October 30, 2011
Weird, wild and prolific stats from the weekend's action.
• Baylor set a new school record with 446 yards passing, but didn't find the end zone via ground or air until well into the fourth quarter of a 59-24 blowout at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys led 35-0 at the half, 49-3 at the end of the third quarter and eventually won by five touchdowns — but still absorb a 622-yard hit on the stat sheet, dropping them to 111th out of 120 teams nationally in total defense.
Still, with five takeaways, the same defense also moved into the national lead with 29 forced turnovers for the year and a margin of +2.38 per game, putting Oklahoma State on pace to break the 2001 Miami Hurricanes' record for best turnover margin in a season.
• Achieving a startling new depth of ineptitude, Kansas finished with 46 yards of total offense and three first downs — one of which came via penalty, another on KU's final possession of the game — in a 43-0 embarrassment at Texas. In all, the Jayhawks launched seven punts, committed three turnovers and held the ball for less than 19 minutes en route to the second-worst offensive effort in school history. God help whoever watched the one that was worse.
• Iowa running back Marcus Coker ran for 252 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries in an otherwise humiliating, 22-21 loss at Minnesota, the best rushing performance of the season in a losing effort. The Hawkeyes moved the ball into Minnesota territory on each of their first eight offensive possessions, but failed to score on five of them thanks to (successively) a turnover on downs, a punt, two missed field goals and a fumble.
• One week after stunning America with 572 total yards in a 41-38 upset at Oklahoma, Texas Tech stunned in the opposite direction with just 290 yards in a 41-7 debacle against Iowa State in Lubbock. The Cyclones snapped a four-game losing skid — in which they'd allowed 37, 49, 52 and 33 points, respectively — by turning in season bests in every major defensive category, all of which corresponded with the Red Raiders' season worsts.
• Still ravaged by multiple injuries and the most unrelenting October schedule in the nation, Tennessee failed to top 200 yards total offense or reach the end zone for the second week in a row in a 14-3 loss at the hands of South Carolina. On their current five-game losing streak — all against ranked teams with a combined record of 29-3 — the Vols are averaging seven points on 212 yards per game, and haven't scored a touchdown in ten consecutive quarters.
• The 40-yard, game-winning touchdown pass from Braxton Miller to Devin Smith with 20 seconds remaining in Ohio State's 33-29 win over Wisconsin was the Buckeyes' longest completion of the year, topping the previous long of 33 yards. OSU remains the only team in the Big Ten that hasn't hit a 50-yarder.
• Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones set a new school with 505 yards passing in a 58-17 obliteration of previously unbeaten Kansas State, which dropped from 29th nationally in total defense — best in the Big 12 — to 60th after giving up 690 yards in all. The Sooners scored touchdowns on six consecutive offensive possessions to open the second half, all covering at least 62 yards, while forcing the Wildcats into six consecutive punts.
• Northwestern rolled up 616 total yards in a 59-38 rout at Indiana, coming just one passing yard shy of cracking 300 yards by both ground and air en route to its first Big Ten win. Wildcat quarterback Dan Persa accounted for 302 yards himself as a runner and passer, and receiver Drake Dunsmore set a school record with four touchdown receptions.
• Four of UCLA's five scoring drives in a 31-14 win over Cal were set up by Golden Bear turnovers, including three Bruin possessions (good for two touchdowns and a field goal) that began inside the Cal 20-yard line. At one point in the fourth quarter, Cal quarterback Zach Maynard threw three interceptions in a span of ten attempts.
• No doubt inspired by my skepticism, Notre Dame scored touchdowns on five of six first-half possessions to set off a 56-14 obliteration of Navy, the most lopsided final score in the series since 1970. Along with a 59-0 win over Air Force on Oct. 8, it's the first time the Fighting Irish have topped 50 points in the same season since Lou Holtz's final year as head coach in 1996.