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Inside the Stats: Week 1 College Football Wrap Up

If you are like me, then you are just starting to wind down from watching 5 consecutive days of college football. While withdrawal is setting in, I can take solace in the fact that the start to an exciting week 2 is just about 24 hours away. While we have some great matchups to look forward to including potential OOC games of the year candidates with A&M vs. Clemson and LSU vs. Texas, I thought this was a good time to look back at some of wild stat lines of week1.

After analyzing data from dozens of statistical categories a few things really jumped out at me, so here is the re-cap from a fantastic week 1 of the college football season.

Got to establish the Run:Tulsa -73 Yards Rushing on 25 attempts for -2.9 YPC

Even in the age of the “Air Raid” any good coach will tell you that nothing beats a solid ground game. Running the football is still best way to impose your will on your opponent, wear them down and win ball games. With that being said what the heck happened to Tulsa?

When I first saw this stat line, I thought it was a mistake but after checking it a few times, turns it its true. Tulsa rushed for an abysmal -73 yards rushing against Michigan State. Now to be fair to Tulsa, -39 of those yards came on 6 sacks which ultimately count against their rushing total but still leaves another -34 yards earned in the run game

Runners (or non-Runners) Up for worst rushing performance are (Liberty -4, Texas State 8, Florida Atlantic 22, South Florida 26)

Need to Stop the Run, No Really, You have To: Georgia Tech Rush Defense 411 yards on 49 Attempts

Now granted it was against Clemson and I respect the hell out of Geoff Collins for the work he’s done on the defensive side of the ball with UCF, Mississippi & Temple, but Clemson's run game had it's way with the Georgia Tech Run Defense. In addition to the 411 yards gained, Clemson racked up 8.4 yards per carry on 49 attempts and 5 rushing TD’s.

Etienne's big night on the ground leads to rout of Georgia Tech

Can’t Stop the (Run 'ers Up): Houston 354 yards, 9.6 yards per attempt & 4 TD’s, Vanderbilt 323 yards & 8.1 yards per attempt, Florida International 350 yards.

Protect the QB, Please! Miami QB Sacked 10 times for -60 Yards

Well technically it was week 0, but Miami’s freshman QB was running for his life all night against the Gator defense and was sacked an amazing 10 times. Maybe Tate Martel new something that we all didn’t and happily volunteered for a switch to WR, but regardless of who the QB is, Miami needs to sure up that protection scheme.

Other Teams working on pass protection as we speak: Liberty 8 sacks against for -51 yards, Tulsa 6 for -39 & Boise State 6 sacks against for -37 yards.

"Turn IT Over Chain" Award: Purdue -5.0 Turnover Margin

Miami has created a buzz over the past few years with the creation of the turnover chain, where the player who comes up with a fumble or INT gets to rock the gold “301” chain for all to see. While Purdue wasn’t playing Miami week 1, they sure acted like it by turning the ball over 5 times against Nevada in an upset loss. In addition to throwing 2 INT’s, Purdue coughed the ball up 3 times for a total of 5 turnovers. To make matters even worse, Nevada was turnover free coming out +5 in TO Margin.

Purdue -5 TO Margin in Upset Loss to Nevada

It’s tough to win when giving the ball away and the teams with a turnover margin of -3 or more combined for a Win / Loss record of 2 -8. The only two teams to win in spite of TO Margin were Hawaii -4 & Florida -3.

Other Charitable (Turnover Margin) Teams from week 1: Virginia Tech -4, Hawaii -4, Colorado State -4

FINISH! Win the 4th Qtr: Georgia State & Nevada 17 Points in the 4th Qtr

All offseason during condition drills you will hear coaches scream FINISH! Winning the 4th quarter is not only a sign of superior conditioning but superior coaching adjustments as well. A few teams really took this to heart during week1 but none more than Georgia State & Nevada! Honestly, I was hoping to avoid having to write about Tennessee’s epic loss on Saturday as so many others have done so, and I don't like to pile on but you can’t ignore what GSU did in Knoxville.

GSU uses Panther Power to Score 17 in the 4th

While GSU appeared to control the game throughout, it was a different story for Nevada who trailed 31-17 heading into the 4thquarter before outscoring Purdue 17-0! Now that’s what it means to finish.

