Week 9, Statistically Speaking

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0 — Lost fumbles for UNLV in eight games this season, the only FBS team that can make that claim.  At the opposite end of the spectrum is Eastern Michigan, which has lost 14 in 2014.

0 — Games UCF has lost in American Athletic Conference play, vs. 11 wins.  The Knights are the only AAC team to have never lost a game in that conference’s brief history.

2 — Times this season, in seven games, SMU has scored more than six points in a single game, including the 48-10 loss to Memphis.  The winless Mustangs are averaging exactly seven points per game,with a high-water mark of 24 in Week 6.

2-5 — Whatever it means, that’s the record of teams the next game after playing Navy this season.  Rutgers and Temple are the only ones to avoid “The Curse of the Middies” in 2014.

3.07 — Yards per play Maryland averaged in its ugly 52-7 loss to Wisconsin.

4 — 200-yard rushing games for Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah this season; no other back at the FBS level has more than two.  The running back also totaled a school-record 341 all-purpose yards (225 rushing, 26 receiving, 90 on kickoff returns) in NU’s 42-24 win over Rutgers (previous record: 321 for Roy Helu Jr. vs. Missouri in 2010).

4 — Quarterbacks Vanderbilt has started this season, the only school that has had to reach that deep into its depth chart at the position.  Utah State will hit that mark in Week 10 as the Aggies lost their third starter of the year to injury, while SMU could very well reach the same number the same week.

Justin Hardy
Justin Hardy

4.6 — Number of receptions per game East Carolina’s Justin Hardy needs to average over the next five contests to break the FBS record of 349 career receptions set by Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles.  Hardy is averaging 8.7 catches per game in 2014 and 7.6 for his career.

5 — First-quarter lost fumbles by Pittsburgh, tying the one-quarter FBS record set by East Carolina (1980) and San Diego State (1982).  Pitt finished with six lost fumbles — on seven total fumbles — in its 56-28 loss to Georgia Tech.

7 — Games in which Dak Prescott has thrown for 200-plus yards to start the season, the first Mississippi State player to accomplish that feat in the football program’s 115-year history.

10-0 — Stanford’s record under David Shaw coming off a loss.

11.2 — Yards per carry for true freshman Mike Boone as he rushed for a career-high 212 yards in Cincinnati’s 34-17 win over USF Friday night.

13 — Different players who caught passes in TCU’s 82-27 evisceration of Texas Tech.  No player caught more than four passes.

15.6 — Yards per completion Blake Frohnapfel averaged in throwing for 438 yards and five touchdowns in UMass’ 42-35 loss to Toledo.

20-0Jameis Winston‘s record as a starting quarterback at Florida State, the only quarterback in the ACC to ever start a career off with 20 consecutive wins.

33 — Consecutive seasons Nebraska won at least nine games in a season from 1969-2001, an NCAA record.  It’s not really relevant to this weekend’s action, but I just wanted to bring it up as it’s still simply a staggering statistic.

Dominic Rufran
Dominic Rufran

45 — Consecutive games in which Wyoming’s Dominic Rufran has caught at least one pass, the longest such current streak in the country.  The school and Mountain West record is 47 straight by Jovon Bouknight (2002-05), while UNLV’s Casey Flair (2005-08) holds a portion of the conference mark as well. The FBS record is 54 straight by Central Michigan’s Bryan Anderson (2006-09).

46 — Consecutive games in which Kansas State has scored a rushing touchdown, the longest streak in the country.  Navy and Stanford are next at 30 straight.

70 — Yards of total offense for UT-San Antonio in its shutout loss to UTEP.  The Roadrunners averaged just 1.52 yards per play.

85.7 — Percentage of his 21 passes Garrett Grayson completed in throwing for 390 yards and a career-high five touchdowns during Colorado State’s 45-31 Border War win over Wyoming.

93 — From the fourth quarter of the Arkansas game Oct. 11 through the second quarter of the Tennessee game Saturday, the number of consecutive points scored by Alabama while its opponents were scoreless.

94 — Gap in years between games involving Nebraska and Rutgers (1920, at the Polo Grounds in New York and 2014 in Lincoln) is the largest for any opponent in Cornhusker history.

98 — Yards rushing for Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson in the loss to Arizona State, leading the Huskies in that category.

212 — Receiving yards for Western Michigan’s Corey Davis in a 42-21 win over Ohio.

