Week 1, Statistically Speaking

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A statistical snapshot of the week that was in college football…

.845Urban Meyer‘s winning percentage, the best among active coaches with at least 10 years of head coaching experience.  Bob Stoops and Nick Saban are next at .792 and .749, respectively.

1 — Games in Week 1 that pitted ranked opponents (No. 20 Wisconsin vs. No. 3 Alabama).

3 — Sacks for Michigan State’s Riley Bullough in his first career start at middle linebacker in Michigan State’s win over Western Michigan.

4 — Touchdown passes for Everett Golson in his Florida State debut, a 59-16 win over Texas State.  Golson also threw for 302 yards.

4 — 10-win seasons for Michigan State under Mark Dantonio.  Prior to Dantonio’s arrival, the program had two 10-win seasons in its history.

6 — Different teams that have won the Big 12 the last six seasons (Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and TCU). No other Power Five conference has had as many different champions in that six-year span.

8 — Road games for Louisiana-Monroe this season, the only FBS team that can make that claim.  Those eight games will lead to ULM traveling 17,224 round-trip miles.

10.48 — Yards per play averaged by Baylor in its 56-21 win over SMU, setting a school record in the process.  The Bears rolled up 723 yards of total offense.

11 — Knee surgeries for Bobby Swigert since 2012.   In his first game in three years, the Boston College wide receiver caught two passes for 16 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown.

11.5 — Yards per carry averaged by North Carolina’s Elijah Hood in rushing for a career-high 138 yards in South Carolina’s 17-13 win.

11.6 — Wins per season for Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, the most of any active head coach with at least five years experience.  The only others currently averaging in double digits are Washington’s Chris Petersen (11.1), Ohio State’s Urban Meyer (10.9) and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops (10.5).

13 — Consecutive weeks Colorado and Hawaii will play without the benefit of a bye this season, the only FBS teams that can make that claim.  Arizona, FIU, UMass and North Texas will all play 12 straight weeks to open the year.

14 — Consecutive road wins for Ohio State, the longest amongst FBS teams.  OSU’s last road defeat came on Nov. 26, 2011 at Michigan.  The Buckeyes will begin their defense of their national title on the road in Blacksburg Labor Day night.

16.78 — Miles Georgia Tech has run for since Paul Johnson took over the Yellow Jackets in 2008.  That equates to 29,536 yards, the most of any FBS team in that span.

20 — Returning starters for Ohio, the most of any FBS program.  Tennessee, UCLA and Vanderbilt, with 18 apiece, pace all Power Five teams.

23 — Yards per carry true freshman Marcus Marshall averaged in rushing for 184 yards in Georgia Tech’s Thursday win over Alcorn State.

26 — Career wins for Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, the most of any active FBS quarterback.  Miller likely won’t add to that total this season, though, as he moved to H-back in the offseason.

41 — Consecutive games in which Arizona State’s D.J. Foster has caught at least one pass, the longest such streak in the country.  Foster is also coming off a season in which he was the only FBS player to rush for at least 1,000 yards and catch at least 600 yards worth of passes.

76 — Points scored by Ole Miss, the most the Rebels have scored in a single game since a 1935 win over West Tennessee Teachers College.

88 — Times Wake Forest’s Alex Kinal has punted without a touchback.  Kinal’s last punt that sailed into the end zone came in November of 2013.

95 — Consecutive games Stanford had scored at least 10 points, the longest such streak in the country, prior to its 16-6 upset loss to Northwestern.

152 — Yards rushing for Oregon State quarterback Seth Collins in a 26-7 win over Weber State, averaging 8.9 yards per carry.

134 — Seasons Navy spent as a football independent before playing its first game Saturday afternoon as a member of the AAC.

184 — Players on Navy’s roster, easily outdistancing No. 2 Army’s 145.  Nebraska carries the biggest Power Five roster at 136.

223 — Rushing yards for Ray Lawry in Old Dominion’s win over Eastern Michigan.

233 — Return yards for Maryland’s Will Likely, setting the Big Ten record in that category.  The previous mark was 201 by Iowa’s Nile Kinnick way back in 1939.

322 — Passing yards for Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes against Stephen F. Austin… in the first half alone.  The Red Raiders quarterback finished the game with 425 yards and 473 yards of total offense as he added 48 on the ground.

323 — Passing yards for Wake Forest’s John Wolford in the win over Elon Thursday.  It was the first 300-yard game of his career, and bested his previous high of 291 yards set last September.

