First and 10 - October 22, 2012
1. What stat best correlates with winning? The answer is clearly turnover margin. The top 12 teams in turnover margin hold a combined record of 72-4. Eight of college football's 11 undefeated teams are among that group, while the two undefeateds executing tight rope walks every week to remain unbeaten, Louisville and Ohio State, rank 38th and 52nd. Of the top 43 teams in turnover margin, only four carry losing records. On the flip side of this statistic, just six of college football's bottom 40 turnover margins have managed to produce winning records. We'd like to give a special congratulations to Nebraska and Maryland, who are a combined 9-5 despite producing 1.29 more giveaways than takeaways every week.
2. Pac-12 teams need to appeal to the conference schedule maker to get Oregon after Week 8. With the win over Arizona State on Thursday, Oregon improved to 27-0 under four years under Chip Kelly in Week 2 through Week 8.
3. Congratulations to David Cutcliffe and Duke. For the first time since 1994, Duke is going bowling. The Blue Devils didn't make it easy; after building a 20-6 lead, Duke needed a five-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds to play to hold on for a 33-30 win over North Carolina. There are bigger things ahead for Cutcliffe's team than simply playing in a bowl game because at 3-1 the Blue Devils are alone in first place of the ACC Atlantic Division. Duke will likely need to upset either Florida State or Clemson, take care of Georgia Tech and then beat Miami in the regular-season finale to appear in the ACC Championship.
4. And then there were two. We try to stay as neutral as possible here at FootballScoop, but one thing we definitely root for every fall is for every team to get at least one win. Eastern Michigan won its first game of the season on Saturday, 48-38 over Army. That leaves only Southern Miss and Massachusetts, in the transition phase from FCS to FBS, without victories this season.
5. What stat best quantifies the amount of offense the Big 12 produced on Saturday? Six of the Big 12's 10 teams topped 50 points. Four teams topped 450 yards and two gained more than 600 yards. But the best stat is this:
The Big 12 featured more touchdowns (48) than punts (47) on Saturday.— Anthony Andro (@aandro) October 22, 2012
6. This note, courtesy of ESPN's Ivan Maisel, is astounding. Division III Mount Union (OH) has tied the NCAA record for consecutive shutouts with their sixth consecutive blanking. Plymouth State (N.H.) set the record in 1982, and Mount Union tied the mark in 2007. With one more shutout, this year's Mount Union team can tie its 2007 single-season record of seven total shutouts. The Purple Raiders defeated Otterbein (IN) 51-0 on Saturday. With seven points allowed all season, Larry Kehres' team is within range of breaking Millsaps' (MS) single-season scoring defense mark with just 31 points allowed in nine games.
In addition to scoring defense, Mount Union also leads Division III in rushing defense (30.7 yards per game, .99 per carry), passing defense (88.1 yards per game, 3.51 per attempt), total defense (118.9 yards per game), pass efficiency defense (one touchdown, 10 interceptions, 60.3 rating), first downs defense (7.71 per game), third down defense (18-for-107) and red zone defense (zero points in four trips). Oh yeah, Mount Union also leads Division III in scoring offense at over 55 points per game.
7. Party like it's 1999. With a win over Alabama on Saturday, Mississippi State will take the lead in the SEC West standings in November for the first time since 1999. If the Bulldogs find a way to beat the Crimson Tide, Dan Mullen's team will hope to write a different ending than the 1999 MSU team, which started 5-0 in league play and rose to No. 8 in the polls before dropping two straight games. 1999 also marks the last time Mississippi State finished with a winning record in SEC play.
8. Florida can clinch the SEC East win a win on Saturday. With more than a month still left in the regular season, Florida fans can make plans for Atlanta if Will Muschamp's team finds a way to beat Georgia for the 12th time in 15 years on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS). The Gators close SEC play at home versus Missouri before hosting Louisiana - Lafayette and Jacksonville State and wrapping up the regular season at Florida State on Nov. 24.
9. Wisconsin needs just a win over Indiana on Nov. 10 to return to the Big Ten title game. After a shaky start that inclduded dismissing its offensive line coach, Bret Bielema's team has quietly had a very good October. This month the Badgers have beaten Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota by a combined score of 107-41 to run their record to 6-2 and 3-1 in Big Ten play. With Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for the Leaders Division championship, Wisconsin's only competition for the division crown, Purdue, Illinois and Indiana, are a combined 0-9 in the Big Ten. A win over the Hoosiers on Nov. 10 clinches a second consecutive trip to Indianapolis for Bielema and co. The Badgers face Michigan State on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2) before an off week on Nov. 3.
10. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gene Chizik and his family today. Chizik's mother, Rita, passed away Monday morning.
HS quarterback tops current rushing total of 10 FBS teams...in one game
Tanner Wood, a Kansas high school quarterback at Conway Springs high school, rewrote the state record books this past Friday, carrying the ball 36 times for 659 yards and accounting for 9 total touchdowns in a 84-56 win over Chaparral (KS).
The new state rushing record crushed the previous record of 488 yards set back in 1998.
While the final score makes it look like a blowout, the Wichita Eagle reports that the game was tied at 48 midway through the third quarter before Conway Springs ran away with it, scoring the next 36 points in a quarter and a half.
