Week 14, Statistically Speaking

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

.2 — Yards per attempt for USF on its 22 carries in Friday’s 16-0 loss to UCF.

.611 – Winning percentage of visiting teams in Pac-12 road games (33-21) this season. The four teams ranked in last week’s Associated Press Top 25 (Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State, Arizona) have a combined overall road record of 19-3 (.864).

5 — Single-game rushing performances Georgia Southern has placed in the Top 30 all-time at the FBS level this season alone.  Those are No. 2 (613, vs. Georgia State), No. 3 (564, vs. Savannah State), No. 21 (421, vs. Troy), T-No. 22 (419, vs. New Mexico State) and No. 30 (408, Appalachian State).

5 — Times during their 124 meetings Minnesota and Wisconsin have faced each other when both teams are ranked (1954, 1962, 1999, 2005, 2014).

6 — Consecutive losses to end the regular season for Kentucky after it began the season 5-1, leaving the Wildcats one win shy of bowl-eligibility.  UK was also 0-4 after the announcement of a contract extension for head coach Mark Stoops.

6-0 — UCF’s home record in 2014, its first perfect season at home since 2001.

7 — Consecutive seasons Alabama, Nebraska and Oregon have won at least nine games, the only teams in the country that can make that claim.

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptm5nju3zweyoduxyzrjmzfhnmrjnjnjzwjmntbiywfl7 — More wins Western Michigan and Air Force have in 2014 (8-4 and 9-3, respectively) than they did in 2013 (1-11 and 2-10, respectively), the biggest turnarounds this season.  TCU (4-8 last year, 10-1 this year) could reach that mark with a win in Week 15, while Memphis (9-3 in 2014, 3-9 in 2013) could do it in a bowl game.

12 — Bowl-eligible teams for the SEC, a conference record.  The only teams from the 14-team league that failed to qualify for the postseason were Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

12 — Consecutive games in which Jake Waters has thrown for 200 yards or more, the longest such streak during Bill Snyder‘s tenure at Kansas State.

12 — Points scored by Northern Illinois off of Western Michigan’s six turnovers in NIU’s 31-21 win Friday.

13 — Consecutive games in which TCU has scored 30 or more points, the longest such streak at the FBS level.

14 — Interceptions this season by Louisville’s Gerod Holliman, tying the FBS record set by Washington’s Al Worley in 1968.

15 — Combined touchdown passes for Marshall and Western Kentucky in Friday’s 67-66 game; Army has thrown 15 touchdown passes the last four seasons combined.

16 — Consecutive home wins for Alabama, the longest such streak in the country.  Baylor is next with 15 straight, followed by Florida State (14) and Boise State (14).

16 — Consecutive seasons Boise State has won eight or more games, the longest such streak in the country.  The Broncos went 6-5 in 1998 prior to starting their streak.

Jameis Winston
Jameis Winston

17 — Interceptions this season for Florida State’s Jameis Winston in 392 attempts, the most for any Power Five quarterback.  During his Heisman-winning 2013 season, Winston threw 10 interceptions in 384 attempts.

18 — Players in FBS history to run for 2,000-plus yards in the season, with Indiana’s Tevin Coleman becoming the most recent.  Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon had already surpassed that mark earlier this season.

19-4 — Kansas State’s record vs. Kansas under Bill Snyder, including a 19-1 record since 1993.  Prior to Snyder’s arrival, KU held a 59-23-5 advantage on K-State in the in-state rivalry.

23College GameDay appearances, home, road and neutral sites, for Alabama since Nick Saban took over as head coach in 2007, the most of any other team.  Oregon is next with 18 in that span, followed by LSU (16), Ohio State (13), and Oklahoma and Florida (12 each).

25 — Point deficit Rutgers overcame in 41-38 win over Maryland, the largest comeback in school history.  The previous largest was 24 against Vanderbilt in 2004.

38 — Yards for Melvin Gordon in a Week 2 win over FCS-level Western Carolina, averaging 2.2 yards on his 17 carries.  In his other 11 games, all against FBS competition, Gordon is averaging 202 yards per game and 8.3 yards per carry.

39 — Number of wins for Duke in David Cutcliffe‘s six-plus years as head coach. It’s also the number of wins the football program had in the previous 17 years prior to Cutcliffe’s arrival in 2008.

40 — Consecutive games Texas Tech has totaled at least 325 yards of total offense, the longest such streak in the country.

