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The Numerical, Week 7: Triple Threats And Kansas State's Statistical Allergy

This week's visit of the statistics that mattered last weekend in the world of college football. Time to take on Kansas State's aversion to good statistics, some strong three-way threats and ... um ... defend Ron Zook a little.

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2: Kicks blocked by San Jose State's Travis Johnson during the Spartans' madcap 28-27 win over Hawaii Friday night. Hawaii committed five first-half turnovers and was still in position to win, but Johnson's first block (of a PAT) resulted in a three-point swing when Duke Ihenacho returned it for two points despite a cramping leg, and his second (of a field goal) meant that when San Jose State scored a touchdown with 36 seconds left, they took the lead instead of still needing a two-point conversion to tie. The game featured an incredible-slash-ridiculous 12 turnovers (worth 60.4 equivalent points, as defined here) and was, in general, horribly played. But man, was it fun.

Meanwhile, Kansas State's Raphael Guidry also blocked two field goal attempts in the Wildcats' 41-34 win at Texas Tech. KSU continues to win games in ways that don't actually involve good statistics (amazingly, they rank 62nd in S&P+, between 3-3 California and 3-3 Hawaii). In Lubbock, the Wildcats used special teams (blocked field goals, a kick return touchdown) and good, old reliable turnovers (Tech committed four of them, worth 22.6 equivalent points) to build a lead, then held on when Tech recovered a late onside kick.

2.2: Average gain, in yards, of Texas quarterback David Ash's 45 pass attempts in the Longhorns' 38-26 loss to Oklahoma State. Texas' defense slowed down the OSU pass attack -- 42 Brandon Weeden pass attempts averaged just 5.2 yards each -- but Ash, chosen as starter over Case McCoy, was able to complete just 22 of 40 passes for 139 yards, two interceptions and five sacks. This speaks to how far Texas still has to go on the offensive side of the ball, but it also speaks to the gains Oklahoma State has made on defense: the Cowboys are one of just four teams ranking in the Top 10 in both Off. S&P+ and Def. S&P+ (Alabama, Boise State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State).

3: Ways in which Clemson's Sammy Watkins made an impact in the Tigers' 56-45, comeback win over Maryland. Watkins caught eight of nine passes thrown his way for 105 yards and gained 33 yards on the ground on CU's opening drive. Then, after Maryland retook the lead at 45-42 with 7:35 left in the game, the five-star freshman ripped off an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Maryland turned the ball over on downs, Andre Ellington scored on a 44-yard run, and that was the ballgame. Clemson is still trying to overcome the "They're Clemson, and they'll blow it" stereotype, and nothing says "Not The Old Clemson Anymore" like Watkins' ridiculously exciting play.

And while we're celebrating three-way threats, how about Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy? He carried the ball 17 times for 97 yards, caught two passes for 16 yards, and completed a 43-yard touchdown pass in the Commodores' 33-28 loss to Georgia. Fightin' James Franklin and coordinator Herb Hand emptied the playbook in VU's upset effort -- Stacy's halfback pass and a fake punt played a key role -- but four turnovers (worth 19.1 equivalent points) and a spectacular game from Georgia receiver Marlon Brown (seven targets, four catches, 121 yards, two touchdowns) did them in.

Another three-way threat, you say? You must be asking for Wisconsin quarterback (and Heisman threat) Russell Wilson, who completed 12 of 17 passes for 166 yards and a touchdowns, carried the ball twice for 42 yards, and caught a 25-yard touchdown pass in the Badgers' 59-7 romp over Indiana.

And does Missouri's Henry Josey count? He rushed for 129 yards on 19 carries in Mizzou's 52-17 win over Iowa State, returned two kick returns for 70 yards, and ... caught a pass for six yards.

4: Games Eastern Michigan has won in 2011. They are 4-3 for the first time since 1995. I don't care that they've played two FCS teams, and I don't care what will happen the rest of the way. Celebrate underdog successes while you can, and by beating Central Michigan, 35-28, on the road, EMU certainly qualifies as at least a temporary underdog success story. And while we're at it, let's celebrate New Mexico State's 3-3 record as well after the Aggies' 31-24 win over Idaho (a game that, strangely, included three special teams touchdowns). But do it fast -- the Aggies were 3-3 in both 2008 and 2009 and finished each season 0-6 and 0-7, respectively.

6.6: Average per-play gain by Virginia Tech in their 38-17 win over Wake Forest. Two weeks ago, Tech gained just 258 yards in a 23-3 home loss to Clemson, and memes both old ("VIRGINIA TECH NEEDS A NEW OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR") and new ("LOGAN THOMAS SHOULD HAVE STAYED AT TIGHT END; HE HAS NO NATURAL QUARTERBACK SKILLS") collided. Since then, Tech has scored 76 points and gained 955 yards in wins over Miami and Wake Forest. Thomas averaged 8.1 yards per pass attempt and gained 44 yards on the ground versus the Deacs; he has experienced his own breakthrough of sorts these past two weeks. We'll see if it continues.

12.4: Average gain of each play during Florida State's first four drives against Duke. The Seminoles built a 24-3 lead by gaining 234 yards on their first 19 plays, then coasted to an easy 41-16 win. Quarterback E.J. Manuel put together a lovely stat line -- 9-for-14, 239 yards, two touchdowns, two sacks; nine carries, 81 yards, two rushing touchdowns.

14: Consecutive games Stanford has won since last year's loss to Oregon in Eugene. It took them a little while to get rolling in their 44-14 win over Washington State, but in the end you couldn't tell it -- they outgained the Cougars, 475-257, and Andrew Luck completed 23 of 36 passes for 336 yards, four touchdowns and a pick.