Other big 4th Qtr Finishers: North Carolina 14 points to upset South Carolina, Kentucky 14 points to pull away from Toledo (and Cover, thankfully) & Auburn 14 points for a comeback and cover against Oregon on Saturday night.

It’s their job to Stop Us: Maryland & Penn State score 79 Points each

I remember the ole ball coach Steve Spurrier saying “If they don’t like us scoring, it’s their job to stop us” as he rolled up points against his opponents while he was with the Florida Gators. A few coaches summoned their inner Spurrier week1, but none more than James Franklin & Mike Locksley who both rolled up 79 points in victories against Idaho & Howard, The two combined for a score of 158 to 7. Both teams will have tougher challenges this weekend, especially Maryland who takes on Syracuse at home. It will be interesting to see if this offensive explosion is a new trend in the big 10 or just a result of weak opponents.

Other teams doing their best U.S. Woman’s World Cup team against Thailand impersonations can be seen below

Teams who scored more than 55 Points Week 1

3rd Down Dominance: Boise State holds FSU to 1 of 12 on 3rd Down

As a former football coach, I can usually look at a few stats and without knowing the score, I can usually tell you who won the game. One of those stats is 3rd Down Conversion %. Getting off the field on 3rd down is critical to winning football which is why coaches spend a majority of practice time devoted to both 3rd Down offense & Defense. Boise State pulled off magical comeback in Tallahassee on Saturday and while much has been made of FSU’s hydration issues, you need not look any further than Boise holding FSU to 1 for 12 and 8.3% conversion rate on 3rd Downs. Boise was able to make the critical stops and get the ball back into the hands of freshman phenom Hank Bachmeier who used those extra possessions to throw for 407 yards.

Boise State prevails over Florida State thanks to 3rd Down Defense

3rd Down Dominance Runner up: Memphis held Ole Miss to 1 of 10 (10%) on 3rd Down en route to vitory

Rolling the dice on 4th Down

Speaking of Memphis (see above), they were the riverboat gamblers of week 1 by converting on 3 of 5 (60%) 4th Down conversions in a big win against Ole Miss at the Liberty Bowl.

Other notable 4th Down gamblers included Wake Forest 2 of 5 and Florida with an impressive 4 of 4 on 4thDown in their week 0 win against Miami.

The Mike Leach "Air Raid" Award of the week Goes To

WASU Coach Mike Leach

Who else but Mike Leach himself and his Washington State Cougars who tied for a week 1 high of 507 yards passing along with 6 TD’s. Seems like no matter who Leach has at QB, he will put up stellar numbers through the air. All in all, week1 had 9 teams(shown below) who threw the ball for 400 yards or more.

Week 1 Bad Boys of College Football

Michigan State & Miami (trying re-create the U of the 1980’s) get the distinction of the two most penalized teams in college football this week. In their blowout win over Tulsa, Michigan State committed 14 penalties for 122 yards, while Miami had 14 penalties for 118 in their loss to Florida.

Other teams doing their best Oakland Raider impressions week 1 were: UT San Antonio with 13 penalties for 145 yards & Tulane with 12 for 105. Im sure there were extra Up/Downs or gassers happening after practice for each of the teams mentioned above.

And Finally, our Misleading Stat Line of the Week

Air Force QB Isaiah Sanders: QBR 100.00, Passer Rating of 444.4 & 41.0 yards per attempt

Air Force QB Isaiah Sanders

Ok well he only attempted 1 Pass & was 1 for 1 for 41 yards! Let this be a lesson to you, always get the full story before jumping to conclusions. As a data scientist / football coach, I always look for additional data to confirm if what I’m seeing is real. Although I am a stat junkie and wholeheartedly believe in analytics, they can be dangerous in the wrong hands. So hopefully you checked the full stat sheet before trading for Isaiah to be your QB in NCAA Fantasy Football.

Well, Hope you enjoyed this week 1 recap. I try to give you something a bit different than all the others by shining a spotlight on some of the strange & spectacular stat lines across the college football landscape. Remember its only week 1 , so we need a few more weeks before can confirm any real trends moving forward but either way, there is plenty that coaches can be proud of or need to work on in the weeks to come.

As always feel free to reach out anytime by email & join our mailing list for more analysis and insight. I am also available for guest blogs, podcasts , Radio & TV spots.

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