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The Numerical, Week 12: Field Goals Are Worth Three Points

Looking at the numbers that mattered in Week 11 of the college football season, from the ability of Houston to outgain most of the SEC, to the value of a field goal, to the profligacy of Ole Miss players with the initials 'B.B.'

We'll count down from the top again, just because that means we're starting with the fun tidbits.

4,088: Total yards from scrimmage gained in four mid-week MAC games last week. Toledo gained a ridiculous 804 in their 66-63 win over Western Michigan, but they still almost lost because a) WMU gained 635, and b) Toledo turned the ball over six times. Of the four games, the lowest yardage total (and per-play average) belonged to Temple, who 'only' gained 310 yards (5.1 per play). Bowling Green gained 334, Central Michigan 427, Miami (Ohio) 428, Ohio 527 and Northern Illinois 623. That's eight "games" and more yards than 24 teams are on pace to gain in 12 games of their own.

735: Yards gained by Houston in their ridiculous 73-17 win over Tulane on Thursday night. This is notable, not only because 735 yards (11.0 per play!) is ridiculous, but because four SEC teams (Mississippi State, Auburn, Kentucky and Florida) combined to gain 798. Boston College, meanwhile, gained 190 yards in a win, and Utah and UCLA combined for just 176 yards in the first half of Utah's 31-6 win. Thank you, MACtion and Houston, for doing your part to entertain even if nobody else will.

160: Yards gained in Miami's final two drives against Florida State (8.9 per play); both drives resulted in touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, a) they had gained only 224 yards in their first nine drives (4.3 per play), and b) three turnovers worth 15.0 equivalent points (as defined here) assured that they were down too much to the Seminoles to catch up in a 23-19 loss.

133: Yards gained by the 35 Ole Miss passes not thrown to running back Brandon Bolden. Bolden rushed for 46 yards and caught two passes for 66 yards in the Rebels' 27-7 loss to Louisiana Tech; quarterbacks Zack Stoudt and Randall Massey completed just 12 of 35 passes to other players. Of course, there could be a reason for this level of ineptitude ... evidently Bolden succeeded a bit because Tech thought "B.B." stood for fullback Billy Busch? Scout team quarterback Barry Brunetti? Defensive tackle Bryon Bennett?

96: Yards gained by Western Kentucky in their first two drives against LSU. They scored a touchdown (something Alabama couldn't do) and held onto a 7-7 tie for quite a while. However, their final 51 plays generated just 130 yards and zero points as LSU eventually got around to pulling away for a 42-9 win.

94: Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson's completion percentage in 17 passes during the Badgers' 42-13 win over Minnesota. He completed 16 passes for 178 yards and four touchdowns; the culprit of the incompletion? Nick Toon, who caught only nine of 10 passes targeting him for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Wilson completely trumped Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray's performance. Murray completed only 14 of 18 passes for 224 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 10.1 yards per pass attempt (inc. sacks) despite three sacks.

55: Solo tackles made by Oklahoma State in their 66-6 win over Texas Tech. Say whatever you want about the OSU defense -- they allow too many yards, they won't be able to count on turnovers to bail them out all year, etc. The fact is, they don't miss tackles. They avoid big plays, they make you drive the length of the field, they tip balls at the line of scrimmage ... they do everything a defense needs to do for perfect bend-don't-break execution. Is it enough to get past Oklahoma in a few weeks? Is it enough to potentially win the national title? We'll see.

49: Penn State receiver Derek Moye's catch rate for the 2011 season. At the major conference level, only Ohio State's Devin Smith (42%), Iowa State's Darius Reynolds (46%) and Ole Miss' Donte Moncrief (48%) have worse catch rates for a No. 1 target. Moye caught four passes for 78 yards in the Nittany Lions' 17-14 loss to Nebraska, which seems semi-impressive until you realize that seven other passes directed at him hit the turf. That he is averaging 17.4 yards per catch in 2011 is impressive, and it makes him a semi-viable weapon, but efficiency is part of the game, and Penn State simply has none in the passing gmae.

43: Yards generated by 12 passes targeting Florida International receiver T.Y. Hilton and South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery. Hilton caught eight of ten passes, but they gained just 26 yards; Jeffery, meanwhile, caught two of two for 17 yards. September's stars are November's afterthoughts. These two now-forgotten stars had an unlikely teammate on Saturday, however: USC's Robert Woods. Seven passes targeting Woods resulted in just two catches and five yards. Luckily for USC, however, a) this was really the first time all season that Woods didn't produce (Hilton and Jeffery have had the non-production thing down for a while), and b) USC also has Marquise Lee, who caught nine passes in a 40-17 win over Washington.

On the other, more exciting end of the spectrum, were two receiving duos who produced almost a season's worth of receiving yards. TCU receivers Josh Boyce and Brandon Carter combined for nine catches (on 11 targets), 283 yards and five touchdowns in the Horned Frogs' 36-35 upset of Boise State. Meanwhile, Washington State's Marquess Wilson and Isiah Barton were even more ridiculous: 20 targets, 15 catches, 378 yards and four touchdowns in a 37-27 upset of Arizona State.

41: Points scored by Illinois in a win over Indiana on October 8. They have scored 42 since then. The Illini are mired in a four-game losing streak because they evidently misplaced their offense somewhere on the road back from Bloomington. Retrace your steps, guys. Did you stop to go to the bathroom anywhere on the trip back? Did somebody have a window open on the bus?

