The Numerical, Week 11: Utah almost gave Arizona State the Stanford treatment

Gene Sweeney Jr.

The best college football stats of the weekend. We can explain the year's most mystifying loss by a title contender, Vanderbilt did unto Florida what Florida did unto others, and Alabama made LSU look like Michigan. Yikes.

1,262

Total yards in Indiana's 52-35 win over Illinois. It was the third straight game in which Indiana has given up at least 573 yards and the fifth time in 2013 that the Hoosiers allowed at least 500; meanwhile, the Hoosiers have also gained at least 475 yards in eight of nine games. Head coach Kevin Wilson is trying his damnedest to bring offense to this conference, so much that he's willing to put up yards on both sides of the ball.

In the end, Indiana won this game because it could not only pass, but run. Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase threw for 450 yards (442 after sacks), completing nine of 11 passes to Steve Hull for 224 yards. But not only did Indiana's Cody Latimer nearly match that total (12 targets, 11 catches, 189 yards), Hoosier backs Tevin Coleman and Stephen Houston combined for 365 rushing yards on 32 caries. The score was 28-28 with 18 minutes left before the Hoosiers pulled away.

657

Yards gained by Marshall in an easy 56-14 win over UAB. Now, that's not altogether surprising since Marshall averages 494 yards per game and UAB's defense is terrible. Marshall has one of the most high-paced attacks in the country, and the yards and points usually roll up pretty quickly.

The surprising part: Marshall did this in 52 plays. FIFTY-TWO. UAB tried its damnedest to play keep-away, rushing 56 times (even while losing big) and milking 39 minutes of clock. But Marshall averaged a ridiculous 12.6 yards per play and dominated anyway.

184

Total yards for UTEP in a 41-7 loss to North Texas.

Stacy Revere, Getty

183

Total yards for Vanderbilt in a dominant 34-17 win over Florida. Vandy basically pulled on Florida what Florida pulled on South Carolina last season: scoring on drives of four, six, 10, and 22 yards, destroying the Gators in field position (average starting field position: Vanderbilt 48, Florida 25), and forcing four turnovers.

Florida really is going to finish 5-7 this year. And that's only if the Gators can find 22 healthy bodies to take the field and beat Georgia Southern in two weeks.

87

Cincinnati's current F/+ ranking. How is it possible for a 7-2 team in a BCS conference to rank below Florida Atlantic (No. 77) and South Alabama (No. 69), mid-majors with losing records? To answer this, let's step in to the rest of the F/+ universe.

Thus far, Tommy Tuberville's Bearcats have beaten the following teams:

  • FCS Northwestern State (66-9)
  • No. 123 Miami-Ohio (14-0)
  • No. 113 Purdue (42-7)
  • No. 110 Temple (38-20)
  • No. 102 UConn (41-16)
  • No. 86 SMU (28-25)
  • No. 60 Memphis (34-21)

They also lost to No. 67 Illinois (45-17) and No. 99 USF (26-20). So basically, against teams ranked better than 80th, Cincy has been outscored, 66-51. And against teams ranked between 81st and 100th, Cincy has been outscored, 51-48. Obviously 87th feels a little low to me, but ... not very much. This team is not good, which disappoints me considering my preseason expectations.

68

Yards gained by Baylor in its first 30 plays against Oklahoma. The Bears gained 391 in the next 50. Thanks to a hyped, aggressive defense, Baylor trailed by only two points (5-3) after the early struggles, and then the early struggles ended. Art Briles' squad would be smart not to try that again, especially at Oklahoma State in two weeks; OSU's offense has its own issues, but the defense is fast and opportunistic, and BU could very well find itself behind by two touchdowns if it messes around like that again. Then again, with the ninth-ranked defense in the country (!!!!!), the Bears do have some solid margin for error.

Yes, ninth. Baylor has the No. 9 defense in the country. Baylor. Neither you, I, nor the most homerific Baylor fan saw that coming. Now the Bears just have to keep it up.

55

(Miami's Stephen Morris did the same thing, only double. He completed two passes for 165 yards and two scores. His other 30 pass attempts gained 139 yards.)

