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The Numerical, Week 14: Dry Spells, Fabulous Freshmen, And A VanTubbergen

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A look at the numbers that mattered in Week 13 of the college football season, from Tino Sunseri's ridiculous sack rate, to Marqise Lee's explosion, to the Mark Richt Special, to offensive ineptitude in Minnesota, Kentucky and Florida.

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1: Illinois drives that extended more than 26 yards in the Fighting Illini's 27-7 loss to Minnesota. Illinois' offensive collapse over the last half of the regular season has been spectacular, and it all culminated with this performance; they had more punts (nine) than points (seven) against a team that came into the game ranked 99th in Def. F/+.

2: Howard Schnellenberger's potential winning streak to end his career. His Florida Atlantic Owls had lost 13 games in a row before pulling off a 38-35 win over UAB (credit goes to running back Alfred Morris: 198 rushing yards, four touchdowns). They now host 3-8 UL-Monroe in the final game of his lengthy, interesting, mustachioed career.

2.9: Average yards gained in Tommy Rees' 15 pass attempts before the Notre Dame quarterback was lost to an injury in the Irish's 28-14 loss to Stanford. Notre Dame's two worst offensive performances of the year have come in the last two weeks (against Stanford and Boston College).

3: Turnovers on downs suffered by Oregon in their first four drives against Oregon State. The Ducks went for it on fourth-and-5 from the OSU 38, fourth-and-7 from the OSU 31 and fourth-and-14 from the OSU 33, failed to convert all three times ... and won 49-21 anyway. They stopped stalling out after the fourth quarter, ripping off 670 total yards (157 from De'Anthony Thomas, 148 from LaMichael James) and cruising. Still we can add "Went for it on fourth down three times in the first quarter of a rivalry game" to Chip Kelly's list of odd accomplishments. (Similarly, Boise State failed to score on their first four drives against Wyoming, then coasted to a 36-14 win with 479 total yards.)

6.02: Expected points, on average, derived from field goal attempts of 26, 42 and 48 yards. Utah kicker Coleman Peterson produced zero points in three field goals from those distances. His three misses set the table for a 17-14 upset loss, at home, to a Colorado team that was previously 1-7 in conference play, and Utah finished a game short of the Pac-12 South title. Ouch.

10: Points scored directly off of Kansas interceptions in the first half against Missouri. Mizzou quarterback James Franklin, mystified by whipping winds in Arrowhead Stadium, threw picks on three consecutive possessions; the second set up a field goal (on a minus-1 yard drive), and Bradley McDougald returned the third for a touchdown. The turnovers gave the Jayhawks a 10-0 lead, but their offense just could not even pretend to get anything going. They gained just 137 yards for the game, and eventually Franklin found his composure (he completed six of seven passes in the second half for 128 yards and two touchdowns) and led the Tigers to a comfortable, 24-10 win in what might be the final Border War battle for a while.

12: Three-and-out possessions in Kentucky's 10-7 win over Tennessee. Three-and-outs alone ate up more than one-third (20:45) of this brutal, brutal game. Kentucky receiver Matt Roark manned the quarterback position and "led" the Wildcats to 217 yards of offense, ending a decades-long losing streak to the Vols. They forced three Tennessee turnovers and took advantage of the fact that the Vols scored just once in four trips inside the Kentucky 40 (they lost a fumble, turned the ball over on downs and missed a field goal).

13: Length of this ridiculous, backhanded touchdown catch from Marshall's Aaron Dobson in the Thundering Herd's bowl-clinching, 34-27 win over East Carolina.


I mean ... go out to your backyard and give that a try. That might be the toughest catch of the college football season.

24: Minutes it took for N.C. State to not only overcome a 27-point deficit at the hands of Maryland, but to go ahead and roll to a 56-41 win. The Wolfpack were favored by 12 over the horrid Terrapins, fell behind, 41-14, and still covered. That is just staggering. Maryland averaged 8.3 yards per play over their first eight drives, then averaged 3.0 yards and committed three turnovers in their final seven drives. N.C. State started scoring, then just kept on scoring in a win that made the Wolfpack bowl eligible.

25: Combined receptions logged by USC receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods in the Trojans' 50-0 whipping of UCLA. Has Matt Barkley improved, or are these two players simply making his life really easy? Lee, in particular, has been a revelation. The blue-chip freshman has caught 39 passes in the last four games and was absolutely masterful against the Bruins: 15 targets, 13 catches, 224 yards, two touchdowns.

27: Yards gained by Texas while scoring 17 points to start the second half. The Longhorns trailed 16-7 at halftime, but thanks to a pick six by Carrington Byndom and short fields set up by a long punt return from Quandre Diggs and another interception, they managed to surge ahead, 24-16, despite having no semblance of an offense. They would end up winning, 27-25, while gaining just 237 yards of offense, giving A&M their sixth second-half collapse of the season (seven if you include the Texas Tech game they managed to still win).

28: Consecutive points scored by Houston to finish off a 48-16 win at Tulsa. Tulsa was doing everything it could to keep things close and came within 20-16 in the third quarter, but the Cougars hit the accelerator, gaining 240 yards (9.6 per play) in four straight touchdown drives. For the game, Case Keenum added to his ridiculous statistics with a 33-for-46 performance, 457 yards, five touchdowns and no picks.

30.3: The sack rate produced when Pittsburgh's Tino Sunseri dropped to pass in the Panthers' 21-20 loss to West Virginia. He attempted 33 passes, but got the pass off only 23 times. (This makes poor Washington State quarterback Marshall Lobbestael feel better; he was only sacked seven times in 49 pass attempts in the Cougars' 38-21 loss to Washington.) The 10 sacks capped a sacktastic regular season for the Pitt offense; the Panthers allowed 52 sacks in 12 games, by far the worst in the country. In fact, only one other team (Miami-Ohio) allowed more than 40. Congratulations, guys!

