Second Halves Are Ducky. Oregon will be a fixture in this feature until the Ducks start being boring. This week, I highlight their second half dominance: Oregon has outscored opponents 114-7 in the second half this season, conceding just one touchdown to Arizona State last week, and has outscored opponents 72-7 in the third quarter and 42-0 in the fourth.
I would also rag on LaMichael James' inability to do more than break long touchdown runs and gain no more than a few yards on the rest of his carries, but he slashed through Stanford's defense for seven runs of double-digit yardage on the night, and rolled up 257 yards, tied for the third-best performance in FBS this year.
Moonlight Graham. Pitt's Dion Lewis was, briefly, considered a strong Heisman candidate this year. (I know, right? Preseason predictions are crazy, man!) But he was out with an injured shoulder this week, and all but got Wally Pipped.
Ray Graham, a sophomore who's backed up Lewis for two years, rushed for 277 yards against Florida International, the best total in FBS this season. He's averaging 9.46 yards per carry on the season, too, which is a fantastic mark, but only good for second in the country. Personally, I'm happier that a Graham moonlighted and starred. That appeals to the kid astronomer in me who learned way too much about Encke's Comet.
Denard, Dog. Speaking of comets: Denard Robinson is a phenom and a phenomenon, the type of talent we see only every few years married to the absolute perfect system for his talents. And speaking of rushing: Robinson leads the nation with 905 yards on the ground and is third in yards per carry at 9.23.
That would be a heck of a stat line for a running back, but, remember, Robinson throws, too. And on plays that he has run (98 carries) or passed (96 attempts) this year, Michigan has gained an average of 9.82 yards per play. To put this in perspective, I went to the invaluable CFBStats.com and looked at total offense leaders since 2004, the earliest year of the site: 2006 Hawai'i, which featured Colt Brennan throwing for an NCAA-record 5,549 passing yards, gained the most yards per play in that span. And the Warriors only gained 8.6 yards per play.
Obviously, Michigan runs plays that aren't keepers or passes, and their average on those plays (5.59 yards per play) would be almost exactly in the middle of the road nationally. But there has no more potent force on a per-play basis than Denard Robinson running and throwing this season, and it's not particularly close.
Hawai'i 500. Oh, and speaking of Hawai'i? Bryant Moniz is your new FBS leader in passing yardage. He turned in the most passing yards in FBS for the second consecutive week, and, in torching Louisiana Tech for 532 yards, became the only FBS passer to top 500 yards this season.
Moniz has also run a little, and he pips Robinson in total offense, 1,953 yards to 1,913, because of it, but he's also done that with a few more plays and against a slate that might be softer than Michigan's. His success seems more like a continuation of Hawai'i's high-flying ways in the post-June Jones era, but it's worth noting that Greg McMackin was Jones' defensive coordinator, and longtime Jones assistant Ron Lee resigned as offenseive coordinator this May. That left 31-year-old Nick Rolovich as the offensive coordinator. It's safe to say he's done a fine job so far.
BCS Busters: Stylish Shutouts? Boise State and TCU each shut out their overmatched conference foes, and I mention that only in part because I kind of called that. I also want to note that the comparisons that voters will be doing to judge the Broncos and Horned Frogs this year are grotesque, heavily reliant on subjectivity, and will in many cases rely on people seeing the games' scores and nothing else. So I'll try to keep up with numbers that go a little deeper than that.
This week, Boise won 59-0 over winless New Mexico State despite passing just once in the fourth quarter. The Broncos racked up 608 yards of total offense and held the Aggies to just 208. TCU, meanwhile, beat one-win Colorado State 27-0, rolling up 474 yards to the Rams' 161. Both games were on the road. I'd say Boise's win is slightly more impressive, but I consider both vanquished teams among the worst in FBS.
Lane Kiffin Two-Point Conversion Watch! (With Bonus Allen Bradford Subplot!) Lane Kiffin did not attempt any two-point conversions in USC's game against Washington, which is kind of a bummer for the Trojans, who lost 32-31. Irony was in attendance: Washington went for two to go up by a field goal early in the fourth quarter, but failed.
Also, Allen Bradford continued a fantastic stretch of play for the Trojans. In his last three games, Bradford's run for 438 yards on 40 carries, an unbelievable 10.95 yards per carry. It's no wonder that Kiffin named Marc Tyler the starting tailback before the season and resisted installing Bradford as the starter even after his 131-yard day against Minnesota: he clearly needs to pick the absolute wrong course of action before the correct one is revealed to him.
The Still Sponsor-Free Conference USA Shootout Of The Week. Just one game featuring a C-USA team was decided by single digits, Tulane's upset of Rutgers. But SMU and Rice combined for almost 900 yards of total offense and 73 points, and even if it took two fourth-quarter scores by the Owls to cut the game to the 42-31 final in the Mustangs' favor, that's the closest thing to a shootout the conference saw this week.
The Also Sponsor-Free MAC Foot-Shooting Of The Week. Buffalo beat Bowling Green 28-26, but both teams nearly beat themselves. The Bulls committed six turnovers, and the Falcons countered with five. But only two of those turnovers happened on consecutive plays: a pick snagged by Bowling Green was followed by a Buffalo fumble recovery in the first quarter.
The Sun Belt Agonizing Moment Of The Week. North Texas rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to score two touchdowns against Louisiana-Lafayette, the second with just 31 seconds remaining. Of course, the Mean Green also needed an extra point to tie, meaning that the Ragin' Cajuns' block of that PAT sealed their 28-27 win.
Notable Numbers. These are stats too brief for elaboration, and too good for tweets.
Louisiana-Monroe had 232 passing yards; Auburn had 233 rushing yards. Louisiana-Monroe had 270 total yards; Auburn had 272 passing yards. ... On three consecutive punts against Clemson, Miami was flagged for kick catching interference. ... It's a pity Mohamed Sanu is trapped on that bad Rutgers team that lost to Tulane on Saturday: he's averaging 7.91 yards per touch. ... Against schools that do not rhyme with Smokelahoma, Florida State is outscoring opponents 92-13 in the first half and has not trailed. ... Randall Cobb scored on a two-point conversion for Kentucky, leaving a PAT and a field goal as the only two remaining ways he has not scored on offense this season. ... North Carolina State's Russell Wilson has completed 65% or more of his passes in three games this season, and under 43% in the other two. ... Iowa State, a 52-38 winner over Texas Tech, scored 24 points in the second quarter, the most points the Cyclones have ever scored in a Big 12 game and the most points an Iowa State team has scored since September 2002. ... Toledo followed a road upset of Purdue with a home loss to Wyoming. ... Division II Lincoln University went 0-for-12 on third down in a 28-14 loss to Howard — but did go 3-for-10 on fourth down. ... Fordham and Holy Cross combined for 911 yards, 54 first downs, and 23-of-35 third down conversions in a 36-31 win for the Crusaders. ... Drake held Marist to just 77 yards in a 42-0 win; the Red Foxes nearly had as many penalty yards (73) as total yards. ... Bethune-Cookman and Morgan State combined to score 51 points in the second quarter of a 69-32 Wildcats win; the Bears scored 16 points in 22 seconds at the end of the quarter on two TDs followed by two-pointers, and committed eight turnovers in the game. ... And Montana State beat Sacramento State 64-61 in a game that featured 1,270 yards of total offense, four fourth-quarter lead changes — and just one overtime.