42 — Yards on a second-quarter completion by Navy’s Keenan Reynolds in a win over South Alabama, his only completion in four attempts in a game that helped the service academy become bowl-eligible.

43 — Years since Memphis won a conference title before clinching at least a share of the AAC in Week 14.

J.T. Barrett
J.T. Barrett

45 — Touchdowns responsible for in 2014 (34 passing, 11 rushing) for Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, breaking the Big Ten record of 42 set by Purdue’s Drew Brees in 1998 (39 passing, three rushing).

95 — Non-offensive touchdowns for Kansas State since 1999, the most of any FBS team in that span.

100 — Graduation rate percentage for Duke, Northwestern, Notre Dame and Stanford football for the most recent academic year, the only FBS programs that can make that claim.

124 — Including Saturday, games played in the Minnesota-Wisconsin series, the most-played rivalry at the FBS level.  It’s also the longest-running, consecutively-played rivalry at 108 straight; Clemson-South Carolina at 106 straight is the second-longest.

133 — Points scored in the Western Kentucky-Marshall football game, more than the the combined score of the former’s basketball game Thanksgiving Day (121) or the latter’s Black Friday hoops contest (127).

222 — Rushing yards as a team for Western Kentucky in its win over Marshall, even as Leon Allen had 237 on his own.  The only other Hilltopper credited with a run was quarterback Brandon Doughty, whose statline read two carries for minus-15 yards.

317 — Number of yards rushing Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine ran for in the second and third quarters alone in his record-setting 427-yard rushing performance in Week 13.

320.2Logan Woodside‘s pass efficiency rating in Toledo’s 52-16 win over Eastern Michigan Friday.  Woodside, who came into the game with a 131.2 rating, completed 14-of-18 passes for 323 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.

340 — Consecutive games Nebraska has sold-out Memorial Stadium, a streak that dates back to Nov. 3, 1962.

Kyle Bolin, Mike Douglas, John Miller
Kyle Bolin

381 — After replacing the injured Reggie Bonnafon, career-high passing yards for Louisville freshman Kyle Bolin in the 44-40 win over Kentucky.  Bolin, who entered the 2014 season as the Cardinals’ No. 3 quarterback, entered Saturday’s game with 35 career passing yards.

456 — Passing yards for Auburn’s Nick Marshall in the Iron Bowl loss to Alabama, his first career 400-yard passing game.  In fact, it was just his second career 300-yard passing game, with the first (339) coming Sept. 14 of last year vs. Mississippi State.

469 — Rushing yards for Arkansas State in its 68-35 rout of New Mexico State.  Three different Red Wolves players rushed for 100-plus yards: quarterback Fredi Knighten (153) and running backs Michael Gordon (143) and Johnston White (110).  Knighten and Gordon combined for eight touchdowns as well, two passing and two rushing for the former and three rushing and one receiving for the latter.

598 — Passing yards for Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes in the two-point loss to Baylor, setting a Big 12 freshman record.  The previous record of 462 was set last season by Tech quarterback Davis Webb, whose injury earlier this season opened the starting door for Mahomes.  It was also the fourth-highest single-game total in Red Raider history.

1,074 — Rushing yards in 2014 for Boston College’s Tyler Murphy, breaking the single-season ACC record for a quarterback of 1,061 set by Clemson’s Woodrow Dantzler in 2001.

1,773 — Yards passing for Washington State’s Luke Falk in the four games since Connor Halliday went down with a season-ending injury.  That’s more than nine FBS teams had in 12 games this season, and nearly more than a 10th (Wisconsin, 1,774).

1933-35 — Last time a Big Ten team (Minnesota) went three straight years without a regular-season loss in conference play prior to Ohio State pulling that trick in 2012-14. The Buckeyes are also the first team ever to produce no ties or losses in conference contests over a three-year period in Big Ten history.

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwvinzjjnmiwyzc4y2riodmwotk1n2rinmixmgq0nju31940s — Last decade in which Indiana had a winning record over Purdue in the battle for the Old Oaken Bucket (7-3).  With Saturday’s win, the Hoosiers now have a 3-2 record in the rivalry game in the 2010s.

1968 — Prior to CBS airing it Saturday, the last year the Mississippi State-Ole Miss Egg Bowl was aired on a broadcast network, with that network being NBC.

1983 — Last season LSU played on Thanksgiving Day prior to Thursday’s win over Texas A&M.  The Tigers have played on Turkey Day a total of 26 times in their history, the first coming in 1899.

