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Georgia's Todd Gurley impersonator and this week's choice college football stats

This week in numbers! Two upsets have opened up the ACC Coastal and Pac-12 South races, Tennessee and Memphis are right next to each other, and if you thought there was a preponderance of bouncing balls in Week 12, it wasn't your imagination.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports


According to F/+ win probabilities, there was only about a 2.2 percent chance that both Arizona State and Duke would lose on Saturday. The Sun Devils had a 92.1 percent chance of taking down Oregon State in Corvallis (which seemed high until you noticed how well ASU had been playing and how poorly OSU had been playing), and the Blue Devils had a comparatively conservative 71.9 percent chance of getting past Virginia Tech at home.

Insert "That's why they play the games, nerd," here. With wins, the Devils of both Sun and Blue could have all but clinched respective division titles. Instead, they both lost -- Duke by one (17-16) and Arizona State by eight (35-27) -- throwing the ACC Coastal and Pac-12 South divisions into relative chaos.

Duke now finds itself at 4-2, needing to win both of its last two games to tie Georgia Tech at 6-2 and win the division. The Blue Devils play host to both UNC and Wake Forest, so they've got a pretty good chance of doing just that. ASU's odds are quite a bit longer. At 5-2, they are now tied in the loss column with three other teams (USC, UCLA, Arizona), and their home blowout loss to UCLA earlier in the year could end up counting double, depending on who ties whom in the standings.

But on the bright side, Wednesday's conference projections posts at Football Study Hall just got a lot more interesting.


Two weeks and eight games into this season's midweek MACtion slate, the results have been ... less than optimal. Only one game has been decided by a single possession (NIU 27, Toledo 24), and only one game has produced more than 60 points (Buffalo 55, Akron 24). Considering #MACtion came into existence because of tight, high-scoring affairs, this is disappointing.

Plus, the games themselves have been of minimal consequence. There are currently five MAC teams above .500 in conference play; only one MACtion game thus far has pitted two of them together.

This week's slate does feature an important Bowling Green-Toledo game Wednesday night on ESPN2. BGSU has already clinched the MAC East, but 5-1 Toledo is trying to keep up in a crowded West field that features two other 5-1 teams (NIU and WMU) and another at 5-2 (CMU). And both the Falcons and Rockets average more than 32 points per game each. So there's potential there. We hope.


Georgia running back Todd Gurley's 2014 season (and, most likely, UGA career) ended with an ACL injury on Saturday. The junior was the Heisman frontrunner until he was given a four-game suspension for receiving money for autographs, and he tore up his knee in his first game back.

Gurley's story is a tragic one (by sports standards), depriving us of one of the most fun-to-watch players in college football. It hasn't cost Georgia that much on the field, however, because freshman Nick Chubb has spent the last month doing one hell of a Gurley impression.


Over six games, Gurley rushed for 911 yards and nine touchdowns at 7.4 yards per carry. Over the last five games, Chubb has rushed for 815 yards and seven touchdowns, and after averaging just 3.8 yards per carry in his first start against Missouri, he has since averaged 8.1. In three November games, he's averaged 8.9. And over the last five games, Georgia has played like a top-10 team in four of them, sans the increasingly baffling 38-20 blowout loss to Florida (a result Gurley's presence probably wouldn't have swayed, unless he decided to play outside linebacker).

Georgia needs Missouri to lose to either Tennessee or Arkansas to win the SEC East and reach the conference championship game. If the Dawgs get there, in part because of Chubb and a run game that has continued to dominate without Gurley, they could be a dangerous wildcard for the SEC West champion.


Did Week 12 seem particularly wacky to you, with an abnormal number of swings and bouncing balls? It seemed that way to me, too. And I think I have proof. There were more turnovers in Week 12 than in any week to date.

0 TOs 1-2 TOs 3-4 TOs 5-6 TOs 7+ TOs Turnovers Per Game
Week 1 12% 35% 35% 14% 5% 2.95
Week 2 5% 34% 31% 22% 8% 3.42
Week 3 2% 38% 38% 19% 3% 3.12
Week 4 4% 33% 35% 19% 9% 3.42
Week 5 4% 30% 39% 20% 7% 3.57
Week 6 5% 28% 37% 25% 5% 3.39
Week 7 4% 29% 40% 22% 5% 3.47
Week 8 2% 39% 41% 17% 2% 3.04
Week 9 6% 30% 45% 13% 6% 3.17
Week 10 2% 32% 43% 16% 7% 3.43
Week 11 8% 34% 36% 20% 2% 3.06
Week 12 2% 31% 40% 17% 10% 3.65

Lost amid Melvin Gordon's rushing explosion was the fact that Nebraska-Wisconsin also featured NINE turnovers. Penn State's win over Temple and Northwestern's unlikely upset of Notre Dame featured eight each. Memphis beat Tulane and Bowling Green beat Kent State in games that featured seven each. Arizona-Washington, FSU-Miami, ECU-Cincinnati, Ball State-UMass, and FIU-MTSU each had six.

A full 10 percent of Week 12 games featured at least seven turnovers; only Week 4 had topped eight percent. And while the F/+ win probabilities still fared OK -- teams with a 90+ percent chance of winning only went 7-3, but the model fell in line otherwise -- there were silly games and unexpected results.

