Associated Press

Week 3, Statistically Speaking

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

.960 — Completion percentage for Georgia’s Grayson Lambert (24-25) in the blowout win over South Carolina, setting an FBS single-game record for a minimum of 20 attempts. The record of 95.8 percent was previously held by Tennessee’s Tee Martin (1998) and West Virginia’s Geno Smith (2012).

.977 — Percentage of kicks (field goals and extra points) made by Florida State’s Robert Aguayo, the highest of any FBS kicker ever.  The most accurate kicker in the history of college football has been successful on 51-56 field goals and all 163 extra point attempts.

2 — Home losses for Boise State since 2010, the fewest of any FBS program.  Baylor, LSU, Northern Illinois, Ohio State, Oregon, Stanford and Wisconsin have all lost three home games in that stretch.

UAB v Western Kentucky6 — 400-plus passing yard games for Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty following a 484-yard performance in a three-point loss to Indiana.  It was also the 14th 300-yard game of his career.

7 — Non-conference wins over Power Five teams since 2012 for Northwestern, the most of any P5 program.

10 — Number of players who recorded at least one carry as Boise State ran for 344 yards in a 52-0 rout of Idaho State Friday night.

10 — Total points by which Army has lost its first three games: 37-35 to Fordham, 22-17 to UConn, 17-14 to Wake Forest.

11 — Consecutive seasons Kansas State has returned a kickoff for a touchdown, the longest such streak in the nation.  Auburn is next at six straight, followed by Florida and Northern Illinois with five straight each.

12 — Number of Oklahoma State players who caught at least one of the Cowboys’ 19 completions in a win over UT-San Antonio.  None of the players caught more than three passes.

12 — Active FBS head coaches with at least 150 wins: Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech), Steve Spurrier (South Carolina), Brian Kelly (Notre Dame), Dennis Franchione (Texas State), Bill Snyder (Kansas State), Gary Pinkel (Missouri), Nick Saban (Alabama), Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), Paul Johnson (Georgia Tech), Jerry Kill (Minnesota), Tommy Tuberville (Cincinnati) and Terry Bowden (Akron).  Tuberville joined that club yesterday thanks to UC’s win over archrival Miami of Ohio.

Northwestern v California16.4 — Yards per carry Cal’s Khalfani Muhammad averaged in rushing for 164 yards and helping the Bears to a wild 45-44 win over Texas.

17 — Consecutive games in which USC has scored a first-quarter touchdown, the longest in the country.  TCU is next at 16 straight.

17 — Home winning streak for Baylor, the longest active streak in the country.  Florida State and Boise State are next at 16 straight, while Alabama saw its streak of 17 in a row come to an end.

26 — Career wins for Michigan State’s Connor Cook and Stanford’s Kevin Hogan as starting quarterbacks, tying Ohio State’s Braxton Miller for the most amongst active players.  Miller, of course, is no longer an active quarterback as he moved to H-back this past offseason.

29 — Consecutive wins for Florida over Kentucky, the longest current winning streak against a single opponent.  The Wildcats’ last win over the Gators came in 1986.  UK’s last win in Gainesville back in 1979.

40 — Former LSU players on NFL rosters opening weekend, the most of any FBS program.  Miami was next with 37, followed by USC’s 35, 34 each for Alabama and Georgia, 31 apiece for Florida and Florida State and 30 for Ohio State.  With four, the Trojans had the most quarterbacks on opening-day rosters.

40 — Years since the Georgia Tech-Notre Dame matchup that spawned both the legend of Rudy Ruettiger and, ultimately, the much-beloved movie “Rudy.”

56 — Wins by Stanford this decade, the most of any FBS private school.  Behind that is Baylor at 49 and USC at 46.

58 — Years since Nebraska lost to two unranked teams in September before pulling that trick this season in losses to Miami and BYU.  They have also started a season 1-2 for the first time since 1981.

137 — All-time record for consecutive weeks in the Associated Press Top 10, set by Miami (Fla.) from 1985-93.  Alabama, at 69 straight, owns the longest current streak.

141 — Years Jerry Kill‘s current Minnesota coaching staff, including his strength & conditioning coach, have served under him at various stops, the most of any staff in the nation.

Troy v North Carolina State189 — Pass attempts for Troy’s Brandon Silvers without an interception, the longest such streak in the nation.  West Virginia’s Skyler Howard has yet to throw a pick in his 161 career attempts.

203 — Rushing yards for Indiana’s Jordan Howard, his seventh straight 100-yard rushing effort.  The first four of those games came as a member of the UAB football program.