Amari Cooper
Amari Cooper

224 — New Alabama single-game receiving yards mark set by Amari Cooper in the win over Tennessee, breaking the record of 210 set by Julio Jones vs. the Vols in 2010.  With four games left in the regular season, Cooper is now eight receptions and two yards away from breaking Jones’ single-season records of 78 and 1,133. One more: Cooper now ranks second in Tide history for career receiving yards with 2,868 (DJ Hall, with 2,923 from 2004-07, holds the all-time school record).

249 — Career-high rushing yards for Duke Johnson in Miami’s whipping of Virginia Tech Thursday night.  The junior’s previous career-best was 186 in the 2013 opener against FAU.

251 — Most rushing yards for an FBS quarterback this season, by Keenan Reynolds in Navy’s win over San Jose State.

251 — Combined passing yards for South Alabama and Troy in the former’s Friday night win.  Entering Week 9, 48 teams were averaging more than that per game.

272Devon Johnson‘s school-record rushing total in Marshall’s closer-than-it-looked 35-16 win over FAU.  Johnson has now rushed for 100-plus yards in seven of eight games this season.

290 — Combined rushing yards for running back Paul Perkins (180) and quarterback Brett Hundley (110) as UCLA outlasted Colorado in double overtime.  It was the second 100-yard rushing game of Hundley’s career, with the first (161) coming in the Bruins’ bowl game last season.

Fredi Knighten
Fredi Knighten

344 — First career 300-yard passing day during Arkansas State’s Tuesday night win over Louisiana-Lafayette for junior Fredi Knighten.

410 — Career-high passing yards Friday for Boise State’s Grant Hedrick in the 55-30 win over BYU.  His four touchdown passes were one off his career-best effort.

423 — Career-high passing yards for Louisiana Tech’s Cody Sokol in the win over Southern Miss.  It also marked Tech’s first win in Hattiesburg since 1982.

445 — Passing yards for Shane Carden in East Carolina’s closer-than-expected win over UConn Thursday night.  It’s the sixth 400-plus performance of his career, with three of those coming in 2014.  His career-high of 480 yards came in an October overtime loss to Tulane last year; that marks the only loss during one of Carden’s 400-yard games.

471 — Passing yards for Old Dominion’s Taylor Heinicke in a 66-51 loss to Western Kentucky.

616 — Rushing yards for Georgia Southern in its 69-31 waxing of Georgia State.   That’s more rushing yards than eight teams had all season entering Week 8, but still 152 yards behind Oklahoma’s 1988 FBS record in a game against Kansas State.  The Eagles averaged 10.1 yards on its 61 carries.

1,244 — Combined yards of total offense for Old Dominion (643) and Western Kentucky (601) in the latter’s 66-51 win.

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1931 — Last year Georgia Tech had played in the state of Pennsylvania prior to Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh.  The matchup with the Panthers in Week 9 was also the Yellow Jackets’ first in the city of Pittsburgh since 1920.

1933 — Last year South Carolina beat Auburn in football.  That equates to an eight-game losing streak for the Gamecocks, including Saturday night’s loss to the Tigers.

2001 — Last year Trinity (Conn.) College lost a home football game prior to a 27-7 loss to Middlebury (Vt.) Saturday.  The loss snapped a 53-game home winning streak for the Div. III Bantams at Jessee/Miller Field.

2002 — Until 2014, the last year Colorado State won six consecutive games in a single season.

2004 — Prior to the 23-0 loss to Kansas State, the last year Texas was shutout in a game.  After losing to Oklahoma 12-0 Oct. 9 of that year, the Longhorns had scored in 132 straight games before the Week 9 whitewashing.

2010 — Stanford played in a game Saturday unranked for the first time since the opener four years ago.  The Cardinal had been in at least one of the major polls for a school-record 72 straight weeks.

2010 — Last time Utah played a game as a ranked team vs. another ranked team until Saturday’s No. 20 USC Trojans vs. No. 19 Utes matchup.

8,343 — Career passing yards for Bill Musgrave, which was an Oregon record until Marcus Mariota surpassed it in the win over Cal.  Mariota now has 8,625 in his Ducks career thanks to a 326-yard effort in the 59-41 win over Cal Friday night.  It wasn’t all statistical puppy dogs and rainbows for Super Mariota, though, as the junior threw his first interception of the season, breaking a streak of 235 straight attempts without a pick.