1986 — Last season Arizona State (No. 13) and Arizona (No. 15) both entered the Territorial Cup as ranked teams prior to this year’s rivalry game.

1998 — Last season prior to this year that Arizona won at least 10 games in the regular season.  It’s also just the second time ever 116-year history of the program the Wildcats have pulled off that feat.

2,260 — Rushing yards in 2014 for Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, surpassing the Big Ten single-season record of 2,109 of former UW running back Ron Dayne in 1996. Gordon’s total currently stands fourth-best in FBS history, behind only Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders (2,628 in 1988), UCF’s Kevin Smith (2,567 in 2007) and USC’s Marcus Allen (2,342 in 1981).

3,387 — Career rushing yards for Miami’s Duke Johnson, breaking the school record of 3,331 yards set by Ottis Anderson.

Trump, coaches push for college football as cracks emerge

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President Donald Trump joined a U.S. senator and a number of coaches Monday in the push to save the college football season from a pandemic-forced shutdown.

There was speculation that two of the five most powerful conferences — the Big Ten and the Pac-12 — might call off their seasons. Farther east, Old Dominion canceled fall sports and became the first school in the Bowl Subdivison to break from its league in doing so; the rest of Conference USA was going forward with plans to play.

A Big Ten spokesman said no votes had been taken by its presidents and chancellors on fall sports as of Monday afternoon and the powerful Southeastern Conference made clear it was not yet ready to shutter its fall season.

“Best advice I’ve received since COVID-19: ‘Be patient. Take time when making decisions. This is all new & you’ll gain better information each day,’” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey posted on Twitter. ”Can we play? I don’t know. We haven’t stopped trying.”

A growing number of athletes have spoken out about saving the season with Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence among the group posting their thoughts on Twitter with the hashtag #WeWantToPla. Trump threw his support behind them Monday.

“The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled,” he tweeted.

Old Dominion has stopped trying. The Virginia school canceled football and other fall sports less than a week after Conference USA set out a plan to play a football season.

“We concluded that the season – including travel and competition – posed too great a risk for our student-athletes,” ODU President Broderick said.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh took a different stand, saying the Wolverines have shown players can be safe after they return to school.

“I’m not advocating for football this fall because of my passion or our players desire to play but because of the facts accumulated over the last eight weeks since our players returned to campus on June 13,” he wrote. “I am advocating on August 10 that this virus can be controlled and handled because of these facts.”

Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, picked up on the safer-with-football theme in a letter to the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten.

“Life is about tradeoffs. There are no guarantees that college football will be completely safe — that’s absolutely true; it’s always true,” he wrote. “But the structure and discipline of football programs is very likely safer than what the lived experience of 18- to 22-year-olds will be if there isn’t a season.”

“Here’s the reality: Many of you think that football is safer than no football, but you also know that you will be blamed if there is football, whereas you can duck any blame if you cancel football,” added Sasse, a former college president. “This is a moment for leadership. These young men need a season. Please don’t cancel college football.”

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast/

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Players unite in push to save college season, create union

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Michigan defensive back Hunter Reynolds saw the tweets from Trevor Lawrence and other college football players pushing for the opportunity to play this season despite the pandemic.

Reynolds, one of the organizers behind a players’ rights movement in the Big Ten, didn’t like the way some on social media seemed to be pitting Lawrence’s message against the efforts of #BigTenUnited and #WeAreUnited.

“There was a lot of division,” Reynolds told AP early Monday morning.

Reynolds got on a call with Lawrence and the star quarterback’s Clemson teammate, Darien Rencher, and within a matter of hours the summer of athlete empowerment found another gear.

College football players from across the country united Sunday in an attempt to save their season and ensure they will no longer be left out of the sport’s biggest decisions.

Lawrence, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Oklahoma State All-America running back Chuba Hubbard, Alabama running back Najee Harris and numerous other players from Florida State to Oregon posted a graphic on social media with #WeWantToPlay and #WeAreUnited.

“We came to the conclusion, We Want to Play, their message might have been conveyed differently but at the end of the day the message wasn’t too far off from what Big Ten United wanted to promote,” Reynolds said. “Which is we all want to play sports this fall. Every athlete, I’m pretty sure, wants to play their sports. They just want to do so safely.”

The #WeAreUnited hashtag was used a week ago by a group of Pac-12 players in announcing a movement they say has the support of hundreds of peers within their conference. They have threatened mass opt-outs by players if concerns about COVID-19 protocols, racial injustice in college sports and economic rights for athletes are not addressed.

