The Numerical, Week 4: Collapses, Field Position And Games Of Keep-Away

Looking at the numbers from a week of offensive collapses (Texas A&M, Central Florida), ridiculous rushing success (Trent Richardson, LaMichael James, Jonas Gray and the entire Florida roster) and some ball hogs (Illinois, Georgia, Oklahoma State).

Let's take a look at the numbers that mattered in Week Four of the college football season.

1: Tackles for loss managed by the Nebraska defense against Wyoming. The Huskers won, 38-14, powered by Rex Burkhead (170 yards in 15 carries) and an offense that gained 490 yards, but in three games versus FBS competition (Fresno State, Washington and Wyoming), they have managed just four tackles for loss. And now they have to go to Madison and try not to get pushed around by the Wisconsin front five in their Big Ten debut.

Yards gained by Miami's final four plays in the Hurricanes' 28-24 loss to Kansas State. K-State generated an early lead, but Miami had a chance to win, facing a first-and-goal situation from the KSU 2 with under two minutes remaining. Jacory Harris threw an incompletion on first down, Mike James gained one yard on two carries, and a desperate Harris scramble was stopped short with fewer than 50 seconds left. KSU heads into conference play looking truly competent on defense for the first time in years.

Charity points given to Syracuse in an overtime win over Toledo.

2: Net gain, in yards, of Vanderbilt quarterback Larry Smth's 22 pass attempts (including sacks) against South Carolina. S.C. quarterback Stephen Garcia threw four interceptions, and VU's defense showed they could potentially be up to the SEC challenge; however, the Commodores' offense simply has no weapons. Smith completed 12 of 16 passes, but they gained just 44 yards, and six sacks gave 42 of those yards away in the Gamecocks' 21-3 win.

Fumbles Boston College returned for touchdowns in back-to-back second-half possessions against Massachusetts. B.C. only outgained UMass by 76 yards (389 to 313), but the Eagles won, 45-17, because of turnovers.

3: Pick sixes thrown by UNLV in their humiliating 41-16 loss to Southern Utah Saturday night. The Rebels took a step forward with their upset win over Hawaii, then they took nine steps back against SUU, handing the Thunderbirds (!) 21 points on interception returns alone.

Passes caught by Florida International star T.Y. Hilton in FIU's upset loss to UL-Lafayette. Hilton was nagged by a hamstring injury for much of the game, and quarterback Wesley Carroll was knocked out of the game with an ankle injury, but the Golden Panthers were actually done in by their defense: ULL's Ragin' Cajuns gained 419 yards (6.7 per play) and won, 36-31.

3.7: Average gain of Mississippi State's 38 second-half plays in their 26-20 overtime win over Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs completely shut down, scoring just three points after halftime (on a 14-yard drive, no less) and getting pushed by the Bulldogs, but three Tech turnovers (including an interception in overtime) allowed MSU to fend off disaster.

4: Incomplete passes thrown by Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III in 33 attempts against Rice. As you've probably heard by now, Griffin has thrown 13 touchdown passes and only 12 incompletions thus far in 2011. By the way, a note to sports announcers around the country: you are no longer allowed to begin a Robert Griffin tidbit with "If you haven't heard of Baylor's Robert Griffin, then..." I heard three different people say it on Saturday. If you haven't heard of Robert Griffin by now, you aren't a college football fan, and we're not going to share him with you.

Clemson receivers who caught a pass of at least 30 yards in the Tigers' 35-30 win over Florida State. Sammy Watkins (11 targets, eight catches, 141 yards, two touchdowns) was the star, but DeAndre Hopkins, Dwayne Allen and Martavis Bryant also came up big when asked as CU outgained FSU by a 455 to 365 margin.

Drives of 10-plus plays executed by Illinois in the second half of their 23-20 comeback win over Western Michigan. Illinois trailed 13-10 at halftime, but they played a perfect game of "keep-away," allowing WMU to run just 22 plays in the second half. Running backs Troy Pollard and Donovonn Young set the pace, gaining 233 yards in 26 carries. Georgia also attempted the "keep-away" gambit, pulling off three similar second-half drives. The difference for the Bulldogs: all three drives resulted in missed field goals. Luckily, they were playing Ole Miss, and Ole Miss has no offense: the Rebels gained just 183 yards (3.3 per play), and Georgia won easily, 27-13.

5: Touchdowns Texas Tech scored in five trips inside the Nevada 10. They beat the Wolf Pack, 35-34, thanks to the fact that Nevada had to twice settle for field goals in six similar trips. Quite a few games last weekend were decided by red zone(ish) success -- California scored just 23 points in six trips inside the Washington 30, while Washington generated 31 points in five. Meanwhile, seven San Diego State trips inside the Michigan 40 resulted in just seven points.

7: Pre-sack rushing yards gained by N.C. State in a 44-14 loss at Cincinnati. Primary running backs Curtis Underwood, Jr., and James Washington managed five yards in 10 carries. The natural sentiment is that keeping Russell Wilson would've helped N.C. State considerably, but in facing constant passing downs situations thanks to the lack of a running game, Wilson (who was sacked 39 times and threw 14 interceptions last year) would only have done so much.

8: Yardage advantage Auburn held over Florida Atlantic in AU's lethargic 30-14 win over Howard Schnellenberger's lowly Owls. FAU made eight tackles for loss, but three FAU turnovers gave Auburn the advantage in a game that was just 10-6 at halftime.

12.9: Average gain, in yards, of Matt McGloin's 17 pass attempts in Penn State's 34-6 win over Eastern Michigan. He completed 14 of 17 passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns; Rob Bolden, meanwhile, averaged 8.8 yards over 13 attempts. The two continue to dance back and forth; McGloin looks better than Bolden in one game, Bolden looks less terrible than McGloin in the next.