14.3: Iowa's third down conversion percentage against Northwestern. They were 1-for-7, but this did not prevent the Hawkeyes from gaining 379 yards (7.6 per play) and scoring 41 points in a ten-point win. How? By avoiding third downs altogether. Only 16 percent of Iowa's plays came on passing downs, meaning Iowa was doing all sorts of damage on first and second downs.

19.1: Value, in equivalent points, of the three turnovers Rutgers committed in their 21-20 win over Navy. In an incredibly unimpressive weekend for the Big East, the Scarlet Knights narrowly avoided an upset, but they sacked Navy quarterback Kriss Proctor four times in 16 pass attempts, and Rutgers freshman Gary Nova (23-for-31, 271 yards, two touchdowns, two picks) looked just good enough to fend off the Middies.

24: Yards generated by eight passes targeting South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery. He caught five of them and didn't get anywhere with any of them. The Free Alshon Jeffery campaign ended when quarterback Stephen Garcia was benched in favor of Connor Shaw, but let's just say that with Marcus Lattimore injured, Jeffery, and the quarterback passing him the ball will need to raise their respective games.

33: Yards generated by Florida running back Chris Rainey's 16 carries in the Gators' 17-6 loss to Auburn. He caught just two of the five passes thrown his way for 30 yards, too. Quarterback issues can cool off even the most blazing of skill position players, and to say the least, Florida is undergoing some quarterback issues at the moment.

35: First downs converted by Texas A&M in their 55-28 win over Baylor. The Aggies took their customary double-digit lead into halftime, but unlike the last three weeks (in which they blew leads to Arkansas and Oklahoma State and almost did the same versus Texas Tech), they kept their foot on the accelerator after halftime; they scored 31 points and gained 370 yards after the break.

56: Approximate percentage of time you should expect to convert a fourth-and-3 from between your opponent's 11 and 20. Down 17-7 with 1:11 left, Illinois faced this situation and elected to go for the first down instead of the gimme field goal. Zook caught major hell for this, but honestly, the numbers at least somewhat back up the call. If Illinois makes the field goal and recovers the onside kick, they have to advance the ball about 60 yards in just over a minute. For an offense that gained just 4.1 yards per play (285 total) for the game, that would have been a tall task. Having advanced to the Ohio State 17, Illinois faced a down-and-distance combination that offered them decent odds of conversion, and they had Drag Route King™ A.J. Jenkins on their team. Nathan Scheelhase's pass to Jenkins failed to find its mark, and Illinois lost, but a) odds of them tying the game were terrible no matter what, and b) there is a solid defense for the choices Zook made. (Of course, this assumes that Zook was using logic and hadn't just lost track of the score again. That might be an incredibly faulty assumption.)

72: Yards gained by Ole Miss on their first drive of the game versus Alabama. That is three more yards than they gained throughout the rest of the game. Rebel quarterback Randall Mackey found freshman receiver Nickolas Brassell for a 59-yard pass that set up a one-yard touchdown run and gave Ole Miss a 7-0 lead. The rest of the game, Alabama outscored them, 52-7, and outgained them, 615-69. Alabama is so good (tackles for loss: 14), and Ole Miss' offense is just so bad. The Tide didn't even need this ridiculous Trent Richardson run, but as a football fan, I'm glad they got it.

90: Rushing yards Oregon running back Kenjon Barner gained in the fourth quarter of the Ducks' 41-27 win over Arizona State. No LaMichael James? Costly early Barner fumble? Quarterback Darron Thomas tweaks his knee in the third quarter just for good measure? No worries. Barner (171 yards for the game) and backup quarterback Bryan Bennett (2-for-5 passing) got the job done late.

114: Combined yards gained by Utah and Pittsburgh on their opening drives (5.2 per play). They combined to gain just 255 the rest of the game. In 114 plays. Pittsburgh recorded 17 tackles for loss and lost, 26-14. One could argue that games like Auburn-Florida or Ohio State-Illinois set offensive football back a few decades, but Utah-Pitt may have set it back a century.

166: Yards gained by Miami (Ohio) in their 9-3 win over Kent State. Poor Kent State currently ranks 23rd in yards allowed and 28th in Def. S&P+ ... but 120th, dead last, in both yards gained and Off. S&P+. They have a defense a good percentage of FBS teams would love to have, and they are 1-6, 0-3 in the MAC.

229: Rushing yards gained by Toledo backs Morgan Williams and David Fluellen in the Rockets' 28-21 win over Bowling Green. Thanks to the odd combination of solid non-conference schedule (Boise State, Ohio State), big wins over bad teams and the phasing out of preseason projections, Toledo is a jarring 16th in this week's S&P+ rankings. Unless Northern Illinois has something to say about it, it appears the Rockets are very much the class of the MAC this season. NIU surged back into the MAC title picture by rushing for 500 yards (not including three kneeldowns) in their 51-22 win over Western Michigan. NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish is still a statistical dreamboat; he completed 14 of 27 passes for 203 yards and carried the ball 14 times for 229 yards against the Broncs.

742: Yards gained by Boise State in their 63-13 win over Colorado State. The best part: they could legitimately complain about sloppiness costing them. They missed a field goal, they lost a fumble at the CSU 13, and they turned the ball over on downs at the CSU 29. Without a few mistakes, they could have quite easily scored 80 points. Kellen Moore completed 26 of 30 passes, Doug Martin gained 200 yards in just 20 carries, and the Broncos showed that if you dominate cupcakes enough, you can continue to thrive in certain computer rankings.