Week in which I will be sporting some sort of Auburn-related goodness for my Twitter avatar. From a September game preview:
In my 2013 Auburn preview, I relayed a story about a chat with a fellow sports writer (Hoops World's Nate Duncan) in which he asked me about Auburn's chances this year, and I responded with "No." The friend for whom he was asking offered to make a "Winner chooses loser's Twitter avatar" bet with me: If Auburn reaches seven wins, he wins. I was hoping for a regular-season-only agreement since bowls are such a crapshoot, but in the end, there's a decent chance I'll have an AU avatar for a little while this winter. I guess there are worse fates.
I figured the Ole Miss game was the difference-maker, and it probably was, but the win over Texas A&M last week was icing on the cake. I had accepted defeat long before Auburn's romp of FAU on Saturday.
Hey, power to the Tigers. The offense is improving, the defense has improved, and the Tigers are a 2010-esque 4-0 in games decided by one possession. I don't think they're a legit top-10 team by any means, but ... I didn't think they'd win seven games either. My opinion is moot when it comes to the team on the Plains in 2013.
Approximate hang time, in seconds, of Jake Rudock's eight-yard, overtime touchdown pass to C.J. Fiedorowicz.
Iowa's win was in no way aesthetically pleasing, and it led to the fourth straight loss for Northwestern, but the Hawkeyes decided to forego aesthetics years ago. After last season's 3-9 tailspin, wins are all that matter, and Iowa is one win away from returning to bowl eligibility. I can't say Kirk Ferentz has done an amazing job this year, but his program is not dead, that much is certain.
Points per game now allowed by Alabama since returning from its mid-September trip to College Station. That average skyrocketed a whole 35 percent from last week's 3.2 average, thanks to 10 garbage time points from Tennessee on Saturday. Life is hard in Tuscaloosa.
Yards by which Abilene Christian fell short on Saturday.
My first reaction to this play was "Poor Abilene Christian." That's the incorrect reaction. ACU was a Division II team in the Lone Star Conference just one year ago, a 7-4 Division II team, actually. A year ago this week, the Wildcats were scraping by Texas A&M-Commerce after losses to West Texas A&M and Midwestern State. They moved up to provisional FCS status this year and very nearly beat New Mexico State, a school in its 80th year of residence at the FBS level.
The proper reaction is not "Poor Abilene Christian." It's "Poor New Mexico State."
Baylor players who gained at least 50 yards from scrimmage in the Bears' 59-14 win over Kansas.
- Tevin Reese: seven targets, four catches, 110 yards, two touchdowns
- Lache Seastrunk: 13 carries, 109 yards, one touchdown
- Shock Linwood: nine carries, 106 yards, two touchdowns
- Levi Norwood: five targets, four catches, 66 yards
- Corey Coleman: five targets, two catches, 66 yards, one touchdown
- Jay Lee: seven targets, two catches, 56 yards
- Glasco Martin: 11 carries, 55 yards, one touchdown
- Robbie Rhodes: one target, one catch, 52 yards
A ninth, Clay Fuller, gained 44 yards. Kansas, by the way? Two guys over 50 yards.
Baylor gained 15 yards in its first nine plays on Saturday, then gained 727 in its next 71. If the Bears didn't still have higher aspirations, I'd mention that we owe it to ourselves to see Baylor and Michigan State on the same field at the same time. One team playing basketball, the other playing rugby.
Baylor's ridiculous surge distracted from another good one. Arizona trailed Colorado, 13-10, late in the second quarter on Saturday, but in a seven-drive span the Wildcats gained 425 yards (12.9 per play) and turned a surprisingly tight game into a 44-20 laugher. Colorado held Ka'Deem Carey in check, relatively speaking (his 119 rushing yards are the fewest in 10 games for Carey), but had no eventual answer for quarterback B.J. Denker, who threw for 265 yards (8.3 per attempt) and rushed for 192 (12.8 per carry).
Screen passes completed by South Carolina in its 27-24 comeback win over Missouri.
South Carolina's final screen tally vs. Missouri - 9 for 116 yards (12.9 average), 5 first downs.— David Morrison (@DavidCMorrison) October 29, 2013
What's funny* is, Missouri doesn't necessarily blitz very much, preferring to harass the quarterback with three to four strong pass-rushers and hold steady with the linebackers. A lot of these screens worked, not because the linebackers were blitzing and getting exposed, but because South Carolina running back Mike Davis would just shake off the linebacker anyway. Funnily* enough, Missouri rather impressively held Davis to 51 rushing yards in 19 carries. Tell me that before the game, and I assume Mizzou wins by 17. But Davis' 10 catches for 99 yards, supplemented of course by timely throws from Connor Shaw to Bruce Ellington, brought the 'Cocks back.