48.1: Average starting field position for Connecticut in their 40-22 upset win over Rutgers. They scored touchdowns on drives of zero (fumble return), 24, 34, 40 and 41 yards and coasted despite averaging just 4.5 yards per play. That's what happens when you force six turnovers worth 31.8 equivalent points (as defined here).

50: Total plays run by Arkansas in their 41-17 loss to LSU. After their 11-play, first quarter touchdown drive, they managed just one drive of more than four plays, either punting or turning the ball over in hasty fashion. LSU, meanwhile, ground out drives of eight, nine, ten, ten and 14 plays (75 plays in all), and predictably, Arkansas' defense had collapsed by the fourth quarter. LSU averaged 3.9 yards per play in the first quarter and 7.4 yards per play in their first three drives of the fourth quarter.

73: Zach Maynard's completion percentage in California's 47-38 win over Arizona State. The junior had to that point completed just 56 percent of his passes for the season, but he went 19-for-26 for 237 yards and a touchdown against the collapsing Sun Devils, and he threw in five carries for 40 yards to boot. Granted, ASU's defense did the Golden Bears some favors, but it is worth noting that after bottoming out against UCLA (14-for-30, four interceptions), Maynard produced the following passing line over his final four games of the regular season: 62-for-91 (68 percent), 763 yards (8.4 per pass), five touchdowns, one interception.

Louisville freshman Teddy Bridgewater has seen a similar surge. He completed 19 of 28 passes for 241 yards and three touchdowns in the Cardinals' 34-24 win over South Florida, and in the last five games, he has completed 70 percent of his passes (89 of 127) for 1,024 yards (8.1 per pass), seven touchdowns and three interceptions. Bridgewater was the gem of Charlie Strong's 2011 recruiting class, and he has found his sea legs pretty quickly. The Cardinals need some help (namely, they need UConn to upset Cincinnati), but they head into the final weekend of the regular season with a chance to win the Big East with a true freshman behind center. To say the least, that bodes well for the future.

153: Yards gained (in just seven plays) by Miami in their first two drives against Boston College, both of which ended in touchdowns. They would then gain 148 yards in their next 10 drives. They punted six times (including four three-and-outs), and Jacory Harris threw four interceptions, and what at first looked like an easy win turned into a 24-17 loss.

Penn State knows the feeling. They gained 75 yards in eight plays on their first drive against Wisconsin, then gained 158 (3.6 per play) the rest of the way. Wisconsin then methodically scored the game's final 45 points, thanks mostly to Montee Ball (156 rushing yards, 15 receiving yards, four touchdowns) and his last-second "possibly make the list of Heisman finalists" surge.

155: Yards by which Alabama's Trent Richardson outgained Auburn's Michael Dyer on the ground (203 to 48) on Saturday. Guess who won by 28 points?

(Hint: it wasn't Auburn.)

Meanwhile, using rushing and passing stats, South Carolina's Connor Shaw (194 passing*, 123 rushing) outgained Clemson's Tajh Boyd (49 passing, 12 rushing) by a cool 256 yards in the Gamecocks' 34-13 romp over the Tigers.

(* In The Numerical, I typically deduct sack yardage from the passing ledger, a la the NFL, instead of punishing rushing stats for what happened on pass attempts. Shaw "officially" had 210 passing yards and 107 rushing yards.)

279: Total yards generated in Florida State's 21-7 win over Florida. Or, to put it in more ridiculous terms, the two teams combined for fewer yards than what 87 teams gained by themselves last week. Pittsburgh allowed 10 sacks and still outgained these two teams by 17 yards. Florida State's longest play from scrimmage: a 14-yard pass. And they won. By two touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Texas Tech and Baylor combined to gain 782 more yards (and score 80 more points) than the Gators and Seminoles. Baylor won, 66-42, and gained 617 yards despite the fact that quarterback Robert Griffin III was knocked out of the game with a concussion in the first half. Nick Florence completed nine of 12 passes in relief, but all he really had to do was hand the ball to big Terrance Ganaway (42 carries, 246 yards, two touchdowns). Baylor is 8-3 and, with wins over Texas and their bowl opponent, still has a chance to win 10 games for just the second time in school history.

281: Yards gained by Georgia in the first five drives of their 31-17 win over Georgia Tech. In what is becoming the Mark Richt Special™, the Bulldogs bolted out to a lead with some fantastic offense (9.1 yards per play), then crawled into a shell (85 yards over the last five drives) and let the defense hold on for the victory. But hey, a 10-game winning streak is a 10-game winning streak regardless of aesthetics.

285.6: Passer rating amassed by Western Michigan's Tyler VanTubbergen in a 68-19 win over Akron. Granted, it was against Akron, so it might not count, but the first-time starter completed 19 of 21 passes for 252 yards and six touchdowns (he added 60 rushing yards as well) in what was probably the most efficient stat line of the week. And his name is Tyler VanTubbergen, which is worth 60 Scrabble points if you have a Triple Word Score.

690: Combined yards (passing and rushing) gained by Denard Robinson and Braxton Miller in Michigan's crazy, 40-34 win over Ohio State. Robinson was spectacular for Michigan, completing 14 of 17 passes (82 percent) for 167 yards and three touchdowns while ripping off 173 pre-sack rushing yards and scoring twice on the ground. That was enough to earn Michigan's first win over the Buckeyes in almost a decade, but thanks to Miller, it wasn't easy. The freshman completed just 14 of 25 passes, but he made them count (235 yards, two touchdowns), and he ripped off 115 pre-sack rushing yards of his own. Urban Meyer is going to have some fun with him.