399 — Passing yards for Al Cobb in VMI’s loss to Ball State.  His previous career-high was 396, set in the 2014 regular-season finale.

424 — Career-high passing yards for Matt Johnson in Bowling Green’s loss to Tennessee.

659 — Yards of total offense Southern Illinois put up against Indiana in a 48-47 loss.  It was the program’s most yards against an FBS team since 1970.

1,302 — Games Rutgers has played in its history, the most of any FBS program.  Penn, with 1,353, holds the all-time NCAA record.

1944 — The last season a true freshman started an opener at left tackle for Clemson prior to Mitch Hyatt lining up Saturday and protecting his quarterback’s blind side.  The last to do it was Phil Prince, who went on to become the university’s president.

1967 — Up until this season, the last year Michigan played host to both Michigan State and Ohio State.

2010 — Last year Arkansas State started a season with same head coach as the year prior until 2015. Blake Anderson is in his second season at ASU; his predecessors, Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss, 2011), Gus Malzahn (Auburn, 2012) and Bryan Harsin (Boise State, 2013) spent one season each with the Red Wolves.

3,473 — Undergraduate students enrolled at Tulsa, the smallest of any FBS program.

40,122 — Total miles Hawaii will travel for its six 2015 road games. UH will be the only FBS program to play games in five separate time zones, traveling to Ohio State (Eastern), Wisconsin (Central), Boise State (Mountain), New Mexico (Mountain), Nevada (Pacific) and UNLV (Pacific).

WATCH: Ole Miss Baker Mayfields its flag on Mississippi State’s field

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Talk about adding insult to injury.

Heading into Week 13, three-loss Mississippi State, ranked 14th in the latest College Football Playoff rankings for whatever reason, was a 16-point favorite over Egg Bowl rival Ole Miss for Thursday night’s game in Starkville.  The loss of starting quarterback Nick Fitzgerald to a gruesome first-half injury all but sealed the Bulldogs’ fate; A.J. Brown‘s all-game production proved to be the dagger in sealing that fate, putting an exclamation point on the Rebels’ third win in the in-state rivalry the last four years.

As to how it all ties in to the lede?  The visiting Rebels decided to go all Baker Mayfield on Stark Vegas’ midfield after the win…

… not long after the same player who planted the flag hiked his leg like a dog, feigning urinating on the Davis Wade Stadium field.

There could very well be two different coaches in charge when the next Egg Bowl rolls around, but this will always be, regardless of who is on the sidelines, one of the most vitriolic rivalries in all of college sports.  Or sports, period.

A.J. Brown powers Ole Miss to Egg Bowl win over No. 15 Mississippi State

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No. 14 Mississippi State lost their quarterback, lost the game, lost the Egg Bowl trophy and lost a year’s worth of rivalry trash talk in one fell swoop on a chilly Thanksgiving evening at home. To add insult to injury, they lost all that at the hands of a Starkville native to boot as star receiver A.J. Brown powered Ole Miss to their sweetest victory of the year over their in-state rivals 31-28.

The Rebels needed just three plays and 39 seconds to open the scoring in what was perhaps the team’s best all-around game in several weeks, showing no signs of any tryptophan-induced sluggishness following a traditional turkey day meal. Brown finished the game with 167 yards receiving and a 77 yard touchdown to cap off a terrific return to his hometown in opposing colors, while tailback Jordan Wilkins also chipped in with another 110 yards and two scores on the ground to pace the offense.

The old Landshark defense also made an appearance, with the second worst team in all of FBS when it came to forcing turnovers managing to secure a whopping five turnovers and three sacks.

While the loss was undoubtedly disappointing for the Bulldogs, most of the team’s attention was on their star quarterback, Nick Fitzgerald. He entered the game on the verge of another 2,000 yard passing/1,000 yard rushing season but was tackled awkwardly on a three yard run early in the first quarter. Replays showed his ankle to be facing a much different direction than it should as part of a gruesome scene and the signal-caller was carted off to the team’s medical facilities shortly thereafter amid a raucous applause from fans on both sides.

Fitzgerald later returned to the sidelines to cheer on his teammates but it certainly appears that his promising season is over as Mississippi State turns their attention to a bowl game in the coming weeks.