* By "funny" in this case, I mean "Walter White breaking down and laughing maniacally" funny. You either start laughing or you go right back to crying like you have been since Saturday night. Let's just move on.
SMU's deficit to Temple 29 minutes into an eventual 59-49 win. The Mustangs trailed, 28-7, with a minute to go in the first half, and upon seeing the score I told a friend of mine, "They've got them right where they want them." Sure enough, they went on a 52-14 run over the next 29 minutes and pulled away for a double-digit win.
This was the third time in 2013 that SMU has fallen behind by at least 17 points and come back to either win or send the game to overtime. June Jones' Mustangs trailed Montana State by a 22-5 margin with six minutes left in the first half before coming back to win, 31-30; they also trailed Rutgers, 35-14, with 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter before surging back to force overtime and eventually fall, 55-52. Meanwhile, they also almost blew a 34-3 lead late in a 34-29 win over Memphis. There's no need to watch the first three quarters of an SMU game, but you damn sure better find a place to watch the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, Hawaii is basically a poor man's SMU. The Rainbow Warriors are a cool 0-7 at the moment despite a plus-31 scoring margin in the fourth quarter. With nothing to lose, Hawaii catches fire. The problem, of course, is that it's hard to win when your scoring margin for the first three quarters is minus-113. Play the whole game like the last 10 minutes, Warriors.
Non-garbage time plays in the Florida State-NC State game. For stat purposes, I define the following as garbage time: any plays that take place when the scoring margin is greater than 16 points in the fourth quarter, greater than 21 points in the third, greater than 24 points in the second, or greater than 28 points in the first. At that point, a team has, at worst, about a 97 percent chance of winning when up by that margin at that time**. Florida State was up, 35-0, 13 minutes into the game. The Seminoles ran 19 plays (success rate: 79 percent) to NC State's 16 (six percent), and Jameis Winston started the game by completing 11 of 14 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns.
** Yes, Missouri was up 17 points in the fourth quarter. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
FSU made Alabama's and Texas A&M's quick work look pedestrian in comparison. After one quarter against Vanderbilt, A&M only led Vandy by 21 points with a 236-40 yardage margin. Pssh.
Years since UL Lafayette won an outright conference title. Russ Faulkinberry's 1970 Ragin' Cajuns stormed undefeated through the Gulf Coast Conference, taking out conference (and state) mates SE Louisiana, Louisiana Tech, NE Louisiana (now ULM) early in the year and holding off Northwestern State and McNeese State on the road late. Their reward: a trip to the Grantland Rice Bowl in Baton Rouge, where they lost by a point to Tennessee State.
This is notable because, after mid-week wins over both Western Kentucky and Arkansas State, the Cajuns are very much in the Sun Belt driver's seat, 3-0 and with two of the highest hurdles already cleared.
Points per game allowed by Iowa State in Big 12 play thus far. The Cyclones are still almost 2-2 in conference thanks to a controversial 31-30 loss to Texas and a tight 42-35 loss to Texas Tech, and that average was certainly jolted by having to play at Baylor (which scored 71 points on the 'Clones a week ago). Still, that's ... not good. And ISU is indeed 0-4.
Connor Cook's completion percentage in Michigan State's 42-3 win over Illinois. He went 15-for-16 for 208 yards, three touchdowns, and two sacks, and even with a total egg-laying against Purdue last week, he's completed 65 percent of his passes for 832 yards, eight scores, and two picks since a 16-for-36 dud against Notre Dame. With that defense, Michigan State doesn't need an incredible offense to win a lot of games; the Spartans just need competence. Purdue aside, they've gotten it as of late.
Houston's John O'Korn, by the way, completed 80 percent of his passes as well. He was 24-for-30 for 364 yards, five touchdowns and, yes, four sacks, in a rather surprising 49-14 win over Rutgers. Yes, Rutgers is all sorts of screwed at cornerback right now, and no, that's not a very good thing for facing the Houston offense. Still, O'Korn's a true freshman, and Houston's 6-1. That's impressive. The Cougars could make the AAC race awfully messy with a November upset of UCF, but they face both UCF and Louisville away from home, so that might be asking too much.
Percent of conference games won by Texas so far. You realize they're going to figure out a way to ruin Baylor's season, right?
