Exum, but even with a temporarily competent passing attack on Thursday, the Virginia Tech offense tries its damnedest to get in the way. As we knew it would.
153. Yards gained by Ohio State on its first three drives versus Wisconsin. One of the biggest questions facing the Buckeyes before Saturday was what might happen if quarterback Braxton Miller struggled early. With Miller sitting out with a knee injury, backup Kenny Guiton played at a really, really high level, and there might be pressure on Urban Meyer to make a switch if Miller's first game back started slowly.
Instead, the opposite happened. The Buckeyes scored two touchdowns and averaged 10.2 yards per play early, then bogged down dramatically, gaining 237 yards and averaging 4.5 yards per play the rest of the way. Two short scoring drives (a 20-yard field goal drive, and a 32-yard touchdown drive following an interception) kept the Buckeyes ahead in an eventual 31-24 win, and while Miller's full-game stats were nothing spectacular, they were certainly fine: 7.1 yards per pass attempt (four touchdowns, two sacks, 68 percent completion rate) and 4.6 yards per carry (20 carries, 91 yards).
Other teams started fast but couldn't keep it up. Boston College gained 160 yards and scored 17 points in its first three drives versus Florida State but managed just 217 yards (4.6 per play) and 17 points thereafter. Meanwhile, after a slow start, Florida State gained 437 yards (8.7 per play) and scored 45 points after BC took an early 17-3 lead. And New Mexico State gained 137 yards and scored 10 points in two initial drives against San Diego State; the Aggies held a 16-5 lead at halftime, 16-11 after three quarters, but averaged just 3.0 yards per play after the initial surge and eventually succumbed.
230.5. Yards per game allowed by USC in the Trojans' first four contests of the season. They allowed 612 at Arizona State on Saturday. The offense actually got rolling at times in Tempe, but the defense got rolled after carrying the offense through much of September. ASU's Taylor Kelly completed 23 of 34 passes for 351 yards, three touchdowns, and a pick, and rushed four times for 79 yards. The run-and-catch combo of Marion Grice, D.J. Foster, and Deantre Lewis combined for 41 intended touches (26 carries, 15 targets, 10 catches), 293 yards, and six touchdowns. And Clancy Pendergast's aggressive, athletic (and young) defense broke down in every possible way.
1,000. Receiving yards gained by Alabama's Amari Cooper as a true freshman in 2012. His current pace, projected over a 14-game season: 350 yards. The sophomore has thus far been this season's Sammy Watkins, struggling with a nagging injury, extra attention and massive expectations and catching just nine of 23 passes for 100 yards in four games (well, three; he sat out the Colorado State game). Alabama hasn't needed him yet -- Christion Jones and DeAndrew White have caught 28 passes for 377 yards and three scores, and the Tide have only been seriously challenged once on the scoreboard. And hey, he started slowly last year as a true freshman working into the rotation (he had 138 yards after four games in 2012). But his production has to be a concern at this stage.