16.2: Value, in Equivalent Points (as defined here), of Texas A&M's four second-half turnovers in Oklahoma State's 30-29 comeback win in College Station. After gaining 301 yards and scoring 20 points in the first half, the Aggies gained just 170 in the second, primarily because they kept handing the ball to OSU. The Cowboys ran 56 plays in the second half, gaining 353 yards and scoring 27 points. The Aggies were not alone in their collapses; Central Florida committed three turnovers, worth 13.8 points, in the fourth quarter alone against BYU. Not surprisingly, they, too, lost.

18.9: Average gain, in yards, of the eight passes directed at Georgia Tech receiver Stephen Hill against North Carolina. If he had caught a wide-open bomb in the fourth quarter, the average would have been 25.6. But since the Yellow Jackets won (35-28), and since Hill made a spectacular, one-handed catch earlier in the game, he's forgiven.

20: Chas Dodd passes targeting Rutgers receiver Mohamed Sanu in the Scarlet Knights' 38-26 win over Ohio. Sanu caught 16 of them for 176 yards. Passes not directed at Sanu: 6-for-15 for 75 yards.

25.4: Value, in Equivalent Points, of the four turnovers USC committed against Arizona State. Matt Barkley threw two picks, the Trojans lost two fumbles, and it completely defined ASU's 43-22 win. USC outgained the Sun Devils, 402-392, but their mistakes were infinitely more costly than ASU's. ASU now holds a service break of sorts over Utah in the race for the inaugural Pac-12 South title -- Utah lost by three points at USC. The Utes, however, don't play either Oregon or Stanford, while ASU makes a jaunt up to Eugene soon. Utah will have a couple of opportunities to break back.

26: Yardage advantage Buffalo generated over Connecticut in UConn's 17-3 win. The Huskies gained just 293 yards (4.6 per play), but a couple of big plays on both offense (Nick Williams had two catches for 113 yards and a touchdown) and defense (they sacked Buffalo quarterback Chazz Anderson three times and picked him off once) got the job done.

29.4: Average advantage, in yards, of LSU's starting field position as compared to West Virginia's in the Bayou Bengals' 47-21 win in Morgantown. West Virginia gained 533 yards, but they started every single possession inside their 30. LSU punter Brad Wing was potentially the game's MVP, dropping all six of his punts inside WVU's 12. Throw in four Mountaineer turnovers (worth 18.9 Equivalent Points) and an LSU special teams touchdown, and WVU really never had a chance.

50: Length, in yards, of Ohio State's longest scoring drive in their 37-17 win over Colorado. Braxton Miller completed just five of 13 passes and averaged just 3.9 per pass attempt (including sacks), but the Buckeyes destroyed the Buffs with field position advantage; their scoring drives traveled five (touchdown), 10 (field goal), 11 (field goal), 43 (touchdown), 46 (touchdown, 50 (field goal) and 50 (yards). Colorado hasn't won a road game since approximately 1990, and spotting opponents half the field and 12.1 turnover points really isn't the best way to end that streak.

60: Percentage of games North Dakota State has won versus teams not named Minnesota since the start of the 2007 season. They've won 100 percent of their games versus the Gophers in that span, winning 27-21 in 2007 and cruising to a 37-24 victory on Saturday. (By the way, here's another "Get well soon" message to Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, who is once again hospitalized with issues related to seizures.)

79: Length, in yards, of Jonas Gray's jarring, Herschel-esque touchdown run early Saturday afternoon. Notre Dame barely got past Pittsburgh, 15-12, thanks to yet another red zone turnover (Turnover Points: Notre Dame 9.6, Pittsburgh 0) and general iffiness in the passing game (Tommy Rees averaged just 4.8 yards per pass attempt, including sacks), but Gray's run gave the Irish just enough of a jolt to get past the mistakes and move to 2-2.

93: Receiving yards pulled in by Oklahoma's Jaz Reynolds in the Sooners' 38-28 win over Missouri Saturday night. With Kenny Stills injured and Trey Franks suspended, OU needed another receiver to step up, and when Reynolds was catching passes, the Sooners had one too many weapons for the Tigers to cover. OU averaged 4.2 points per possession in drives that included a Reynolds reception; they averaged just 2.1 in their other drives.

185: Yards separating Temple and Maryland in the Owls' 38-7 win. There was nothing misleading about the Owls' margin of victory; they didn't create seven turnovers or return six kicks for touchdowns. They just lined up and dominated the Terps from start to finish, outgaining them 425-240. Running back Bernard Pierce gained 149 yards and scored five touchdowns in 32 carries, and quarterback Chester Stewart completed all nine passes he attempted. The Owls' first five drives gained 299 yards, 59 yards more than Maryland generated all game. The Owls almost have to be considered a strong candidate for Big East inclusion at this point, though since they were kicked out of the same conference a while back, I would really enjoy it if they told commissioner John Marinatto and company to stick it. (They won't, of course.)

211: Yards generated by Trent Richardson's 20 touches for Alabama against Arkansas on Saturday. In 59 plays, meanwhile, Arkansas generated just 226 yards. Guess who won?

303: Yards generated by LaMichael James' 25 touches for Oregon against Arizona. James and Barner combined for 360 yards as the Ducks cruised to a 56-31 win.

346: Yards generated in 31 carries by Florida's Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey and Mike Gillislee in the Gators' 48-10 romp over suddenly lowly Kentucky. At some point, a go-to receiver will need to emerge -- the Gators have seen nothing of the sort thus far, as Rainey and Demps are actually the only two players with more than seven catches in the first four games -- but if your backs are averaging 11.2 yards per carry, you don't ever need to pass.

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