Nearing the halfway point of this season, two football truths have become evident.
If it’s a one-possession game, anything can happen. Looking at you, North Carolina and Tennessee.
If a team trails by three or even four touchdowns, it ain’t over until it’s over. Don’t flip over to Netflix or leave for the parking lot until it’s 0:00.
(We’re looking at you, too, Mack Brown. ESPN needs a new office manager scheduling assignments. Being in Provo, Utah, for a game that kicked off at 10:15 EST and then scheduled to be in the studio in Bristol, Conn., at noon EST is why Brown had to leave in the middle of a bananas Toledo-BYU game. Even with over 1,200 yards of offense, there was no weather delay and the game time was 3:39; ESPN, you got some ‘splainin’ to do.)
Other than the fact that college football is the Greatest Sport In The History Of Sports, why are we seeing these crazy comebacks and fantastic finishes? One word: offense. The scoreboard is in play until the clock runs out because teams can move the ball far and fast.
For instance, there were five games Saturday in which each team had 500 or more yards. FYI, the FBS record for most combined yards in a game is 1,640. That happened in 2001 between San Jose State (849 yards) and Nevada (791).
The weekend’s 1-K club
|Teams, total offense||Combined||Result|
|Toledo (692), BYU (586)||1,278||BYU, 55-53|
|North Carolina (538), Florida State (595)||1,133||North Carolina, 37-35|
|Texas (568), Oklahoma State (555)||1,123||Oklahoma State, 49-31|
|Oklahoma (534), TCU (514)||1,048||Oklahoma, 52-46|
|Louisville (568), Clemson (507)||1,033||Clemson, 42-36|
There are 21 teams currently averaging 500 yards in total offense. Last season, 15 teams finished at 500-plus. For perspective, in 1995, four teams averaged 500 yards per game.
Ten teams topped 600 yards of total offense. LSU, which has been challenged to gain first downs, had 634 yards against Missouri, a school record for a Southeastern Conference game. Southern Miss had a school-record 702 yards against Rice. Toledo gained 692 yards at BYU … but lost 55-53 on a last-play field goal.
West Coast nighttime football can produce memorable plays, but often they’re only experienced by the fans in attendance or the night owls who have access to any and all streaming video devices.
Saturday night in UNLV’s 14-7 victory over Fresno State, Runnin’ Rebels quarterback Dalton Sneed turned a safety into a 91-yard touchdown run. The Weekend Rewind proudly presents the video.
From a statistical perspective, “PF” and “PA” aren’t abbreviations for “personal foul” or “Pennsylvania.” Those letters stand for “points for” and “points against.” At this point of the seasons, those numbers are more significant.
South Alabama is 3-2 and at .500 in PF (136) and PA (136). Two of the Jaguars’ victories are by one point. Arizona is 147-146 and has two victories by 10 and 19 points. Stanford is 81-80 in scoring, but that includes Friday’s 38-point loss at Washington.
BYU’s points for (141) and points against (138) is the most revealing statistical combo of the Cougars’ season thus far. BYU has two victories by two points (18-16 and 55-53) and three losses by a total of seven points — 20-19, 17-14 and 35-32.
Let’s talk quarterbacks
- Against Clemson, which is 12th in total defense, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson had 75 touches – completing 27 of 44 for 295 yards and a touchdown while rushing 31 times for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Jackson has 28 touchdowns (14 rushing, 14 passing) and 168 points in five games. He’s second in total offense behind Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes.
- Your No. 1 quarterback in terms of passing efficiency in the current NCAA statistics is … Toledo junior Logan Woodside. He’s completing 67.5 percent of his throws (81 of 120) for 1,444 yards, 16 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
- Washington sophomore quarterback Jake Browning is second in passing efficiency. Going back to last season and including a bowl victory, the Huskies have won eight consecutive games. In those games, Browning has completed 69.8 percent with 21 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
- Only one of the top 15 QBs in passing efficiency is a senior – Western Michigan’s Zach Terrell.
- Terrell is one of three quarterbacks still alive in the Last Interception Pool. He has 119 attempts and 12 touchdowns without a pick. North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky (175 attempts, 13 touchdowns) and North Carolina State’s Ryan Finley (116 attempts and nine TDs) are also clean.
As we go into the season’s second month, the rankings are starting to shake out. Some notable items in this week’s polls.
- No. 10 Miami plays host to No. 23 Florida State Saturday. The last time the Hurricanes were ranked against the Seminoles for their rivalry game was 2010.
- Colorado (4-1) is ranked No. 21, returning to the rankings for the first time in 11 years.
- Eastern Michigan won its first Mid-American Conference road opener since 2005 and is 4-1 for the first time since 1995. The Eagles received a vote in the coaches’ poll – the first time that’s happened in school history.
- North Dakota State, which is back to playing FCS schools, is still benefiting from its victory over Iowa. The Bison received 46 points (the same as Auburn) is No. 29 in the AP poll.
- An additional “others receiving votes” note: Indiana has two more points in the AP poll than Texas (which one pollster ranked No. 25, giving the Longhorns one point) and more than in-state rivals Notre Dame and Purdue (each received zero votes).
- Washington won a top-10 matchup for the first time since beating Michigan in the 1992 Rose Bowl and splitting the national title. The 44-6 victory over Stanford was biggest margin of victory over an Associated Press top 10 team in school history. The Huskies are 5-0 for the first time since 1992.
- Central Florida, under first-year coach Scott Frost, has totaled 100 points (53 and 47) in its last two games. Last season, the Knights averaged 13.9 points per game and scored 167 points in 12 games.
- Apparently the best strategy for Tennessee opponents is to let the Volunteers build an early lead. Tennessee has trailed Appalachian State 13-0, Virginia Tech 14-0, Florida 21-0 and Georgia 17-0 but has rallied to win all four of those games. Against Power Five competition, Tennessee has trailed a combined 52-0 before scoring. The Vols are playing with fire but have yet to get burned.
- On the flip side of Tennessee are Washington and Miami. They are the only FBS teams to not trail in a game this season.
- Nebraska has outscored opponents 185-88, and in the fourth quarter the Huskers hold a dominating 78-8 edge.
- Ohio State is the only FBS team that hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown this season. Opponents have run the ball 139 times and are averaging 2.8 yards per attempt. The Buckeyes are 12th nationally in rushing offense.
- Oregon has lost three in a row for the first time since 2006 and faces No. 5 Washington this Saturday in Eugene. Since losing in the 2014 national championship game, the Ducks are allowing 37.4 points per game.
- Purdue coach Darrell Hazel is in his fourth season and the Boilermakers have won eight games (2-2 thus far in 2016). Purdue hasn’t been able to gain traction because it has followed up those victories with lopsided losses, losing by an averaging of 21.5 points in games following a win.
With all the crazy comebacks and last-second reversals of fortunes, the media members who write about college football have been faced with challenges when it comes to describing the outcomes. Sometimes, it comes down to this:
The Weekend Rewind admits that Houston coach Tom Herman is becoming a favorite because of his quotes that are anything but typical. The Cougars mauled Connecticut, the only team to beat UH last season, 42-14, Friday night. Herman’s comment:
“We never use the word revenge. The word we used was atonement – to make a wrong a right. We had a chance to atone for the transgressions of last year’s team.”