31: Carries, including sacks, attempted by Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein in the Wildcats' 53-50, quadruple-overtime win over Texas A&M. KSU running backs John Hubert and Angelo Pease gained just 33 yards in 15 carries, Kansas State lost the turnover battle, and the Wildcats trailed by double digits with under six minutes remaining. But somehow, they won, and in this case, "somehow" means "because Collin Klein willed it so." He rushed for 126 non-sack yards and five touchdowns, and he completed 17 of 27 passes for 281 yards and another touchdown. He always picks the right running lane, always sees said lane opening before you do, and while he isn't the only reason the Wildcats are 8-2, he is most of the reasons.

29.5: Value, in equivalent points, of the five turnovers Stanford committed in their 53-30 loss to Oregon. The Ducks hacked at the ball, slammed Andrew Luck in the pocket, and made more than enough plays to complement an offense that featured two long touchdown passes and 146 rushing yards from LaMichael James. Stanford missed Chris Owusu, and their lack of overall speed (which is what happens when you send out a lineup of Luck and 10 tight ends) was evident.

24: Unanswered points scored by UAB in a 41-35 comeback win over poor Memphis. Memphis led 35-17 heading into the fourth quarter, but over the game's final eight drives, UAB outgained the Tigers by a 282-33 margin and zoomed ahead to steal the win. Wake Forest can, to some degree, feel Memphis' pain. The Demon Deacons led Clemson, 28-14, until getting outgained by a 258-49 margin over the game's final nine drives and falling, 31-28. (That Clemson did this without a dinged-up Sammy Watkins added insult to injury.)

11: South Florida receivers who caught one of quarterback B.J. Daniels' 23 completions in the Bulls' 37-17 win over Syracuse on Friday. Daniels just threw to everybody in a USF uniform, and it worked. Daniels went 23-for-34 for 254 yards and rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown in USF's first conference win. Variety worked out better for Daniels than it did for Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater. The young quarterback found nine different receivers in the Cardinals' 21-14 loss to Pitt, but his 18 completions only went for 165 yards. Sometimes "variety" and "diversity" only mean "no go-to guy."

10.6: Combined average gain of Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin's 29 pass attempts and 10 rushes against Kansas. He completed 22 of 29 passes for 312 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, and he rushed 10 times for 103 yards and a touchdown. If I had shared only that tidbit with you, you'd have thought Baylor would have won about 48-6. Alas, Baylor's four turnovers (worth 21.7 equivalent points) and a steady, if not so explosive, Kansas offense (404 yards, 4.4 per play) kept the Jayhawks in the game, to say the least. (That, and a lovely game of keep-away: KU ran 91 plays to Baylor's 58.) Kansas actually led, 24-3, with just 12 minutes remaining before a late Baylor charge sent the game to overtime. In OT, both teams traded touchdowns; Kansas lost when they failed on a two-point conversion attempt.

(KU's two-point conversion wasn't the only failed late upset attempt. Central Florida scored with no time remaining in regulation but lost to Southern Miss, 30-29, when their two-point pass hit the turf.)

10: Tackles for loss made by Maryland ... while allowing 508 yards to Notre Dame in a 45-21 loss. Pretty much the definition of an all-or-nothing defensive effort.

4.8: Average gain of Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg's 50 pass attempts in the Hawkeyes' 37-21 loss to Michigan State. Vandenberg went 22-for-47 for 262 yards and was sacked three times for a loss of 22. Only eight of the 18 passes directed at the great Marvin McNutt, Jr., found their mark (he gained 130 yards), in part because MSU broke up six passes as well. State's defense is just fantastic this year, and it is a major reason why they are now in control of their destiny in the Big Ten Legends Leaders Legends Division.

3: Value of a field goal. I felt this would be a useful reminder, as we saw so few actually go through the uprights this week that it may have been easy to forget. Never mind the most visible examples -- Boise State's egregious miss that ended a long home winning streak, the Stanford miss that came as close to the press box as the goal posts; those are too easy. Instead, focus on, say, the Alabama-Mississippi State and West Virginia-Cincinnati games that saw the four teams combine to go 2-for-10. Only one attempt in the UA-MSU game was from beyond 41 yards; meanwhile, WVU and UC each had a relative chip shot (31 for Cincy, 39 for WVU) blocked. Special teams turn games around, and evidently only LSU plays special teams anymore.

(We'll give San Jose State a pass, by the way. They had an attempted game-winner against Utah State blocked at the buzzer just like Cincinnati, only theirs was from 67 yards. That is a kick you are supposed to block. Plus, they made four other kicks.)

1.7: Average gain on Idaho's 23 pass attempts against BYU. It goes without saying, but BYU won, 42-7.

1: Yard gained by Georgia Tech after a ghastly penalty by GT defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu gave Virginia Tech second life in the Hokies' eventual 37-26 win on Thursday night. At the end of a sack that would have forced Va. Tech to punt on 4th-and-21, Attaochu inexplicably punched quarterback Logan Thomas in the helmet. (I mean, it's hard to bring that big guy down, but ... the whistle had blown! The sack counted! You won!) At the time, Ga. Tech led by a 26-21 margin. From that point forward, however, it was all Va. Tech. They outscored GT, 17-0, and outgained them a ridiculous 156-1.

0: Passes completed by Navy quarterback Kriss Proctor in the Midshipmen's 24-17 win over SMU. His official line: 0-for-2 with one interception. He also rushed for 107 yards, of course, and when a couple of early SMU interceptions allowed the Middies to build a 10-0 lead, they were more than happy to milk that for all it was worth.