All of America should eagerly anticipate the beginning of college football seasons, because, to paraphrase college football poet laureate Spencer Hall, the eternal September of being a college football diehard is never better than in the real, the-calendar-on-the-wall-has-a-tree-with-orange-maple-leaves September. I'm certainly in that number.
But I'm in a much smaller number, too: the ranks of the box score voles. I gorge on college football on Saturdays and then gorge again on the intriguing minutiae of the games on Saturday nights. (Why, no, I'm not seeing anyone...) I'm proud to be one of them, though, because I love the endlessly fascinating statistics college football brings on a weekly basis.
And I love the beginning of the season in particular, because lopsided games often make for jaw-dropping stats.
For example: you likely know that Oregon gutted New Mexico on Saturday. You may not know that in their 16 possessions, the Ducks never punted and had 15 drives covering 20 or more yards.
These are stats, trivial tidbits that do very little to explain anything. Especially at the beginning of the season, they come from a very small sample size and extrapolating anything from them is dangerous. But they are fun to play with. It's a kick to know that Houston scored four touchdowns in 2:19 of game clock, or that The Citadel matched that in nearly half the time (1:18).
There's a certain amount of schadenfreude that comes withseeing some of the more futile outings. Cal-Davis had 81 yards and four first downs against Cal. Murray State posted -65 rushing yards. Albany beat Maine, 3-0, in a game that featured three trips into the red zone, all Albany's. Kansas lost to North Dakota State even though it held the Bison to 168 yards of total offense, benefited from 13 Bison penalties for 105 yards, and forced four turnovers.
There's just as much unexpected joy in the weirdness of other things, though. Utah State and Oklahoma both had their starting quarterbacks complete 17 of 36 passes. Wofford gained 220 yards against Ohio, and none of them came through the air. Air Force's option attack got 18 different players at least one carry, and 17 of those players gained yardage. Morgan State scored 14 points via four field goals and a go-ahead safety.
And, occasionally, I find a fantastic name, like that of Idaho's Trey Farquhar. (I think it's probably Trey because he's Willard Farquhar III.)
I'll go through these boxes and tweet and write about what I find while burrowing into them this season. I hope you can indulge my vole-like tendencies.