What makes the accomplishment even more impressive is that the quarterback, Tanner Wood, plays both ways, starting at linebacker on the defensive side of the ball, and still had over 300 yards of total offense at halftime. And by the way, he's verbally committed to Kansas State.
To put this all in perspective, the 659 yards in one game is more than ten FBS teams have rushed for all season. Boston College, Oregon State, New Mexico State, Hawaii, Maryland, Idaho, Miami (OH), UAB, Washington State and Tulane all have less than 652 yards rushing as a team through at least six games this season.
Also, Tulane has accounted for a total of nine touchdowns (Wood's total touchdowns in the game) through seven games.
D-III school ends decade long losing streak
D-III Manchester University (4-4, 4-2) traveled down to Cincinnati on Saturday to take on a Mount St. Joe (3-4, 2-4) team that they hadn't beaten in 10 years.
Manchester, who opened the season with four straight losses (including a two point loss to Rose-Hulman and a quadruple OT loss to Kalamazoo), came into the game on a three game HCAC conference win streak (against Bluffton, Defiance and Earlham).
The Spartans defense held Mount St. Joe to 325 yards of total offense in the victory and the offense put together two scoring drives of over 70 yards against the conference's stingiest scoring defense to come out with a 17-14 win.
Perhaps most impressively, Manchester came into the game allowing 175 yards passing (#3 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference), and held the Lions to just five completions for a grand total of 16 passing yards.
Head coach Shannon Griffith (who is in his ninth season as the head coach at Manchester) and his staff obviously put together a solid game plan on both sides of the ball, and were able to get a quality conference win under their belt as they look to finish up strong against conference opponents Hanover (5-2, 5-0), and Anderson (0-7, 0-5).
Craig Fitzgerald: "We're still getting strong, we're still greedy"
In post game interviews, we've heard numerous players credit Penn State strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald and his staff with their success through the midway point of the season, and in the fourth quarter in particular. Against Northwestern a few weekends ago, the Nittany Lions put together a 22 point fourth quarter, and the defense shut out the Wildcats in the final quarter, to survive with a 39-28 win.
Players say that they feel healthier, stronger, and fresher than they ever had through this point in previous seasons. Fitzgerald's in season plan calls for working a lot of the smaller muscle groups, and doing balance work, while still focusing on adding strength.
"We're still getting strong, we're still greedy." he notes in the clip, which highlights the work that him and director of training services Tim Bream put in.
At about the two minute mark of the clip, Bream demonstrates a pretty sweet NASA inspired anti-gravity treadmill and how they utilize it to get injured players back on their feet.
Long: "The chart had nothing to do with it, I felt like going for it"
When asked about lining up for the two point conversion and the win against Nevada in overtime on Saturday, San Diego State head coach Rocky Long could only shrug his shoulders and smile, saying "I just felt like going for it."
After the game, Long assured reporters that while his decision to go for two in order to get within three points during the third quarter was aided by the chart that many coordinators and head coaches keep on their play call sheets to advise them of whether to kick it or go for two, the overtime decision was all about a gut feeling.
"The chart had nothing to do with that. It was a gut feeling." Long added.
The conversion improved San Diego State to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in Mountain West play, and earned Long our "Call of the Week."
Monday TV - Detroit at Chicago
Lions at the Bears tonight, and tomorrow we'll have some Sun Belt Tuesday night action.
Eastern time listed.
Detroit at Chicago - 8:30 - ESPN
No games tonight
Idaho dismisses Robb Akey as head coach
As first reported in The Scoop this afternoon and announced officially by the school this afternoon, Idaho has terminated the contract of head coach Robb Akey.
“The President (Duane Nellis) and I believe it is important to make this move now so we can immediately begin the process of hiring a new coach for the 2013 season,” Idaho athletic director Rob Spear said in a statement. “We appreciate Coach Akey’s enthusiasm and dedication to the University of Idaho but this is the right move at this time.”
In his sixth season as head coach of the Vandals, Akey carried a 20-50 record. Idaho was beaten by Louisiana Tech 70-28 on Saturday night, dropping its record to 1-7 on the season. Akey's tenure reached a high point in 2009 as he lead Idaho to an 8-5 record and win in the Humanitarian Bowl. The program slipped steadily following that season as Idaho went 6-7 in 2010 and 2-10 last seson.
Idaho's new head coach steps into a unique and challenging situation. Idaho and New Mexico State were left without a conference home after the WAC dropped football due to the sweeping changes of conference realignment. The Vandals will compete as an FBS independent in 2013; its recently announced schedule includes home dates with Northern Illinois, Temple, Fresno State, New Mexico State and Old Dominion with visits to North Texas, Wyoming, Washington State, Arkansas State, Ole Miss, New Mexico State in a home-and-home agreement and a to-be-determined BCS opponent.
It all adds up to a tough task for a new head coach that inherits a team currently ranked 101st or lower in 12 of the 17 official statistics tracked by the NCAA.
