Week 2: Bold predictions and massive extrapolations
This is a column about numbers, and we've got the two sweetest that any college football fan could hope for this weekend: 1 and 2. Probably don't need to elaborate much on those -- they're fairly self-explanatory. Ohio State. Texas. First time we've had a No. 1 versus a No. 2 in the regular season in college football in 10 years. A couple of key numbers to keep in mind on that showdown in a bit.
First, though, we look back as a means of looking ahead. I love Week 2 of the college football season -- it's bold proclamations, it's massive extrapolations. It's taking everything that happened in Week 1 of the season and trying to make some sense of it all.
Just last week, on a radio show somewhere in this great land of ours (could have been Virginia, might have been Pittsburgh, it's possible it was Chicago), I uttered the sentence, "You don't just lose 11 NFL draft picks and two Heisman Trophy winners and not miss a beat." In hindsight, it turns out, perhaps you do. Maybe they'll find a real "college football expert" for a guest next time. Hey, I tried.
Which leads us to the numbers:
1919: That was the last time the folks in Fayetteville saw the type of carnage that USC left in its wake on Saturday. The Trojans hung half a hundred on Arkansas, or one more point than they averaged last year, when they had a couple guys named Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. Not since November 1, 1919, three years to the day before the abolition of the Ottoman Empire, when noted powerhouse Henry Kendall (now The University of Tulsa) pounded Arkansas 63-7, had an opponent scored that many points in Fayetteville.
41: On the other end of the spectrum, but similarly unchanged from last year, we bring you what passes for Syracuse's offense. The Orange rolled up a total of 41 yards on 38 plays over the course of 11 possessions in the final 46 minutes of their loss to Wake Forest.
1996: What makes it all so staggering, of course, is that it wasn't that long ago that the 'Cuse was good. In September of 1996, for instance, Syracuse was ranked 23rd in the nation before losing to Minnesota 35-33. That was the last time the Gophers played a ranked nonconference opponent -- until Saturday, when they'll face No. 22 Cal. How very un-Glen Mason-like. Things return to normal next week when Temple comes to town.
88: Of course, that Cal game doesn't look nearly as daunting as it did last week. Not after the Bears, who averaged 427.9 yards of offense per game last year, gained 88 in the first half against Tennessee, 31 of which came on the first play from scrimmage. None of the many "statistical 180s" in Week 1 was more numerically startling than what the Vols pulled off against the Golden Bears. For instance:
1: Last season, Tennessee had 1 scoring play go longer than 40 yards. That's for the entire year.
4: In the win over the Bears, the Vols had 4 scoring plays of more than 40 yards.
34 minutes and 36 seconds: It took Erik Ainge 34 minutes and 36 seconds to throw his fourth TD pass of this season. It came on his 16th attempt of the year.
602 minutes and 10 seconds: Last season, Ainge threw TD pass No. 4 on his 125th attempt, 602 minutes and 10 seconds into the Vols' nightmarish season.
110: There were 110 combined offensive plays run in Oklahoma's win over the Blazers. The Sooners' Sports Information Office has reliable box scores going back to 1956 and couldn't find a game with fewer plays. Remarkable when you consider OU basically went entire decades without throwing the ball. A pretty clear indicator of the impact of the new clock rules.
3: Speaking of the Sooners, Northwestern beat Miami of Ohio 21-3. It was the fewest points the Wildcats have allowed since blanking Oklahoma 24-0 to start the 1997 season.
5: The Wildcats had 5 sacks in the Miami of Ohio game. They had 12 all of last season.
10: Northwestern plays I-AA power New Hampshire this week, hoping to avoid a fate similar to that of Colorado. The Buffs lost to I-AA Montana State 19-10 Saturday, just the second time in Dan Hawkins' 65 games as a I-A coach that his team has been held to 10 or fewer points. The other came just four games ago, when Hawkins' Boise State team lost 27-7 to Fresno State late last season.
-38: The Buffs' opponent this week, Colorado State, held Weber State to -38 rushing yards, a mere 261 fewer yards than the Rams allowed on average last season, when they ranked 115th nationally in rushing defense. Sure, it was a I-AA team, but try telling that to the Buffs.
0: The Scarlet Knights' cause was helped by QB Mike Teel, who did a solid job at QB stepping in for Ryan Hart. Teel threw 0 interceptions in 20 attempts. He tossed 10 picks in 101 attempts last year.
0: 0 also happens to be the number of times I hope to eat at Italian restaurants on our College GameDay Radio road tour this year. Gerry DiNardo's goal in life seems to be to sample marinara sauce in all 50 states. It hit a real low last year, when, upon pulling up to our Friday night eating establishment, he declared to no one in particular, "the woman at the Sunoco station said this is the best Italian in Blacksburg."
1866: In 1866, a German immigrant named August Scholz opened Scholz Biergarten, which remains the oldest continually operating business in Austin. If last year's crowd for the Texas Tech game is any indication, it'll be an absolute madhouse Saturday when Gerry, Todd McShay and I begin broadcasting there on ESPN Radio at noon ET. Not quite what Herr Scholz envisioned for his establishment, I'm sure, but, hey, society has evolved.
A few good numbers on this one before we wrap things up
171: Northern Illinois' Garrett Wolfe rushed for 171 yards last week against Ohio State. It's the most any back has run for against the Buckeyes since Penn State's Eric McCoo plowed for 211 yards in a win over OSU in 1999.
212: Number of yards Texas ran for last week against North Texas. And remember, Texas was 2nd in the nation in rushing last year. Could spell trouble for the Buckeyes. On the flipside
54.9: Ted Ginn's 17 career TDs have averaged 54.9 yards in length. Tough matchup for a Texas secondary that will be without starting CB Tarell Brown after his arrest on misdemeanor drug and weapons charges this week.
Prediction? Given my recent track record, I'm just going to stick to the numbers.
Dave Revsine is the host of College GameDay on ESPN Radio. Listen every Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. ET, as Gerry DiNardo, Todd McShay and Revsine break down the action.