Utah damn near beat a strong Arizona State squad, losing by just one point (20-19) at home. That's incredible considering Wilson's passing line: 6-for-21 for 121 yards, two touchdowns, two picks, and four sacks. But while Wilson has had a few passing lines like that this season, Utah sucked ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly down to that level, too: 19-for-31 for 144 yards, a touchdown and six sacks. Average yards per pass attempt: Wilson 4.3, Kelly 2.9.

Stanford's loss to Utah, by the way, isn't as bad as we want to think.

Wilson fascinates me. He has thrown 16 touchdown passes, averages nearly 14 yards per completion, and has lumbered for 474 pre-sack rushing yards. He has also taken 17 sacks and thrown 16 interceptions. And against the opponent most capable of forcing mistakes -- Stanford -- he made almost none and led the Utes to a win, one that is very much holding the Cardinal back in the national title discussion. Wilson is at once the worst and second-best quarterback in the Pac-12.

Stanford's loss to Utah, by the way, isn't as bad as we want to think. Yes, the Utes are 4-5. But again, within the F/+ universe, those losses came to teams ranked sixth, ninth, 24th, 31st, and 42nd. Meanwhile, the Utes have beaten teams ranked third, 16th, and 36th. Average score vs. top-20 teams: Opponent 18.3, Utah 17.3. Average score vs. teams ranked 24th-42nd: Opponent 36.5, Utah 32.3. The Utes are confusing, and they're 4-5, but they're pretty damn good ... especially on those plays where Good Travis shows up.

Meanwhile, Kelly wasn't the only player to generate an awful stat line in a win. Auburn's Nick Marshall completed just three of seven passes for 35 yards, a score, a pick, and a sack, averaging 3.5 yards per attempt. Vandy's Patton Robinette, in the aforementioned blowout of Florida, completed six of 12 passes and was sacked twice; yards per attempt: 3.0.

And, of course, there was New Mexico; UNM quarterbacks Cole Gautche and Clayton Mitchem combined to complete one of three passes for 28 yards and took two sacks for 16 yards. Net yards in five attempts: 12 yards. (Gautche also combined with Kasey Carrier to rush for 319 yards in a 45-37 win over Air Force.)

20.6

Percentage of Dorial Green-Beckham's 68 career receptions that have gone for touchdowns. Missouri's five-star sophomore caught 28 passes for 395 and five scores last year, and he's caught 40 passes for 579 yards and nine scores this year. He has certainly showed some big-play capability at times in his career, with 11 of 68 catches going for at least 25 yards; but he has most firmly established himself as a red zone terror in an offense full of weapons.

He caught seven of seven passes for 100 yards and four scores in a 48-17 Missouri win over Kentucky on Saturday; the first three came on fade routes like this one...

Before

After

...and the fourth came when he faked a fade and scored on an easy slant. We'll see if this is a breakout game of sorts for DGB; we'll also see if Missouri even needs for it to be. While opposing safeties' eyes have wandered toward DGB for most of the year, L'Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas, fellow big wideouts, have combined for 82 catches, 1,211 yards, and 11 touchdowns.

12.1

Average possessions per game for Oregon during the Ducks' first eight games of 2013. That's actually lower than I'd have thought. Regardless, the Ducks got only eight possessions against Stanford, not including their "possession" of the ball during their fourth-quarter blocked punt return. When you're playing against a team that limits possessions like that, every mistake is like 150 percent of a normal mistake. So instead of blowing three scoring opportunities in the first half with two turnovers and a turnover on downs, it had the effect of about 4.5 blown chances. Go figure: It's hard to beat a top-five team when you blow opportunities on nearly 40 percent of your possessions.

Again, Oregon doesn't have a Stanford problem. On Thursday, the Ducks simply had a mistakes problem.

And no, Oregon was not the only team to hand away a chance to win over the weekend. Notre Dame made seven trips inside the 40, while Pittsburgh made only five. But while Pitt scored four touchdowns on five trips, the Irish missed a field goal, turned the ball over twice (including one on an old-school Tommy Rees pick from the Pitt 4), and turned the ball over on downs. Notre Dame, predictably, did not win.

Western Michigan, meanwhile, made 11 trips inside Eastern Michigan's 40 on 12 total possessions; that should have resulted in a blowout win, but this is WMU. The Broncos settled for six field goals, scored two touchdowns, punted twice and turned the ball over once. Points per trip: 2.9. Meanwhile, EMU made just five trips inside WMU's 40, scored touchdowns on all five trips, and won in overtime.