#BigTenUnited arrived on the scene a couple days later, a movement that claimed the backing off 1,000 Big Ten football players. Their demands were more targeted, strictly related to health and safety in dealing with COVID-19.

Sunday night, the call with Reynolds, Rencher and Lawrence led to a Zoom meeting — of course — with some of the Pac-12 players involved in “WeAreUnited.”

Washington State defensive lineman Dallas Hobbs got to work on a graphic and now the movement is officially nationwide.

“Just started bouncing ideas off each others’ heads and kind of discussing where we go from here and we ended up coming up with that statement,” said Reynolds, a senior from South Orange, New Jersey.

Under the logos of each Power Five conference — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — the players pronounced their platform:

— We all want to play football this season.

— Establish universal mandated health & safety procedures and protocols to protect college athletes against COVID-19 among all conferences throughout the NCAA.

— Give players the opportunity to opt out and respect their decision.

— Guarantee eligibility whether a player chooses to play the season or not.

— Use our voices to establish open communication and trust between players and officials: Ultimately create a College Football Players Association.

All of this capped a weekend during which the adults who run college sports seemed to be moving toward shutting it all down because of the pandemic.

A day after the Mid-American Conference became the first of the major college football leagues to cancel the fall season, Power Five conference commissioners met Sunday. They discussed mounting concerns about whether a season can be safely conducted with the pandemic still not under control in the United States.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said no decisions on the season have been made, but conceded the outlook has not improved.

“Are we in a better place today than two weeks, ago? No, we’re not,” he said.

Bowlsby cited “growing evidence and the growing pool of data around myocarditis.”

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart and it has been found in some COVID-19 patients. There is concern it could be a long-term complication of contracting the virus even in young, healthy people, a group that has usually avoided severe cardiovascular symptoms.

Also Sunday night, the Big Ten’s university presidents and chancellors held a previously unscheduled meeting, a person with knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was not announced by the conference.

Another person with direct knowledge of the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity, said no votes were taken or decisions made about the college football season.

The final call on whether major college football will played this season rests in the hands of the university presidents who oversee the largest conferences.

With doom and gloom hanging over college football, Lawrence, who has become the face of the sport in a summer of strife, tried to push back the tide with a series of tweets.

“People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don’t play,” Lawrence posted. “Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract covid19.”

Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth had a similar message, and the parents of Ohio State football players weighed in, too.

Reynolds wants athletes to have a say in the meetings that are deciding the fate of their sports — starting now.

”All college athletes through unifying and not being afraid to speak our minds and having social media to kind of mobilize, I think that box on a Zoom call is something that is pretty attainable,” he said. “Especially, in the near future.”

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast/

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

After MAC surrenders to pandemic, will other leagues follow?

MAC football
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In many ways, the Mid-American Conference has little in common with Power Five leagues that first come to mind when fans think of major college football.

There are no 75,000-seat stadiums in the MAC. Million-dollar per year coaches are rare. In a typical season, NFL scouts might find one or two potential first-round draft picks playing at the 12 MAC schools that dot the Midwest. The MAC’s biggest games — #MACtion, if you will — are often played on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Its television deal with ESPN pays per year only a few million more than the $9 million Clemson pays coach Dabo Swinney.

Still, the MAC is one of 10 conferences that competes in the NCAA’s highest level of football, and Saturday it became the first of those to surrender to the coronavirus pandemic and cancel the fall sports season.

So is the MAC an anomaly, done in by its small budgets or is this a dire sign of things to come in college football?

“I won’t try to judge what other folks are doing,” MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said. “I know we’re all in the same place. They all have their advisers. They’re going to make judgments based on the information they are receiving.”

Not long after the MAC announced it would explore second-semester seasons for all fall sports, including soccer and volleyball, the Big Ten made its own announcement that seemed ominous given the timing.

Tapping the brakes on football’s preseason, the Big Ten told its schools that until further notice full contact practices cannot begin. All teams will remain in the first two days of what is known as the “acclimatization period,” working out in just helmets. The first Big Ten games of the season are scheduled for Sept. 5.

“As we have consistently stated, we will continue to evaluate daily, while relying on our medical experts, to make the best decisions possible for the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes,” the Big Ten said in a statement.

The MAC’s schools were facing a significant financial burden by trying to maintain costly COVID-19 protocols, while also dealing with the uncertainty that campuses can be opened safely.