Stepping in at quarterback was freshman Keytaon Thompson, who was much more of a threat with his legs than his arm until a few late drives. He finished the night with 195 yards, a touchdown, an interception and a team-high 121 yards rushing (with another score) in relief. Tailback Aeris Williams managed to rack up 82 yards and a score but faced a stacked line of scrimmage at every turn given the injury to his veteran teammate.

While the injury to Fitzgerald overshadowed the game, the backdrop of Ole Miss’ NCAA infractions case loomed large over the rivalry as much as the game itself. The two schools’ fan bases have been quite chippy and MSU linebacker Leo Lewis — a central figure in the case — was kept in check to the tune of two tackles and a half a sack as the Rebels didn’t attack him like some thought they would.

Perhaps more pressing to some Bulldogs fans is if that was the last Egg Bowl they would see with head coach Dan Mullen patrolling the sidelines. His name has been linked to openings at Florida, Tennessee, Nebraska and others in the past few weeks and there is a growing expectation that the most successful coach in school history could have just donned the maroon and white for the final time in a loss.

That’s of no concern across the way as interim coach Matt Luke did a good job rallying the team to their sixth win of the season. The Rebels are not bowl eligible as part of self-imposed sanctions but the satisfaction of beating their rivals probably takes the sting out of that fact just a little bit, especially with a Starkville native like Brown leading the way on Thursday night.

Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald suffers gruesome ankle injury to spoil first half of the Egg Bowl

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The Egg Bowl has returned to Thanksgiving but the game hasn’t gone quite as planned for No. 14 Mississippi State, as they trail Ole Miss 10-6 after a low-scoring first half of play thanks to a shocking injury that brought both sides of the heated rivalry to their feet in unison.

That came early in the first quarter when Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald was tackled after a three-yard run, suffering a gruesome ankle injury in the process that saw his foot point in a direction it certainly wasn’t supposed to. He was put in an air cast and carted off the field to perform x-rays immediately afterward and needless to say will not return to the game.

The productive signal-caller was just 1-of-5 passing with an interception and 16 yards rushing when he went down with the injury. Fitzgerald was approaching the 2,000 yard passing and 1,000 yard rushing marks for the season heading into the game and received plenty of support from his fellow football players around the SEC and beyond after suffering such a horrific-looking injury that appears to knock him out for the rest of 2017.

Freshman Keytaon Thompson replaced Fitzgerald behind center and went 3-of-5 passing for 32 yards and an interception. He’s known for his running ability at this stage and did manage a team-high 65 yards on the ground, including a 32 yard scamper. Running back Aeris Williams was fairly limited facing a stacked box against a new quarterback and ran for 41 yards in the half as turnovers (three of them) really hampered MSU in the half.

With Ole Miss ineligible for postseason play even if they won on Thursday night, it was not at all surprising to see the Rebels play better than they have in a long time. The team needed just three plays and 39 seconds on their opening possession to find the end zone and were punching far above their weight defensively too. Wide receiver A.J. Brown was the big play threat once again for the offense, with five catches and 90 yards after just a half of play. In the process, he set a new school single-season record for receiving yards and joined kicker Greg Wunderlich (all-time school leader in FG’s) in the record books for the visitors as they look to  get a little bit of payback for last year’s 55-20 loss in Oxford.

The two programs have split the last six meetings in the hotly contested Egg Bowl rivalry and both appear locked into another close one after a half of play. It’s too bad that an injury to an all-SEC player had to spoil things early on but both the Bulldogs and the Rebels will have to put that behind them as they emerge from the locker room hoping to secure a win after years worth of bad blood.

Odell Beckham Jr. gifts LSU players recently unveiled custom shoes ahead of regular season finale

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LSU has produced plenty of NFL stars in recent years but few identify with the Tigers quite like New York Giants wideout Odell Beckham Jr. does. The Baton Rouge native recently released his first “lifestyle” shoe with Nike last week and has been hitting the press circuit almost as hard as the rehab room as a result to showcase the new kicks.

Not one to forget where he went to school and blossomed into a first round pick, Beckham filmed a video for LSU’s football team this week and really gave the Tigers something to be thankful for on Thanksgiving by giving every player on the team a version of the shoe to wear when they’re suiting up in cleats.

The color isn’t quite a true match for LSU gold but it’s certainly pretty close and even comes with the longitude and latitude of Baton Rouge inscribed. You can probably bet that the team will be wearing them to Tiger Stadium prior to taking on Texas A&M on Saturday in the regular season finale for both sides.