Earning his money
Defensively, the Michigan Wolverines (7-1 overall) have allowed opponents to score on just 15 of 25 trips to the red zone through 8 games. The 60% mark is the best in the country. 25 attempts in 8 games, thus they are allowing an average of 3.1 trips into the red zone per game.
Last season the Wolverine defense allowed 57 trips to the red zone, and opponents put points on the board on 49 of those trips, that's 86% of the time. 57 trips in 12 games last season, thus they were allowing 4.75 trips per game last season.
So, not only have they improved in red zone percentage 86% down to 60%, which is impressive, they also are allowing 1.5 less trips into the red zone per game this season.
Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison deserves some man love from Brady Hoke and all of the dollars they wisely decided to invest in him.
Great stat; but we're calling the breakout
Dave Revsine of the Big Ten Network came out with some interesting stats today related to Big Ten teams. One related to Minnesota struck us as newsworthy.
The last time the Golden Gophers broke a run for more than 40 yards was in 2008, 1,355 carries ago to be exact (easily the longest drought in the country).
The next closest team is Michigan State with 530 carries without hitting the 40 yard mark.
Coincidentally, Minnesota and Michigan State meet this weekend in East Lansing at noon on the Big Ten Network. You heard it here first, we're calling breakout runs by both teams.
One other nugget from Revsine, Michigan State has put up an average of 36 points this season when playing at home...yet only 8 points per game on the road. That's a head scratcher (or good defenses you're playing...Notre Dame, Ohio State and Nebraska in this case).
Post game Update> Unfortunately, it appears that both coaching staffs thought we were calling for breakout pass plays not running plays (each team had a reception of over 60 yards in the game). The long rush for Michigan State was 35 yards and for Minnesota it was 19. There's always next week...
A first for Joe Pa (hard to believe)
Saturday's game between Illinois and Penn State marked a career first for Joe Paterno.
In Paterno's 285 home games, he has never taken the Nittany Lions into the half tied at 0. 46 years at the school...and he's never went into the half with a scoreless tie.
It's hard to believe that after all of Paterno's years at Penn State there is still uncharted territory to conquer.
The Nittany Lions have a bye week this week before taking on Nebraska next weekend in Happy Valley.
As a small reminder, Joe Pa's squad is 8-1.
Rich Rod injects some humor
Yes, we're all tired of hearing about conference realignment.
But hearing Rich Rod weigh in on the West Virginia exit from the Big East is simply too fun to pass up.
Young coordinators performing well in Texas
Two of the youngest coordinators in the FBS meet this weekend in Texas when UT takes on Texas Tech.
Manny Diaz was hired in January at age 37 to replace Will Muschamp as the leader of Texas' defense. Under Diaz, the Longhorns rank in the top 25 in 4 major defensive categories including rush defense (19), pass efficiency defense (9), total defense (13), and pass defense (9). This year's squad has seen significant improvement in both rush defense and in sacks (Diaz likes to bring pressure). Diaz began his coaching career as a Grad Assistant at Florida State working under Mickey Andrews. Diaz then moved to NC State where he coached the linebackers and then moved to defensive backs and special teams. In 2006 Diaz moved to Middle Tennessee as the defensive coordinator where he served until Dan Mullen made him the youngest coordinator in the SEC in 2010 at Mississippi State.
Make no bones about it, Diaz currently has an incredible job and we know he and his wife are incredibly happy at Texas. However, we're already beginning to hear his name being mentioned for potential head coaching openings. With Muschamp it seemed like it took about 4 years from when we first began hearing his name "in the mix" until it happened at Florida. It will be interesting to see if history repeats itself with Diaz.
On the opposite side of the field...
One of the youngest offensive coordinator in the FBS, Neal Brown (31) has had the playcalling duties at Texas Tech since the 2010 season. In his first year directing the offense for the Red Raiders, Brown ranked in the top 4 in the Big 12 in total offense and yards per game while also increasing the production on the ground by 57 yards per game. This season Brown has the offense ranked in the top 15 offenses in the country in passing offense (5), total offense (8) and scoring offense (14). Brown played under Hal Mumme (Mike Leach, Chris Hatcher and Tony Franklin were all on that staff), and coached with Franklin at Troy and then became offensive coordinator there when Franklin left. At Troy, Brown's offense put up prolific numbers and he developed into a very efficient play caller (his playbook is one of the smallest in FBS...but they produce). Tubs hired him in 2010 and the Texas Tech offense hasn't missed a beat.