In the meantime, offensive coordinator Jason Gesser will serve as the interim head coach. Gesser played quarterback for Akey at Washington State a decade ago before a brief stint in professional football. In just his second year of coaching at the college level, Gesser was brought in from Eastside High School (WA) to serve as running backs coach in 2011 before being promoted to offensive coordinator this season.
Coaches of the Week - Week 8
Head Coach of the Week - Bill Snyder, Kansas State: What else can be said about the man that has twice led Kansas State into national prominence? How about this:
Bill Snyder fact: in the 96 years of K-State FB he didn't coach, 3 wins/season. 21 years he has coached (incl this one), avg 8 wins/season.— Carter Blackburn (@carterespn) October 21, 2012
In leading Kansas State to its third road victory over a ranked team this season, Kansas State cemented itself as a true contender for the school's first national championship after a 55-14 demolition of West Virginia. 'Cats quarterback Collin Klein accounted for seven touchdowns against just two incompletions, while the Kansas State defense forced WVU quarterback Geno Smith into his first interception in 273 attempts, and then picked him off again six throws later. Snyder's team held West Virginia to season-lows of 243 yards of total offense and 3.9 yards per play. In fact, each team ran 62 plays but Kansas State accounted for nearly twice as many yards and held the ball for almost seven minutes longer than West Virginia.
Offensive Staff of the Week - Louisiana Tech: Plenty of other offenses faced stiffer competition on Saturday, but Louisiana Tech's offense was so productive that we couldn't ignore the Bulldogs in good consience. In garnering 56 points and 582 yards in the first half, Louisiana Tech produced in two quarters what many teams consider a good two weeks. The Bulldogs set a school record with 70 points, a total that Sonny Dykes' team reached with 19 minutes still to play. Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin's group became the first FBS team to top 400 yards on the ground and through the air this season. In 95 snaps, Louisiana Tech gained 839 yards (a school record and the most by an FBS team this season) while achieving 8.8 yards per play and 39 first downs. Louisiana Tech has topped 40 games in every game this season and been held under 50 just once through seven games. Louisiana Tech sports information director Patrick Walsh summed up the night perfectly in our Tweet of the Day:
Next year's media guide will not have an offensive record book, just the 2012 season stats listed twice.— Patrick Walsh (@LATechPWalsh) October 21, 2012
Defensive Staff of the Week - Oregon: In the Thursday night spotlight at Arizona State, Chip Kelly's team demonstrated to the nation it was much more than a fast offense and flashy uniforms. Nick Aliotti's unit surrendered a Sun Devils touchdown on their first play and did not allow another point until the game was well out of reach. Arizona State's next 12 possessions produced a total of 221 yards with seven punts, two interceptions, a turnover on downs and missed field goal mixed in. The Sun Devils' 14 offensive points were a season low and their 408 yards were their second-fewest to date. In all, Oregon intecepted four passes, collected five sacks and held Arizona State scoreless in three red zone trips. After Thursday's performance, Oregon leads the country in red zone defense with only 15 scores allowed in 29 trips.
Special Teams Unit of the Week - TCU: Despite a disappointing ending for Gary Patterson's team in triple-overtime loss to Texas Tech, special teams coordinator Gary Sharp's unit played winning football on Saturday. Frogs kicker Jaden Oberkrom nailed all six of his field goal tries and converted 5-of-5 extra points. Wide receiver Skye Dawson was a difference maker for TCU in the return game as he brought back five punts for a total of 61 yards, including a 22-yard return to the Texas Tech 31 that ultimately gave TCU a 17-7 lead. Ethan Perry booted three punts for a net average of 45 yards, two of which pinned the Red Raiders inside the 20. Equally important for Sharp's unit, TCU nullified Texas Tech's return game by not allowing a punt return on the day and limiting Texas Tech to a sum of two kickoff returns that totaled just 15 and 11 yards.
Call of the Week - Todd Berry (ULM) and Rocky Long (San Diego State): For any head coaches that may be reading this, a sure-fire way to win our Call of the Week is to successfully go for two and the win in overtime. Todd Berry and Rocky Long share our award this week because both head coaches did just that on Saturday night.
First, Berry's team fought back from a 28-7 deficit to force overtime against Western Kentucky. After WKU scored to open overtime, ULM quarterback Kolton Browning ran in from three yards out to bring the Warhawks within one and then hit Rashon Ceasar in the end zone for the game-winning conversion. It was the second such win this season for Berry's team as ULM famously toppled then-No. 8 Arkansas in similar fashion on Sept. 8.
Rocky Long's team also rode a wave of momentum into overtime after the Aztecs fough back from a 31-21 hole with 10 points in the game's final 3:45 to force an extra frame. San Diego State quarterback Adam Dingwell went a perfect 3-for-3 in overtime as hit a pass for four yards on first down, then a 21-yard touchdown strike that set up his game-winning two-point conversion to Rob Andrews.
Both wins are crucial for each head coach. ULM became the first team not named LSU or Alabama to defeat Western Kentucky in the Hilltoppers' last 15 games, allowing Berry's squad to stand alone in first place in the Sun Belt. Long's team has now won three straight Mountain West games to pull into a four-way tie for second place in the MWC. Both teams need one more victory to achieve bowl eligibility.