Either team in the UCF-Houston game could have pulled away with an easy win had they made the most of their opportunities. but in 12 combined trips inside the 40, the teams combined for four touchdowns, three turnovers, three field goal attempts (one missed), and two turnovers on downs. UCF won, 19-14, by attrition as much as anything else.

Of course, leave it to FIU to paint the week's masterpiece. Against Middle Tennessee, the Golden Panthers advanced inside the Blue Raiders' 40 on four of their first five possessions. They lost two fumbles, missed a field goal, and turned the ball over on downs. They gained just 52 yards after that, missed a field goal late for good measure, and almost literally handed MTSU its first shutout win since 2006.

10

Years since Minnesota had started 8-2. In 2003, the Gophers got to 9-2 before a late loss at Iowa, then took down Oregon in an exciting Sun Bowl. If they keep this up in this year's Big Ten, Jerry Kill's 8-2 Gophers might end up in a much better bowl than the Sun.

This is only Minnesota's fourth eight-win season since 1967, and the Gophers have pulled it off by basically not being bad at anything (59th in Off. F/+, 50th in Def. F/+) and by closing games well. They're 2-0 in one-possession games, and they made all the late plays in double-digit wins over Penn State, Nebraska, and San Jose State. Dance, Coach Kill. Dance like nobody's watching.

7.5

Georgia is averaging 7.5 yards per play on drives in which [Todd] Gurley touches the ball. On drives in which he doesn’t touch the ball, it drops to 5.9 yards per play.

(via)

Stay healthy, big man.

5

FBS teams that are still winless: Georgia State, Hawaii, Miami (Ohio), Southern Miss (losers of 21 straight), and UConn.

4.1

Yards per play averaged by Florida State in a 59-3 win over Wake Forest. It's difficult to learn absolutely nothing about an offense over the course of 60 minutes, but that was the case here. Wake committed seven turnovers worth a staggering 43.1 equivalent points, setting FSU up for scoring drives of 40, 28, 15, 5, 2, 0, and 0 yards. (FSU scored on a kick return touchdown as well, just for good measure.)

4

Return touchdowns (one for N.C. State, three for Duke's DeVon Edwards) in Duke's strange 38-20 win over N.C. State.

2.5

Yards per carry for Michigan's Fitzgerald Toussaint and Derrick Green over the last four games. If you take out an average performance against Indiana -- and really, averaging 4.5 yards per carry versus Indiana is like averaging 2.0 against a normal defense -- Toussaint and Green gained 65 yards in 55 carries against Penn State, Michigan State, and Nebraska. That's 1.2 yards per carry.

How is that even possible?

Meanwhile, against Alabama, LSU's Jeremy Hill, Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard might as well have been wearing maize and blue. The three combined for 74 yards in 23 carries, and despite some passing heroics from LSU's Zach Mettenberger, eventually passing downs (and an Alabama fake punt) got the best of the Bayou Bengals. Alabama's T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake gained 198 yards in 35 carries, and Alabama pulled away, 38-17.

1

All-time FBS wins for Old Dominion following the Monarchs' 59-38 win at Idaho. (Yes, that counts.) ODU, a provisional FBS team in 2013, was getting close with competitive losses to East Carolina and Pittsburgh. But the Monarchs got the job done in the Kibbie Dome.

0

Week 11 stat lines better than that of UCLA linebacker and reigning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week, Myles Jack. In a tight, 31-26 win over Arizona, Jack carried six times for 120 yards and a touchdown, made eight solo tackles (one for a loss), recovered a fumble, and broke up two passes. If only the game hadn't been close -- Jim Mora, Jr., could have had him return a punt or attempt a PAT, just for good measure.

0, also

Arkansas wins since this tweet. That was seven games ago. Wisconsin, meanwhile? Winners of five of six and, according to the numbers, the No. 8 team in the country.

More from SB Nation college football:

Week 12 schedule full of big conference games

Fresno State, the disappointing BCS-buster

Bowl projections: Bama-FSU and 34 other games

Stanford, Auburn, OSU favored in next week’s big games

Long reads: Has Baylor crafted the ultimate football offense?

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