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).

Pac-12 player group ‘disappointed’ after commissioner call

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The Pac-12 players of the “WeAreUnited” movement said they were “disappointed and deeply concerned” after a recent meeting with the conference’s commissioner.

The players sent an email to Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott late Friday accusing him of not taking the issues they have raised seriously enough. The email was also shared with members of the media.

The group’s correspondence came after Scott followed their Thursday call with an email to the players that struck a very different tone, thanking them for the “passion and honesty with which you spoke yesterday evening.”

The group is pushing the conference to address their concerns about COVID-19 protocols, racial injustice in college sports and economic rights for college athletes. Players threatened opting out of practices and games if their demands aren’t addressed. Leaders of the group have said their movement has more than 400 players from around the conference supporting it.

In their email to the commissioner, the players said they were unsatisfied with Scott’s answers to question about increasing the frequency of COVID-19 testing done on athletes and the mandating of best practices across the conference.

“Without a discernible plan and mandates to ensure the health and safety of student-athletes, it is absurd, offensive, and deadly to expect a season to proceed,” they said.

When the players went public with their demands last Sunday, they reached out to the Pac-12 and requested daily meetings with conference officials. Instead, they got one call last week and a pledge from the conference for continued communication.

“You informed us we cannot have legal representation attend these meetings to assist in connection with our legal rights, nor were you willing to even have regular meetings with us to provide updates,” the players wrote to Scott.

Scott’s email addressed four topics that made up the bulk of the Thursday call with 12 players: health and safety; eligibility; COVID-19 liability waivers; and opt-out due to COVID-19 concerns.

Scott wrote the conference will attempt to provide the players an opportunity to speak with the Pac-12 medical advisory committee and keep them abreast of work being done at the NCAA level to address whether athletes who opt out of the coming season will be permitted to retain eligibility.

Scott said the conference office would ensure none of the league’s schools ask athletes to sign liability waivers and reiterated Pac-12 schools were committed to honoring scholarships of players who chose not to play this season because of COVID-19 concerns.

“We will work on gathering the information listed above and providing it to you as soon as possible,” Scott wrote.

Clemson QB Lawrence says he’s completely committed to 2020 season

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Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence said he considered opting out of this season when he was unsure what college football would look like going forward amid the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Lawrence said Friday once he understood he’d play an 11-game season with a chance for an Atlantic Coast Conference and national championships, he decided to play his junior season.

The Heisman Trophy hopeful said he’s completely committed to this season and confident in Clemson’s ability to keep himself and his teammates safe.

Lawrence, who is the likely No. 1 overall pick in the next NFL draft should he leave college early, was 25-0 as a starter until he and Clemson fell to LSU in the national title game last January. The 6-foot-6 junior, had perhaps his poorest performance in college in the 42-25 loss to LSU. He joked how after his freshman year when he led Clemson to a championship he heard how amazing he was and since the LSU defeat, he heard how much work he has to do improve.

Pac-12 responds to football players threatening opt-outs

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The Pac-12 responded Monday to football players who have threatened 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.