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Exploring the worst offensive performance in college football history

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How to lose an entire football field's worth of yardage in 60 minutes.

Tusculum College is the oldest college in the state of Tennessee and the 23rd oldest in the nation. Its graduates have gone on to achieve success in various fields, from a member of a Super Bowl winner to a Kentucky governor to the head baseball coach at Florida Gulf Coast. Unless you or someone you know went there, you'd still probably never heard of Tusculum or its football team, the Pioneers.

But Division II Tusculum did this to opponent College of Faith, an online institution in Charlotte, during Thursday night's 71-0 win:

tusculum rushing

And this:

tusculum total yards

(Awkward bro nod to Mark Schlabach.)

Both of those destroyed the previous NCAA all-division records (even Cumberland gained negative-96 in its 222-0 loss to Georgia Tech in 1916), and they are nearly impossible to comprehend. How does one lose an entire football field on offense? How do you lose an entire football field including the end zones and a little bit extra just so we can put up the goalposts in your running game?

Let's try to reconstruct this crime scene, drive by drive.

COLLEGE OF FAITH DRIVE 1

Technically, Tusculum gets the ball first, but the Pioneers run the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, so College of Faith has the first offensive series. The Saints gain 8 yards on three rushing attempts (not great, but not record-setting bad), then prepare to punt.

The punt turns into a safety and a loss of 18 yards.

Total yards: -10
Rushing yards: -10

COLLEGE OF FAITH DRIVE 2

The Saints go three-and-out again after only picking up 3 yards, two of which come on the ground. The good news is they do not give up another safety on fourth down. The bad news is College of Faith ends up falling on another fumble at its own 2-yard line, a loss of 26 yards.

Total yards: -33
Rushing yards: -34

COLLEGE OF FAITH DRIVE 3

Tusculum scores quickly on the short field, and College of Faith decides it's time to start passing. And it kind of works! The Saints pick up a first down with a 12-yard pass ... and then call three runs that only get 7 yards. But the punt that ends the drive is successful, so that's a major improvement.

Total yards: -14
Rushing yards: -27

COLLEGE OF FAITH DRIVE 4

One run for a loss of a yard, two passes for a total gain of 7 and another punt.

Total yards: -8
Rushing yards: -28

COLLEGE OF FAITH DRIVE 5

The Saints call three straight running plays, each of which gains but 1 yard. The first quarter clock expires, and College of Faith starts the second quarter with an homage to the first -- a fumbled punt that loses 28 yards.

Total yards: -33
Rushing yards: -53

COLLEGE OF FAITH DRIVE 6

This one's positively vanilla, comparatively. First down is a run for 1 yard, second is an incomplete pass, third is a 3-yard completion well short of the line to gain. The punt is successfully snapped and kicked. GO SAINTS!

Total yards: -29
Rushing yards: -52

COLLEGE OF FAITH DRIVE 7

WARNING: This drive is not for children, pregnant women or people with heart conditions.

Hey, we finally joined Facebook!

C 1-10 C25 Tory Burrell rush for 3 yards to the COF28 (Wayne Soliai;Matt Simon).
C 2-7 C28 C. Thompson rush for loss of 2 yards to the COF26 (Matt Simon).
C 3-9 C26 T. Singleton sacked for loss of 7 yards to the COF19 (Marlon Joyner).
C 4-16 C19 TEAM rush for loss of 19 yards to the COF0, TEAM safety, clock 08:41,
PENALTY COF illegal kicking declined.

DAAAAAAAAAAAAAMN.

Total yards: -54
Rushing yards: -77

COLLEGE OF FAITH DRIVE 8

Say what you will about the other CoF drives. This one is at least blessedly short, as the Saints fumble the ball away on first down after a 2-yard run.

Total yards: -52
Rushing yards: -75

COLLEGE OF FAITH DRIVE 9

Run for a loss of 5, run for a loss of 1, run for a gain of 3, punt. This is starting to feel violative of the Eighth Amendment.

Total yards: -55
Rushing yards: -78

COLLEGE OF FAITH DRIVE 10

The last Saints drive before halftime is not exactly a momentum-shifter, with three runs and a net gain of 3 yards. Actually, that might be a momentum-shifter in this game. I feel gross.

Total yards: -52
Rushing yards: -75

COLLEGE OF FAITH DRIVE 11

College of Faith gets the ball first to start the second half. The Saints know it's now or never, so when they're faced with fourth-and-4, they go for it! And get sacked.

Total yards: -53
Rushing yards: -83

COLLEGE OF FAITH DRIVE 12

A face mask penalty on Tusculum is the biggest gain of the game so far for College of Faith, and certainly the biggest of this drive, which has two rushes for a net 2 yards and two incomplete passes. Oh, and a punt that turns out to be -- you guessed it -- a safety and negative-35 more rushing yards.

Total yards: -86
Rushing yards: -116

COLLEGE OF FAITH DRIVE 13

Now here's a neat wrinkle. What if the Saints start PASSING for negative yardage! That'll keep the running total from getting worse!

Total yards: -95 
Rushing yards: -119

COLLEGE OF FAITH DRIVE 14

The last time College of Faith has the ball all game. (I'm sorry I put you through this.) Rush for minus-1, rush for no gain, rush for minus-4, punt. Drive home safely.

Total yards: -100
Rushing yards: -124