While both of these guys are young, nobody is questioning their talent, teaching or coaching ability. Definitely two guys to keep you eyes on in the future.
Texas Tech will play Texas Saturday at noon on FX.
UAB loses big in not getting approval for new stadium
UAB is having a tough season. They started 0-6 and are currently 1-7. They are currently 116th in scoring offense and 112th in scoring defense.
But, as hard as this might be to believe, they might have suffered their most important loss yesterday, off the field.
For years UAB has been working to get approval from both the community and more importantly from the Alabama System Board of Trustees to build a new stadium (and all the amenities) on campus. They got the community buy in, selling out all 27 of the planned luxury suites; but yesterday failed in their attempt to sway the Board of Trustees.
Steve Irvine of the Birmingham News wrote an article outlining UAB's request to build an on campus , 30,000 seat, football stadium. The Blazers currently play their home games off campus at Legion Field.
The Alabama System board of Trustees (which sits in Tuscaloosa and also oversees the flagship University of Alabama...yes, where Nick Saban coaches the Tide) turned down the proposal citing lack of fan support and funding for the $75 million proposed project.
The proposal included 27 individual donors or corporations that made a commitment to lease a suite at the stadium for $100,000 over 5 years.
Longtime UAB supporter Luc Frenette said "It's the chicken and the egg, how do we know how good we can be if you don't build the stadium?". A very frustrated Frenette had far more colorful things to say. You can read the full version including Frenette's take on how badly the current facilities impact recruiting and the coaching staff here. It's not a flattering picture.
UAB has only had two winning seasons since moving to the FBS as an independent in 1996 (7-4 in 2000 and 7-5 in 2004). The highest attendance this season was against Mississippi State (just over 28,000) and the attendance for that game ranks #377 of all 531 games played this season.
Losing out on the new stadium is a tough loss for Coach Callaway and the entire UAB program.
Special teams were the difference for TCU
This past Saturday TCU strolled out to a 35-10 lead en route to a 38-28 win over BYU.
TCU scored on the first possession of the game and was leading 14-10 at the end of the first quarter. That's when TCU's defense and special teams went to work. In the 2nd quarter, BYU's drives ended as follows:
Turnover on downs
Net punt of 16 yards
Missed a 50 yard FG at the half
Halftime score was 28-10.
In the game, BYU lined up to punt 4 times, and TCU turned each of those opportunities into seven points within 4 plays.
On their first punt attempt, BYU had a bad snap that led to a loss of over 30 yards, and two plays later TCU put it in the endzone. The second punt was partially blocked and only went 23 yards, which put TCU in great position for another touchdown three plays later. Punt number three went for a net of 16 yards and led to another touchdown two plays later. On the final punt of the night, BYU's punter fumbled the snap, and lost 15 yards...we bet you can guess the end result four plays later.
The BYU miscues account for 28 of TCU's 38 total points. The average length of TCU's 5 TD drives was 37 yards. TCU had a total of 8 other drives in the game. They were forced to punt on 7 of those, including after both BYU interceptions. Truly the special teams were the difference in the game.
About last night
For those of you that didn't get to watch, the Tuesday night MAC game (thank you ESPN) was a great one to watch.
Northern Illinois at Toledo. Both teams came in 5-3. Northern Illinois came into the game allowing an average of 32 points per game. Toledo was allowing 25. Offensively, both teams were averaging scoring just over 35 points per game. For what it's worth, Vegas had the total at 69.
Well, let's just say the Over hit...big.
Final score was Northern Illinois 63 - Toledo 60. Touchdowns came easy, beginning with the opening kickoff which NIU returned for 6 points. Toledo then got the ball, drove and scored. Following kickoff, yep NIU to the house again (same guy). And that's how the night went.
An incredibly entertaining game which went back and forth. Stats are still coming in; but the numbers are going to be gaudy. We'll update shortly.
Stats and other oddities...where to start?
NIU threw for 6 TDs, Toledo for 5. That's the first FBS game this season in which both teams have thrown for at least 5 TDs.
Tonight's final 63-60. Alabama has allowed a total of 55 points all season.
17 total touchdowns scored tonight...that is more than Memphis, Kentucky, UAB, New Mexico, Kent State and FAU have scored this entire season.
Toledo all everything WR Eric Page had 9 catches for 150 yards and 5 TDs.
Each team had a pair of rushers combine for over 200 yards on the ground.
The teams combined for over 1,100 yards of total offense.
There was only one turnover in the game.