219 — Rushing yards for UCLA’s Paul Perkins in the one-point win over BYU.  It was the junior’s first career 200-yard game.

230 — Career-high rushing yards for Southern Miss’ Jalen Richard against Texas State, the first time he’s topped the century mark.  His previous high was 94 in September of 2013.

246 — Sacks by Stanford since 2007, the most of any FBS team.  Virginia Tech is next with 237 in that span.

261 — Receiving yards, on seven catches, for Roger Lewis in Bowling Green’s 44-41 loss to Memphis.  Included in that total was a school-record 94-yard touchdown catch among his three touchdown receptions.

379 — Career-high passing yards for Brad Kaaya in Miami’s roller coaster win over Nebraska.

487038352391 — Career-high passing yards for P.J. Walker in Temple’s win over UMass.

427 — Yards passing for Dane Evans in Tulsa’s shootout loss to Oklahoma.

499 — Rushing yards for Arizona in a 77-13 romp over FCS Northern Arizona, averaging 12.2 yards per carry.  The Wildcats’ leading rusher, quarterback Jerrard Randall, gained his 149 yards on just three carries.

505 — Total yards of offense for Trevone Boykin — 454 passing, 50 rushing — as TCU rolled its way past SMU 56-37.  As a team, the Horned Frogs posted 720 yards of offense.

695 — Total yards for Middle Tennessee State in a 73-14 win over Charlotte, setting a school record.  The 73 points were also second in school history.

917 — Wins in the history of the Michigan football program, the most of any FBS school.  Notre Dame is next at 885, followed by Texas (882), Nebraska (875) and Ohio State (866).  Winning percentage, though, is a slightly different story.

1950 — The last, and only, time Texas A&M and Nevada had met on the gridiron prior to Saturday afternoon’s game in College Station.  It was also the Wolf Pack’s first-ever against a current member of the SEC as the Aggies were SWC members at the time of the first meeting in San Antonio.  Nevada also played Missouri in 2008-09 when Mizzou was part of the Big 12.

1951 — The last time Nebraska played a regular season game in South Florida prior to its matchup with the Miami Hurricanes.  The Cornhuskers, of course, played in 17 Orange Bowls from 1954-1997, including six in seven years from 1991-97.

1968 — The last time a team (Houston) scored 73-plus points in back-to-back games prior to Ole Miss opening the season with scoring outbursts of 76 (UT Martin, Week 1) and 73 points (Fresno State, Week 2).  In its Week 3 game against Alabama, Ole Miss was “held” to 43 in a six-point win.

1978 — The last time Missouri won a game in which it didn’t hit double digits prior to Saturday’s 9-6 win over UConn.  That year, Mizzou beat Notre Dame 3-0 in the season opener in South Bend.

1984 — Michigan State’s last game against a service academy prior to Saturday’s win over Air Force.  That ’84 game was a 10-6 loss to Army, incidentally.

1991 — Last year Syracuse began a season 3-0 before opening 2015 with wins over Rhode Island, Wake Forest and Central Michigan.  In order to match that ’91 team’s 4-0 start, though, they’ll need to beat unbeaten LSU in Week 4.

30,294 — Rushing yards for Georgia Tech since Paul Johnson took over the football program beginning with the 2008 season, far and away the most of any FBS team in that span.The next-closest are Navy at 27,264 and Air Force at 27,146.

Big Ten pulls plug on fall football amid COVID-19 concerns

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The Big Ten won’t play football this fall because of concerns about COVID-19, becoming the first of college sports’ power conferences to yield to the pandemic.

The move announced Tuesday comes six day after the conference that includes historic programs such as Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska and Penn State had released a revised conference-only schedule that it hoped would help it navigate a fall season with potential COVID-19 disruptions.

But it was not a surprise. Speculation has run rampant for several days that the Big Ten was moving toward this decision. On Monday, coaches throughout the conference tried to push back the tide, publicly pleading for more time and threatening to look elsewhere for games this fall.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”

The Big Ten touts itself as the oldest college athletic conference in the country, dating back to 1896 when it was called the Western Conference, and its schools have been playing football ever since. It became the Big Ten in 1918 and grew into a football powerhouse.

The 14 Big Ten schools span from Maryland and Rutgers on the East Coast to Iowa and Nebraska out west. Not only has it been one of the most successful conferences on the field but off the field it has become one of the wealthiest.

The Big Ten, with its lucrative television network, distributes about $50 million per year to its members.

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.”

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.”

After MAC surrenders to pandemic, will other leagues follow?

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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”