A move to the spring, however, could also be budget-buster if it means less revenue from the ESPN deal, which pays each school about $1 million per year, and football ticket sales. The MAC also shares about $90 million per year in College Football Playoff money with four other conferences.

“It would be naive to say that you don’t give thought and consideration to what the financial ramifications of any decision are, but this was a health and well-being decision first and foremost,” Steinbrecher said. “As we sit here today we don’t know what this will mean financially and how the rest of the fall plays out.”

Steinbrecher said the decision effects only fall sports, not basketball or others that begin in the second semester such as baseball, softball and lacrosse.

He added the decision was unanimous among the membership. Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier, supported by NIU President Lisa Freeman, has been a vocal advocate of delaying the season.

“No one wants to have football or sports more than me,” said Frazier, who played football at Alabama in the late 1980s. “Football gave me all the opportunities I have today, but I can’t do it at the expense of people’s lives.”

Eastern Michigan athletic director Scott Wetherbee said he has been feeling a sense of inevitability for two weeks about the MAC canceling fall football, but can’t predict whether this decision trickles up to other conferences.

“Could it? Certainly. There’s certainly a narrative out there that could happen,” Wetherbee said. “No, it wouldn’t shock me if some followed suit. In fact, it would shock me if some didn’t.”

NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline made clear that even though plans for the football season have been adjusted to accommodate potential COVID-19 disruptions like the ones Major League Baseball has had, they are all still aspirational.

“Almost everything would have to be perfectly aligned to continue moving forward,” Hainline said Friday during the NCAA’s weekly video chat on social media.

As the Power Five conferences re-worked their schedules to play exclusively or mostly within their conferences, another of the MAC’s revenue streams dried up.

MAC schools, with athletic budgets in the $30 million range, rely heavily on payouts from road games against power conference teams. Kent State alone had more than $5 million in so-called guarantee games canceled. Whether they can be recouped and when is still to be determined. Without that revenue, the strain became too great of trying to keep players and staff safe during a pandemic.

“Certainly there was a cost attached to it,” Wetherbee said. “But as a league we were prepared to do it.”

The move to try spring football has already been going on in the second tier of Division I.

Nine of 13 conferences that play in the Championship Subdivision, have postponed fall football seasons. The first was the Ivy League in early July.

Now it’s the MAC, which was among the first conferences to limit fan access to its basketball tournament in March as concerns for the virus began to soar across the country. On March 12, the MAC was among many conferences to call off their tournaments hours before the NCAA canceled all of March Madness.

“If you told me in March we’d be here today,” Steinbrecher said, “I’d never have believed it”

Colorado State pauses football after allegations of racism

Colorado State football
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FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Colorado State is pausing all football activities after an investigation started by the president of the university into the program’s handling of COVID-19 cases uncovered allegations of racism and verbal abuse toward athletes.

Athletic director Joe Parker said he asked President Joyce McConnell to expand the investigation she announced Tuesday to include a comprehensive review of the athletic department and football program.

“Today, we learned of some extremely troubling allegations of racism and verbal abuse from CSU’s athletic administration generally and in the football program specifically,” Parke said.

Parker’s statement did not mention any particular member of the coaching staff or athletic department. Steve Addazio is in his first season as head coach of the Rams.

McConnell announced the investigation Tuesday after an article published in the Coloradoan that quoted unidentified football players and members of the athletic staff saying coaches told them not to report coronavirus symptoms and threatened players with reduced playing time should they quarantine.

“Colorado State University is committed to being an anti-racist university, and we will not tolerate any behavior or climate that goes against that core value,” Parker said. “Moreover, CSU Athletics is committed to the health and well-being of student-athletes above all other priorities, and this includes their mental health. We believe it is our responsibility to make sure that all student-athletes feel welcomed and valued as members of an inclusive athletics community.”

Colorado State has paused all meetings, workouts and practices.

“While we have been working hard towards playing football this fall, the holistic well-being of our student-athletes is our unequivocal top priority,” Parker said. “We must and will address these allegations before we focus on playing football.”

On Tuesday, Addazio said he welcomed the investigation into the football program’s alleged mishandling of coronavirus protocols.

McConnell announced via an email to student-athletes and department staff Thursday that Husch Blackwell, a legal firm based in Kansas City, would lead the probe into those allegations

Addazio was hired in December, replacing Mike Bobo, after spending seven seasons with Boston College.

The Rams were scheduled to open the season Sept. 19 by hosting Northern Colorado, but the Big Sky Conference voted this week to push back its football season to the spring.