Those scrappy underdogs from Austin are pulling a veritable 1995 Northwestern, getting hot in conference play after a sketchy start (NU lost to Miami (Ohio), after all). They smoked poor TCU this weekend, 30-7, outgaining the Horned Frogs by 169 yards, limiting Casey Pachall to 13-for-34 passing and 3.9 yards per attempt (including sacks) in his return to action; and when Pachall wasn't in, the 'Horns were limiting Trevone Boykin to 0.3 yards per attempt. No, seriously. 0.3. He completed three of four passes for 24 yards and was sacked twice for a loss of 22.
It's hard to figure out exactly how good Texas is right now, but it's not debatable that both the defense and Case McCoy (still starting for the injured David Ash) have improved quite a bit in recent weeks, even if McCoy looked far from amazing against the strong TCU pass defense.
At the very least, TCU wasn't alone in its complete passing ineptitude in Week 9.
- Utah's Travis Wilson averaged 1.6 yards per attempt in a 19-3 loss to USC: 5-for-14 for 51 yards, two picks, and three sacks for 23 yards. His replacement, Adam Schultz, averaged just 2.4 (7-for-17 for 79 yards, a pick and three sacks for 21). USC quarterback Cody Kessler averaged only 4.9 per attempt, but that was Heisman-worthy in comparison.
- Oregon State's Sean Mannion, the nation's passing leader, averaged just 3.2 yards per attempt versus Stanford, mainly because a) his 41 completions didn't go anywhere (6.6 yards per completion) and b) he got sacked eight times. Even so, Oregon State made eight trips inside Stanford's 40 and came away with all of 12 points thanks to four turnovers on downs, a punt, two field goals, and a missed PAT. Stanford's Kevin Hogan (3.7 per attempt) was pretty terrible, but running back Tyler Gaffney carried the load, and in half as many scoring opportunities (four), Stanford scored eight more points. There are more reasons to believe in Stanford's defense now than a week ago, and there are just as many more reasons to doubt Stanford's offense.
- Miami (Ohio)'s quarterbacks averaged 3.0 yards per attempt in a 41-16 loss to Ohio: 15-for-34 for 155 yards, a touchdown, an interception, and seven sacks for 32 yards. Austin Boucher was sacked three times and still led the Redhawks in rushing with all of 22 yards.
- USF's three quarterbacks averaged 3.3 yards per attempt in a 34-3 loss to Louisville. Bobby Eveld brought up the rear: 3-for-5 for 22 yards and three sacks for eight.
- FIU's Jake Medlock averaged 3.3 per attempt in a 23-7 loss to Louisiana Tech: 11-for-26 for 128 yards, a touchdown, two picks and five sacks for 26 yards. Louisiana Tech averaged a pretty awful 4.2 yards per play but was the best offense on the field by a wide margin.
- Penn State's Christian Hackenberg averaged 3.4 yards per attempt in a 63-14 loss to an angry Ohio State squad: 12-for-23 for 112 yards, a touchdown, two picks, and four sacks for 21 yards. (At least he didn't waste a good day; the Nittany Lions had no chance against the Buckeyes either way.)
- UConn's Tim Boyle and Casey Cochran averaged 3.8 yards per attempt in a 62-17 destruction at the hands of UCF: 14-for-32 for 142 yards, a touchdown, two interceptions, and two sacks for 14 yards.
- Tulane's Devin Powell and Tulsa's Dane Evans combined to average 4.3 per attempt in a 14-7 Tulane win.
But at least Dana Holgorsen was around to remind us what a good passing game looks like. And by that, I mean his West Virginia offense allowed Kansas State to average 13.0 yards per attempt in a 35-12 loss. This year hasn't been much fun for Holgo.
Receiving yards for Maryland sophomore Levern Jacobs in the first 19 games of his Terrapin career. He has 236 in the last two weeks; he caught eight of 13 passes for 158 yards in a tighter-than-expected 40-27 loss to Clemson, and at the very least, he could give Maryland a pretty incredible 1-2-3 punch next year if or when Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, both injured for the season, return to full strength. (Here's where I almost made an "At least until all three of them get hurt in Week 3 of 2014" comment, but it made me too sad.)
Combined listed weight of Texas Tech's Jakeem Grant (5'6, 160) and Oklahoma's Jalen Saunders (5'9, 157), or about the size of a left guard. But the two made the Texas Tech-Oklahoma game all sorts of fun. Grant caught nine of 12 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown and carried once for 14 yards. Saunders, meanwhile, caught six of six passes for 153 yards and two scores, carrying the Sooners to a 38-30 win. Both Grant and Saunders are the type of players you should throw an inside screen to once per quarter, just so you can shout, "ENTERTAIN ME." They entertained on Saturday.