In two games this season, Florida Atlantic has gained 345 yards and allowed 1,404. 1,404 yards. In two games. The resulting yardage margin of minus-1,059 yards would be pretty bad after 12 games.
Yes, the Owls were playing Nebraska and Alabama and not FIU and Wagner, but still. The biggest surprise is that they've only been outscored, 96-7. That's some remarkable restraint from the Huskers and Crimson Tide.
In the 14 games (and counting) since Darrell Hazell took over for Danny Hope at Purdue, the Boilermakers have won twice, over Indiana State by six points in 2013 and over WMU by nine points in the opening week of 2014. In two games against lower-level MAC teams this year (WMU, CMU), they have been outscored, 72-60, and been outgained, 789-733.
Meanwhile, FCS Eastern Washington has played a Pac-12 team in September of each of the last four seasons. The Eagles are just 1-3 after Saturday's loss to Washington, but they have averaged 543 yards and 37 points per game in the four contests, and they have yet to lose by more than a touchdown. They lost, 59-52, on Saturday in Seattle, they beat Oregon State, 49-46, in 2013, and they lost to Washington State (2012) and Washington (2011) by a combined 54-47.
EWU is currently 84th in the Sagarin rankings, ahead of Virginia, Boston College, and Washington State. (North Dakota State is 30th, but that goes without saying at this point.) Purdue is 167th, just behind Dartmouth, Albany, and Southern Utah.
If there is a better case for promotion and relegation than this, I would like to hear it. At best, Purdue belongs in the MAC right now, and at worst, EWU belongs in the Mountain West.
College Football Must Reads
When June Jones took over for Phil Bennett in 2008, SMU had won three bowl games since 1949. The Mustangs won three in four years between 2009-12.
They lost nine of Jones' final 14 games before his surprising (if only because of the timing) Monday resignation, and they lost their two 2014 games by a combined 88-6. But Jones' accomplishments in Dallas got SMU a slight promotion in conference affiliation, and his tenure helped assure SMU of a new stadium.
When Jones took over, SMU had been off of the death penalty for 20 years, but the Mustangs didn't truly exist again in the college football universe until Jones brought them back to life.
LSU sophomore Travin Dural has scored four touchdowns in six catches this season. In a 56-0 win over Sam Houston State on Saturday, he caught three passes and scored on all three, from distances of 18, 28, and 94 yards. He's averaging a tidy 48.5 yards per catch this year.
Dural's performance was almost (but not quite) enough to overshadow what Baylor freshman K.D. Cannon pulled off against Northwestern State: six catches, 223 yards, three touchdowns. Backup Bear quarterback Seth Russell (starting in place of injured Bryce Petty), by the way? 16-for-25 for 438 yards, five touchdowns, no picks, and no sacks. That's a nice, cool 17.5 yards per attempt and 27.4 yards per completion.
The good offenses have been spectacular so far in 2014, and that's good. Because the bad offenses have been horrific.
With 34 seconds left in a shocking, tie ballgame with McNeese State, Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong threw a short pass to running back Ameer Abdullah to convert a third-and-6 and work the Huskers into position for a last-second field goal.
Abdullah had other ideas. Despite five Cowboy defenders getting a hand on him (maybe six; hard to tell for sure), and despite being almost completely hemmed in at midfield, Abdullah went all the way home.
We could point and laugh at how this was the Big Ten's best moment of the weekend -- a miracle touchdown in the final seconds to beat an FCS team -- but instead, we'll just point and marvel. Ameer Abdullah is a badass.
Tulsa scored seven points against Oklahoma on Saturday. I'm not sure how.
Of course, the Golden Hurricane scoring a touchdown wasn't as out-of-place as South Carolina State managing seven points (thanks to a late fumble return touchdown) despite gaining 44 total yards in 53 plays in a 66-point loss to Clemson.
Maryland fumbled seven times against USF on Saturday. Senior quarterback C.J. Brown had one of the sloppiest games imaginable, fumbling three times (he lost one), taking three sacks, and throwing two interceptions. But thanks to a fourth quarter blocked-punt touchdown and the fact that USF apparently still isn't very good, Maryland somehow won, 24-17.
Michigan outgained Notre Dame by nine yards in South Bend on Saturday night, 289-280. The Wolverines also lost by 31 points and were shut out for the first time in 30 years. That's what happens when ...
- your average starting field position is 15 yards worse than your opponent's. (Notre Dame 37, Michigan 22.)
- you go 0-for-4 in scoring opportunities (i.e. trips inside the opponent's 40), missing two field goals, losing a fumble, and turning the ball over on downs.
- your opponent goes five-for-five in scoring opportunities, with four touchdowns and a field goal.
- you throw interceptions from your 20, 39, and 46.
Michigan didn't generate many scoring chances and completely sabotaged the chances it had. The result, then, was rather predictable.
This game was a total rushing abomination, by the way. Michigan backs De'Veon Smith and Derrick Green combined for 55 yards in 20 carries, while Notre Dame's Cam McDaniel, Greg Bryant, and Tarean Folston combiend for 61 on 25. But Notre Dame had Everett Golson completing 68 percent of his passes with no turnovers, and Michigan had Devin Gardner throwing three picks, fumbling twice, and taking two sacks.
Oh, Devin. You have gotten almost no help whatsoever from your line or backfield mates in the last 12 months, but you are still your own worst enemy at times.