(For the latest “The Fifth Quarter: Week 9 Rewind,” click HERE.)

Pac-12 responds to football players threatening opt-outs

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The Pac-12 responded Monday to football players who have threaten to opt-out of the season because of concerns related to health and safety, racial injustice and economic rights with a letter touting the conference’s work in those areas and an invitation to meet later this week.

A letter from Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, dated Aug. 3, was sent to 12 football players leading the #WeAreUnited movement. The letter was obtained by The Associated Press and first reported by Sports Illustrated.

The players say they have been communicating with more than 400 of their peers throughout the Pac-12. The group released a lengthy list of demands Sunday and said if they are not addressed they will not practice or play. The group said it reached out to the Pac-12 on Sunday to request a meeting. In the letter, Scott said he was eager to discuss their concerns.

“I will come back to you in the coming days following discussion with our members and student-athlete leaders to schedule a call for this week to discuss the matters that you have raised,” Scott wrote.

Also Monday night, Washington State coach Nick Rolovich said in a statemen t he regretted cautioning one of his players about being part of the #WeAreUnited movement. A recording of a conversation between Rolovich and receiver Kassidy Woods obtained by the Dallas Morning News revealed the coach seemingly warning the player that being involved with the group would hurt his standing with the team. Woods had called Rolovich to inform him he was opting out of the season for health reasons related to COVID-19.

“I spoke with Kassidy Woods in a private phone conversation last Saturday afternoon. This was before the #WeAreUnited group had released its letter of concerns,” said Rolovich, who is in his first season was Washington State coach. “Without knowing the concerns of the group, I regret that my words cautioning Kassidy have become construed as opposition. I’m proud of our players and all the Pac-12 student-athletes for using their platform, especially for matters they are passionate about. WSU football student-athletes who have expressed support for the #WeAreUnited group will continue to be welcome to all team-related activities, unless they choose to opt out for health and safety reasons.”

The #WeAreUnited players’ demands focused on four areas: health and safety protections, especially protocols related to COVID-19; guarding against the elimination of sports programs by schools during an economic downturn; ending racial injustice in college sports; and economic freedom and equity.

Scott addressed each area, highlighting the conference’s:

— Medical advisory committee working on COVID-19 protocols and webinars for student-athletes and their parents;

— Support for reforming NCAA rules regarding name, image and likeness compensation for college athletes;

— Recent initiatives to address racial inequities such as the formation of a social justice & anti-racism advisory group that includes student-athletes representatives.

Scott also listed 10 areas in which, he wrote, “The Pac-12 has been a leader in supporting student-athlete health and well-being …” Included were enhanced medical coverage post-eligibility; cost-of-attendance stipends added to the value of scholarship; mental health support; and the Pac-12′s support of reforming NCAA transfer rules to allow athletes more freedom to switch schools.

Pac-12 football teams are scheduled to begin preseason practices Aug. 17 and the league’s conference-only regular season is set to start Sept. 26.

Big 12 to allow teams to play 1 non-conference football game

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Two people involved with the decision say the Big 12 will permit its teams to play one nonconference football game this year to go along with their nine league contests as plans for the pandemic-altered season continued to fall into place.

The people spoke Monday night to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the conference was still preparing an official announcement.

The Big 12 university presidents signed off on the conference’s scheduling model, which gives schools the ability to play one nonconference game at home. The conference’s championship game is scheduled for Dec. 5, but one of the people told AP that the conference is leaving open the possibility of bumping it back a week or two.

The 10-team Big 12 already plays a nine-game, round-robin conference schedule. Unlike other Power Five conference that have switched to either exclusively (Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC) or mostly (ACC) league games this season, the Big 12 could not add more conference games without teams playing each other more than once.

Several Big 12 teams have already started preseason practice, with Kansas and Oklahoma slated to play FCS teams on Aug. 29.

As conferences take steps toward a football season that seems to be in precarious shape, the NCAA is expected to weigh in Tuesday on fall sports other than major-college football.

The association’s Board of Governors is scheduled to meet and whether to cancel or postpone NCAA championship events in fall sports such as soccer, volleyball and lower-division football is expected to be a topic.

Only the Pac-12 has a full football schedule with matchups and dates in place among Power Five conferences. The Pac-12 will begin Sept. 26, along with the Southeastern Conference, which is still working on its new 10-game slate.

