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The Numerical, Week 6: Agony, redemption, and (failed) upset bids galore

Upset bids failed in creative fashion throughout the country (and especially in Tennessee), Missouri's James Franklin is healthy and productive, Devin Gardner avoids mistakes, and wow, does Florida State look good.

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports


Turnovers committed by Michigan's Devin Gardner. The junior quarterback has been good enough to keep Michigan undefeated, but error-prone enough to keep just about every game close, no matter how good the opponent. But on Saturday against Minnesota, Gardner completed 13 of 17 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown, and including sacks he averaged an explosive 12.6 yards per pass attempt. Michigan couldn't run -- Fitzgerald Toussaint and Derrick Green combined for 101 yards on 27 carries (3.7 per carry) -- but Gardner and a solid defense paved the way for a 42-13 win, Michigan's first since Week 1 that didn't take years off of Wolverine fans' lives.

That Michigan scored 42 points was pretty impressive, considering an insanely slow pace. The Wolverines and Gophers combined for 629 yards, 114 total plays and just 16 possessions (not including end-of-half). Contrast that with Washington State's 44-22 win over California: 1,155 yards, 179 plays, 33 possessions. And unlike Michigan, California couldn't keep the turnovers under control. Five of them turned an otherwise even game into an easy Wazzu win.

Wazzu, by the way? The Cougars are 4-2 for the first time since 2006. Granted, there's not a sure win left on the schedule; hell, aside form the Utah home game, they might be reasonably solid underdogs in the other five games. But after a rough first season for Mike Leach (which followed a disastrous tenure from Paul Wulff), there is hope in Pullman.

There is also hope in New Orleans! Tulane is also 4-2 following a 24-21 win over North Texas. Sure, the Green Wave needed two return touchdowns (blocked field goal, interception). Sure, they were outgained by 133 yards. Sure, quarterback Nick Montana was sacked five times and averaged just 3.4 yards per pass attempt. Sure, North Texas' Derek Thompson (7.5 yards per attempt) took some shine off of a pretty good-looking Tulane secondary. Wins are wins for Tulane, no questions asked. The Green Wave had won four of their previous 27 games; now they've won four of six. And needless to say, unlike Wazzu, they don't have five strong Pac-12 teams left on the schedule.


According to MGoBlog's great Mathlete, this was SMU's win probability (out of 100) at one point in the fourth quarter of the Mustangs' game versus Rutgers. And then they ripped off 21 straight points to send the game in overtime, including this two-point conversion with a minute left:

Meanwhile, Nevada's win probability was at just 2.2 percent when the Wolf Pack began their own 21-0 fourth-quarter run. A 21-point late lead is all but ironclad. At least, it is on normal Saturdays. But both SMU and Nevada sent their games to overtime...

...and lost. Just like the stats said they would!

(Seriously, there were some crazy damn games on Saturday.)


Fumbles that resulted in touchdowns in the final 125 seconds of UCF's 24-17 comeback win over Memphis. With 2:05 remaining, UCF's Storm Johnson fumbled into the Memphis end zone, where Tank Jakes recovered for a touchdown to tie the game at 17-17. On the ensuing kickoff, Marquis Warford was crushed by UCF's William Stanback (on a borderline helmet-to-helmet hit) and fumbled, and Drico Johnson returned it for a touchdown.

Memphis immediately drove the length of the field ... and threw an interception on a third-and-goal halfback pass. Memphis outgained UCF by 127 yards, but the fumble gods did not smile on them.

When you've forgotten how to win, fate is sometimes pretty cruel in reminding you of that. Memphis is getting close to becoming truly competent (especially on defense).

Southern Miss, meanwhile, is not. Somehow the Golden Eagles figured out to lose to woeful FIU, 24-23, when the Golden Panthers blocked a field goal as time expired. Seventeen-point favorites approaching the game, Southern Miss instead lost its 17th straight game.


Fourth-quarter fourth-down conversions for Tennessee in an upset bid versus Georgia. Memphis wasn't the only team following the upset script pretty well. Upset bids were rampant in the SEC. (SEC optimist: There's great depth this year! SEC skeptic: There aren't very many good teams in the league this year!) But none was more visible and exciting than Tennessee's. The Vols converted fourth downs, scored a special teams touchdown, and benefited from some key injuries, and they took the lead late on a seven-yard touchdown run by Rajion Neal. But while Georgia players were dropping like flies, Aaron Murray was still healthy and led the Dawgs on a late, game-tying touchdown. And then things got really crazy. Tennessee's Alton Howard fumbled into the end zone while stretching for the pylon, and Georgia nailed a 42-yard field goal to take the game.

Kentucky followed the script pretty well, too. The Wildcats stayed just close enough to South Carolina to scare the Gamecocks with a quick blitz early in the fourth quarter. They were outgained by 152 yards for the game and trailed, 27-7, heading into the final period, but a touchdown and a South Carolina fumble on the ensuing kickoff (a popular 1-2 punch on Saturday) led to 14 quick Kentucky points. UK couldn't stop Connor Shaw and Mike Davis from running out the clock late, but if you're Mark Stoops, you're thinking you can build on a 35-28 loss a lot more than a 27-7 thumping.

Mississippi State couldn't keep up quite as long. After 40 minutes, the Bulldogs trailed LSU by just two points thanks to an early offensive burst (first five drives: 268 yards, 23 points); last 20 minutes: LSU 31, MSU 0.