Since the start of the 2013 season, Hawaii has gone 1-13. That's an terrible record no matter how you slice it, but Hawaii has pulled off the feat of being competitive in most of these losses. In fact, seven of these 13 losses have been by a touchdown or less, including both 2014 losses thus far. A week after losing by one point to Washington, the Rainbow Warriors made a late, mad charge (a Hawaii specialty at this point) to turn a 38-7 deficit into a narrow, 38-30 loss.
Naturally, the locals appear to be losing faith in head coach Norm Chow, and when your tenure begins with 22 losses in 26 games, that's understandable. But as with last season, Hawaii is close to a change in fortune.
Of course, football is a pretty unfair game sometimes. You can be this close to turning things around right up until you don't have a job anymore.
Hawaii, by the way, didn't have the week's only late surge. Another one took place in Lawrence, Kansas, where KU took a 34-7 lead over SE Missouri State into the fourth quarter, then watched (almost literally as bystanders) as the Redhawks gained 205 fourth-quarter yards, scored 21 points, and got to within 34-28 until an onside kick fell into the wrong hands. Kansas' Tony Pierson had 139 yards in seven combined carries and catches, and the Jayhawks outgained SEMO by 241 yards in three quarters, but when you're Kansas, and you're 4-20 (heading into the SEMO game) in the Charlie Weis era, you probably can't afford to ever let your foot off of the gas.
On Saturday in Statesboro, Georgia, Savannah State lost to Georgia Southern, 83-9.
83-9. That feels more like a cricket score, or maybe a rugby score. It was a bit of a high-water mark for SSU, however, as the Tigers did manage to score nine points. That matches the most they've scored in seven games against FBS teams since 2012.
In all, SSU has scored 35 points in these seven games while allowing 503. Average score, then: FBS Opponent 72, SSU 5.
I just ... what are we doing here, guys? I understand that SSU is taking these games -- against Oklahoma State and Florida State in 2012, Georgia Southern (then a provisional FBS team), Troy, and Miami in 2013, and Middle Tennessee and Georgia Southern in 2014 -- to pay its athletics budget. It's part of FCS life. But few FCS teams do it this frequently, and none do it this poorly. SSU is just 4-36 against FCS teams since 2010, upsetting N.C. Central twice, beating NAIA's Edward Waters by seven in 2012, and beating Division II Fort Valley State by seven in 2013.
The plan isn't working, and the Tigers are getting humiliated (GS rushed for a tidy 599 yards on Saturday). And aside from money, nobody on either side (SSU or its opponents) is getting anything out of these games. I actually advocate for these games because it does allow for at least a little bit of trickle-down effect. (It also gives good FCS teams a chance to show off and claim some scalps.) But it's not working for Savannah State, and something needs to change.
Pitt sophomore James Conner carried 35 times in a 30-20 win over Boston College on Friday night, gaining 213 yards (6.1 per carry). Hoss.
Arizona freshman Nick Wilson, meanwhile, had 30 carries for 174 yards in the Wildcats' tight Thursday night win at UTSA.
Eastern Michigan's defense ranked 123rd in Def. F/+ last season. If a healthy Florida offense couldn't move the ball against the Eagles, then it just wasn't going to happen. Still, Florida did move the ball against EMU, and it had to feel all sorts of cathartic. Kelvin Taylor, Matt Jones, and Mack Brown combined for 191 yards and three scores on 22 carries, and quarterback Jeff Driskel completed 69 percent of his passes in an easy, breezy, 65-0 win.
Granted, there were warning signs. Driskel's 31 completions averaged just 8.0 yards a pop, and his per-attempt average was still a terribly mediocre 5.5 yards. Plus, as good as the running game looked, the Gators did stall and settle for three field goals in the first half. So yeah, there's improvement still to make. But in terms of happy first steps forward, after the debacle of 2013, it doesn't get much happier than this.
Arkansas gained 233 yards and scored five touchdowns in 12 plays in the first quarter against Nicholls State. Sure, it was Nicholls State, which is just a couple of steps above Savannah State on the FCS hierarchy (the Colonels rank only 26 spots higher than SSU), but that's ridiculous.
Not including four sacks for 26 yards, Howard rushed 38 times for 295 yards in a 38-25 loss to Rutgers. Terrance Tusan and Greg McGhee gained 180 yards in 23 carries. Rutgers rushed 37 times for 120 yards. Rutgers won because Howard can't defend the pass, but ... that's not a good look.
Two weeks into the season, 22 FBS players have managed more than 634 total yards of offense via run and pass. So 22 players have outgained Wyoming, in other words. The Cowboys have gained 634 yards and scored 34 points in two weeks ... and they've won twice, first over Montana (17-12), then over Air Force (17-13). BOHL BALL, BABY.
(Vanderbilt, by the way, has gained 445 total yards in two games, less than what 61 teams are averaging per game.)
UAB has gained 1,038 yards in two games this season, one against a Troy team that battled Duke pretty well, and one against a Mississippi State defense that is supposed to be one of the SEC's better units. The Blazers were undone by inefficiency in a 47-34 loss to MSU, completing just 47 percent of their passes and struggling to run the ball. But they completed passes of 88, 81, 75, 53, and 37 yards and hung around much longer than they were supposed to. It's early, but Bill Clark might be one hell of a head coach.