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How the hell did Boise State and Georgia Southern each lose 4 games this year?

Two of the country's premier non-powers saved their most impressive performances of the year for last.

Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

8 combined losses

Team sports can be maddening, especially at the college level. When we see a team playing its best, we forget anything else is possible. We are seduced by brilliance. And then the next week, the team lays an egg.

Playing great, then playing poorly is something we're used to in college football. But it's still difficult to comprehend this: Boise State and Georgia Southern lost eight games this year. Boise State lost at home to New Mexico. Georgia Southern got run out of its own building by Georgia State.

Those were confusing results before Wednesday. After watching Boise State humiliate Northern Illinois in the Poinsettia Bowl, 55-7, and after watching Georgia Southern outscore a legitimately strong Bowling Green, 35-0, in the second half of the GoDaddy Bowl, you're left to wonder how these two teams ever lost.

BGSU was playing under an interim coach after losing Dino Babers to Syracuse. NIU's quarterback issues have been well-documented. But Georgia Southern was also under an interim coach. And ... Boise State outgained Northern Illinois by 603 yards. The only surprise was that the Broncos didn't win by 70.

SB Nation 2015 Bowl Calendar

-0.3 yards per pass attempt

Poor Ryan Graham. NIU's redshirt freshman quarterback began the year as Drew Hare's backup, then moved up when Hare injured his Achilles. Graham helped the Huskies beat Toledo, which became the deciding result in the MAC West. But he sprained his MCL in the regular-season finale against Ohio and missed the MAC title game. He got back into decent enough shape to play in his first bowl.

Graham completed 7 of 21 passes for 38 yards against Boise State. He was also sacked five times (felt like about 12) for a loss of 46 yards, which meant that, including sacks, his 26 pass attempts lost eight total yards. If he had taken the snap and spiked the ball into the ground on those 26 plays, NIU would have ended up eight yards better.

3,353 passing yards

Boise State's own freshman quarterback fared a bit better. Brett Rypien completed 29 of 39 passes for 377 yards, three touchdowns, an interception and two sacks. Yards per pass attempt, including sacks: 8.8.

The bowl eruption means Rypien finished his debut with 3,353 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions. And he didn't even play in the first two games. Ryan Finley began as the starter but was lost to injury in the third game; if Rypien had started from the beginning, he'd have had a chance to cross 4,000 yards.

Rypien will be at the helm of an absolutely loaded Boise State offense in 2016. Sophomore Jeremy McNichols finished with over 1,300 rushing yards and 450 receiving yards this year. Junior receiver Thomas Sperbeck went over 1,400 receiving yards. And only one of Boise State's starting linemen on Wednesday is a senior.

The Broncos have plenty to answer for next fall regarding why they were so inconsistent. But the upside was as obvious as the youth in 2015, especially in the backfield. And there will be less youth in 2016.

15 perfect minutes

A truly perfect quarter is almost impossible, and if we were nitpicking, we could point out that Georgia Southern needed 14 plays to score on its first drive of the third quarter of the GoDaddy Bowl, or that it committed a pass interference on BGSU's first drive. That's the level we have to go to poke holes in a quarter that saw the Eagles outscore the Falcons, 21-0, and outgain them, 171-33. Georgia Southern scored three touchdowns in three possessions, and BGSU lost two fumbles and turned the ball over on downs.

Oh yeah, and Georgia Southern scored on the first play of the fourth quarter, too. So we'll call it a perfect 15 minutes and five seconds.

Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson can apply for a medical redshirt if he chooses, and if he does, he might get a sixth year of eligibility. But if this was his final college football game, what a disappointing way to go out. The BGSU offense was downright nasty for most of 2015; Johnson threw for just short of 5,000 yards, and the Falcons entered the bowl game ranked ninth in Off. S&P+.

After throwing for 187 yards in the first half, Johnson went 7 for 14 for just 59 yards with a sack in the second. His receivers couldn't hold onto long balls, his line didn't give him much time, and as Georgia Southern's option offense took control, Johnson and the BGSU attack couldn't answer. The Falcons had been held under 10 points in a half just twice all year but laid a goose egg in their final half.

26 straight rushes

For a while, the GoDaddy Bowl lost the plot. Option master Georgia Southern attempted four passes in six plays in a second-quarter scoring drive, and air raiding BGSU responded by ripping off a 52-yard run, then attempting a run on fourth-and-9 in the third quarter.

When it was winning time, Southern followed the script. The Eagles' final 26 plays, and 35 of 36 in the second half, were rushes. Quarterback Favian Upshaw, who split time with Kevin Ellison, did the lion's share, with an 80-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and a 42-yarder in the fourth. This was Georgia Southern Football™.

Georgia Southern began play at the I-AA level in 1984 and won the national title in its second year. The Eagles won again in their third year. Head coach Erk Russell introduced the "Georgia Power Company" and won and won and won. Thirty years later, with a modernized version of the same option offense, they won the Sun Belt title in their first year at the FBS level, then won their first bowl game in their second.

Georgia Southern does not waste time.

With Willie Fritz off to Tulane, we don't know what kind of offense new head coach Tyson Summers will try to implement. We've got some recommendations.