Of all the upset bids, only Auburn's was successful, and it wasn't nearly as much of an upset. And really, Auburn played like the favorite, racking up 14 tackles for loss, sacking Bo Wallace six times, and making eight trips inside Ole Miss' 40. The Tigers tried hard to give the game away, settling for four field goals and turning the ball over twice in Ole Miss territory, but they pulled it off, and my bet isn't looking very good right now.

At the very least, though, all of the above teams understood the underdog script. Charlie Weis did not. His Kansas Jayhawks scored 10 quick points on Texas Tech (first two drives: 109 yards, 7.8 per play), but facing fourth-and-1 from the Tech 46 on their third possession, they punted. Mojo: gone. And of course, mojo was further lost following a hilarious fake punt later in the quarter.

Following its first two drives, Kansas gained 162 yards and was outscored, 54-6. Insert "decided underdog tactical advantage" joke here.


Offensive snaps for Miami in the first quarter of its game versus Georgia Tech. The Hurricanes scored on a two-play touchdown drive and committed two turnovers in four other plays while falling behind, 17-7. But in the final three quarters, it was all Miami: 47 plays, 449 yards, 38 points, and a relatively easy 45-30 win.


Consecutive three-and-outs TCU suffered to start the Horned Frogs' game versus Oklahoma. TCU held OU quarterback Blake Bell to 3.8 yards per pass attempt and only fell by three points, which is encouraging; but while the defense has fit in rather well in the Big 12, the offense continues to suffer.

That Bell managed to win with minimal pass efficiency was impressive. Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase was not as lucky. He averaged 4.1 yards per pass attempt, but Illinois' defense couldn't hold up like TCU's did. Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah gained 240 yards in 21 touches to pace a 39-19 Husker win. Scheelhaase has been incredibly all-or-nothing in 2013; on Saturday, it was mostly nothing.


Losses in the last 12 games for Western Michigan. The Broncos are 0-6 this season. Ouch.


Ohio State's sack rate of Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian in the Buckeyes' 40-30 win on Saturday. Siemian completed 13 of 18 passes for 245 yards and two scores (Kain Colter was also 12-for-12 for 98 yards), and the Wildcats' passing game clicked at a pretty high level overall. But too many negative plays doomed the Wildcats in the end. Siemian threw a pick and was sacked five times; Ohio State's sack-prone quarterback Braxton Miller, meanwhile, was sacked just once in 27 attempts.

It makes a difference. Just ask Arizona State. Sun Devils quarterback Taylor Kelly completed 33 of 47 passes for 362 yards and three scores, but he was sacked six times and threw two picks, one of which was returned for a score. That makes a pretty large impact when you lose by three points.


Total points scored in five games by Miami (Ohio) this season. The other Miami is averaging 45 per game. When you make every defense look like 2011 Alabama, you probably aren't going to make it through the season, Don Treadwell. Treadwell seemed like a pretty solid, understandable hire for the Cradle of Coaches, but it just never worked out. The RedHawks went 8-29 under Treadwell and became the third team to fire their coach this season.

USF, meanwhile, was also making every defense it faced look elite ... until it played Cincinnati, anyway. Granted, the Bulls needed help from two return touchdowns (blocked field goal, fumble), and granted, they still gained only 241 yards with 12 first downs. But thanks to four Cincy turnovers, all inside the Bearcats' 35, the Bulls pulled off a 26-20 upset, their first win of the season. Thus far, Cincy head coach Tommy Tuberville has managed to get rocked by Illinois and lose to a pretty awful USF squad. And because he's Tommy Tuberville, that all but clinches the Bearcats beating Louisville at home to end the season.


Pete Lembo's win percentage versus BCS conference teams at Ball State.


Yards gained by Florida State in its first four possessions against Maryland. The Seminoles drove the length of the field on their first possession, but three straight punts kept the game at 7-0 for a while. And then they gained 511 yards (10.2 per play) and scored eight touchdowns on their next eight possessions.

I understand Florida State's reputation, and I understand that, in theory, there will be a point where quarterback Jameis Winston (23-for-32, 393 yards, five touchdowns, 33 rushing yards, and some general hilarity) actually looks like a redshirt freshman. But it's impossible to watch Florida State and think anything other than "Wow, that's an elite team right there." The Seminoles are ranked too low at sixth, but obviously a win at Clemson will put them where they need to be.


Rushing yards gained by BC's Andre Williams in a 48-27 win over Army. Yes, Army's defense is, to put it kindly, lacking. But along with quarterback Chase Rettig's 11-for-13, 203-yard performance, it was further affirmation that BC's offense is actually pretty strong this year. (We just won't talk about the Eagles' defense just yet. We'll stop on a happy note.)


Total yardage for Missouri quarterback James Franklin through five games. This is most notable because he had just 1,684 yards for all of last season. Perhaps not surprisingly, Missouri already has as many wins as it did a year ago.

It's amazing what a healthy head, shoulder, and knees can do for a quarterback. With a three-headed monster beside him in the backfield, a new offensive coordinator calling plays, and a wealth of big receivers helping him out, Franklin has completed 68 percent of his passes for 1,407 yards, 13 touchdowns, and three picks. In a 51-28 statement win versus Vandy, he was 19-for-28 for 278 yards and four scores. He's also rushed for 278 yards and is one of four Tigers to have rushed for at least that much.

Saturday's trip to Georgia will tell us whether Missouri is on its way to a good season or a great one, but through five games, the 5-0 Tigers have more than bounced back from last year's injury-plagued disappointment.

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