The Atlantic Coast Conference has opponents set for its 10-game conference schedule and will start the weekend of Sept. 12, but no specific game dates. The ACC has also said it will permit its teams to play one nonconference game.

The Big Ten, first to announce intentions to go conference-only this season, has yet to release a new schedule, but that could come later this week.

Now that the Power Five has declared its intentions the Group of Five conferences can start making plans and filling holes on their schedules.

American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco has said the AAC could stick with its eight-game conference schedule and let its members plays as many of their four nonconference games as they can salvage or replace.

The Mountain West, Conference USA, Mid-American and Sun Belt conferences are likely to take similar approach.

Early Monday, Texas State from the Sun Belt announced it was moving a nonconference game against SMU up from Sept. 5 to Aug. 29.

Good morning and, in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening and good night! CFT, out…

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CFT is no more. At least, when it comes to NBC Sports.

The first of last month, I — this is John Taylor (pictured, catching the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XXIII) — began my 12th year with CFT and NBC Sports. This morning, I was informed that my position was being eliminated and I would not be completing that 12th year. Which, of course, meant I wouldn’t be eligible for the traditional 13th-anniversary gift of lace. Which really bummed me out. Because I really like lace.

The jarring phone call was both a slap in the face and a relief. Jarring because, well, it was completely unexpected. Out of the blue, even amidst the pandemic that is wreaking absolute and utter havoc across the country. A relief, on the other hand, because, every single day for the past four months, I woke up wondering if this would be the day I get that call.

Would this be the day? Would this be the day? A question played on an endless loop that just f***s with you mentally, emotionally, physically.

That’s no way to live.

Then again, being job-less is no way to live, either. But, here we are.

So many people I want to thank. First and foremost, Mike Florio and Larry Mazza. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Especially Mr. Mazza on the food front. Hopefully, lunch at Oliverio’s — best damn stuffed shells I have EVER had — can still be a thing, Larry.

And so many people that have worked for me. Not to single anyone out, but I’m going to single one out in Ben Kercheval. Ben, non-biological son of Hoppy, you were and continue to be the man. I appreciate you more than you know.  Rasheed Wallace may indeed be your biological father, but I will forever consider you my illegitimate Internet stepson.

Mike Miller is the best boss anyone could ever ask for.  Hire that man.  You can thank me later.

Kevin McGuire, Zach Barnett, Bryan Fischer, I will always treasure what we did, together, these last few years. Things were on the uptick, and it’s sad that we won’t be able to see it through. Together.  We should’ve — SHOULD’VE SHOULD’VE SHOULD’VE — been given that opportunity.  And it will forever piss me off that we weren’t.

Brent and Chris and JJ, much love to you all as well.

Shortly after I received the job call of death, I called my dad. Told him what was going on in his son’s life.  After I hung up the phone, he sent me a GIF in a text message a few minutes later.  I’ll link it here to end whatever this is, because it’s appropriate.  And old school.

And, well… bye.

via GIPHY

2018 FCS All-American RB commits to Virginia

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Virginia joined South Carolina over the weekend as Power Five football schools realizing a personnel benefit from a lower-level program’s loss.

Two weeks ago, the Colonial Athletic Association announced that it was canceling its 2020 college football season because of the coronavirus pandemic.  One member of that FCS conference is Towson.  Coincidentally or not, one standout member of the Tigers, Shane Simpson, took to Twitter last week to announce that he has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.

On that same social media service Sunday, the running back confirmed that he has committed to the Virginia football team.  Simpson had his transfer to-do list down to Virginia and Texas.

As Simpson was a fifth-year senior in 2019, it appears he has been granted a sixth season of eligibility.  Or, is fairly confident he will receive one.

Simpson would likely be eligible for that sixth season as he missed all but four games of his true freshman season in 2015 because of injury, then missed all but the first three games last season because of a serious knee injury.

In 2018, Simpson earned first-team All-American honors.  He finished second in all of FCS with 171.5 all-purpose yards per game, totaling 2,058 yards on the season.  That same season, the Pennsylvania product was the CAA’s Special Teams Player of the Year and earned three different all-conference honors: first-team at running back, second-team as a kick returner and third-team as a punt returner.

Simpson would be eligible to play immediately in 2020 at the FBS level.