Thursday night's ECU-Cincinnati game may have only had six turnovers, which paled in comparison to other games. But it was probably the best game of the week from a pure action-and-swings standpoint. The teams combined to gain 1,165 yards and score 100 points, and East Carolina overcame two separate double-digit leads -- 17-6 early in the second quarter, 38-20 early in the third -- to take a 46-45 lead with just 1:02 left. But after committing a crippling turnover on downs that set up the go-ahead touchdown, Cincinnati's Gunner Kiel completed three passes for 35 yards to set up a 47-yard field goal from Andrew Gantz with 15 seconds left.

ECU attempted a desperate lateral fest as time expired, and Cincy's Terrell Hartsfield ended up collecting the ball and scoring to make the final 54-46. If you're going to have a lot of turnovers and sloppiness, at least have some fun with it.


Since 2009, Kansas has played 10 teams ranked 12th or higher in the AP poll. Average score: Opponent 52.2, Jayhawks 15.4, an average losing margin of 36.8 points.

On Saturday in Lawrence, in front of approximately 52.2 people (okay, 30,889), Kansas took a 27-17 lead on No. 4 TCU late into the third quarter.

Interim Kansas coach Clint Bowen probably doesn't have much use for moral victories; he needs real ones to convince KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger he should have the head coaching job permanently*. And when KU receiver Nigel King snagged a tipped pass and took it 78 yards for a touchdown midway through the third quarter, it looked like he might get just that. KU had a 27-17 lead and was getting every bounce.

Via Fox Sports 1

TCU then proceeded to go on a 17-0 run over about six minutes. Cameron Echols-Luper's 69-yard punt return gave TCU the lead, but the Frogs couldn't put the game away. They had to settle for a field goal to go up 34-27 early in the fourth, and KU recovered at fumble at the TCU 10 to set up a field goal with 7:42 remaining. KU got one last shot at the lead with four minutes left, but Chris Hackett intercepted Michael Cummings.

TCU survived, 34-30, but we'll see on Tuesday night how much a near-loss to the 3-7 Jayhawks hurts them in the Playoff rankings.

* Bowen, by the way, really might be a pretty good candidate. He might not have the highest ceiling, but he's proved himself enough to suggest he could get KU back to the 6-6 range, fix the program's crumbling infrastructure, and at the very least make it so that the guy hired AFTER Bowen would only have to be a good hire to succeed, not a perfect hire. As a Missouri fan, I draw reference to Larry Smith. Smith was hired by Mizzou in 1994, demanded facilities and general program upgrades, brought Mizzou to a couple of bowls, and raised expectations to a level he couldn't meet. Without his work, Gary Pinkel might not have been in position to succeed. Bowen wouldn't be a sexy hire, but he might be a good infrastructure builder.


At the top, the current F/+ rankings look about right. Alabama, Oregon, and Ohio State are the top three teams, and the other primary contenders (Florida State, Mississippi State, TCU, Baylor) are in the top 10.

The interesting tidbits reside below. My current favorite:

38. Tennessee
39. Memphis

Butch Jones' rebuilding job in Knoxville is coming along on schedule. After a challenging first year, Jones is recruiting well and has his young Volunteers at 5-5 and needing a win over either Missouri (at home) or Vanderbilt (in Nashville) to clinch their first bowl bid since 2010.

That's a pretty good story, but an even better story is unfolding about 400 miles west. In just his third year in charge of the Memphis program, head coach Justin Fuente has crafted a top-40 team out of what was cinder and ashes two years ago. One of the subjects of my August "Blueprint for a rebuild" piece, Fuente has won seven games this fall, as many as he had won in 2012-13 combined, and more than Memphis had won in the three years prior (5-31 from 2009-11). His Tigers are mediocre on offense but have a top-50 defense and the best special teams unit in the country. They tilt the field and force turnovers, and they're a half-game up in the AAC race at the moment, with two likely wins (USF and UConn at home) remaining on the schedule. What a job Fuente has done.

Charting Wisconsin's record day


Against South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, the Missouri offense gained a combined 546 yards, 3.4 per play, and scored 35 points. Opponents began figuring out the book on quarterback Maty Mauk, and with two-thirds of his starting receiving corps banged up and a line that oscillated between decent and bad, he wasn't getting the help he needed. Missouri's offense began performing at its worst level since about 1999.

The Tigers went 2-1 in this span, thanks to some awesome defense (15th in Def. F/+) and special teams (22nd in ST F/+). The team scored five offensive touchdowns and four return touchdowns in this span.

On Saturday in College Station, Missouri gained 587 yards, 6.6 per play, in a 34-27 win over Texas A&M. It's amazing how much of a panacea a bad, banged-up A&M defense can be. A pretty shaky Aggie front seven was badly depleted by the end of Saturday's game, and Missouri's Russell Hansbrough took advantage, rushing 20 times for 199 yards and two long touchdowns. Hansbrough had rushed for just 214 yards, 3.3 per carry, in his last five games. Panacea!

Missouri's not the only team with a) a good offensive reputation and b) a pretty bad offense. With freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson suffering multiple injuries, Clemson's own offense ranks just 54th in Off. F/+. Watson returned from one injury only to fall to another one (thankfully not as serious as originally thought!) early in the Tigers' 28-6 loss to Georgia Tech.

To say that Watson's replacement, senior Cole Stoudt (the starter at the beginning of the season), struggled against the Ramblin' Wreck is an understatement. Stoudt completed six of his 11 passes for two touchdowns; in theory, that's not bad, until you note that three of the completions and both touchdowns were to players in Georgia Tech uniforms. Jamal Golden returned a screen pass 85 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, and Chris Milton iced the game with a 62-yard pick six late in the third.