Stats & Info: Pac-10

Power rankings: Fresno State has BCS edge

November, 18, 2013
The BCS Selection Process is clear:

The champion of Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference or the Sun Belt Conference (the "non-AQ group") will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game if either:

A. Such team is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS Standings, or
B. Such team is ranked in the top 16 of the final BCS Standings and its ranking in the final BCS Standings is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls.

However, no more than one such team from the non-AQ group will earn an automatic berth in any year, unless non-AQ teams finish both No. 1 and No. 2 in the final BCS Standings. If two or more teams from those conferences satisfy the provisions for an automatic berth, then the team with the highest finish in the final BCS Standings will receive the automatic berth.

This season, No. 15 Fresno State of the Mountain West Conference and No. 16 Northern Illinois of the Mid-American Conference are in prime positions to earn an automatic berth to a BCS Bowl game. Both teams rank in the top 16 of the BCS Standings and are ranked higher than No. 18 UCF, the highest-ranked team in the American Athletic Conference.

Only one non-AQ team will earn an automatic berth, so when evaluating the résumés of these two schools, conference strength is an important factor.

ESPN Stats & Information’s Conference Power Rankings can provide an objective measure of conference depth. According to these rankings, the Mountain West Conference is the strongest non-AQ conference from top to bottom.

The Mountain West has seven teams (out of 12) that are .500 or better, and is 18-8 against non-AQ opponents (including independent and FCS). Unlike other non-AQ conferences, the Mountain West does not have many weak teams.

The lowest ranked team in ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) from the Mountain Conference is No. 106 Air Force. In comparison the MAC and Conference USA each has at least six teams ranked below 106 in the FPI.

However, when looking at the top teams of each conference, the MAC has the most teams (5) and highest percentage of team (38 percent) with at least seven wins. Northern Illinois, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo and Toledo are all bowl eligible and have at least seven wins.

When comparing Fresno State and Northern Illinois, voters will have to account for the strength of each team’s conference, their out-of-conference schedules and their dominance in their wins. Using ESPN’s new ratings systems, one can see that Northern Illinois has played a tougher schedule, but Fresno State has been more dominant in its games. It is up to the voters to decide which conference they believe is stronger and how much that affects their thinking.

This week, the MAC will be on display on Tuesday and Wednesday with three games on the ESPN family of networks -- Buffalo heads to Miami (OH) on Tuesday (8 ET, ESPNU), Kent State travels to Ohio on Tuesday (8 ET, ESPN2) and Northern Illinois will look to remain unbeaten at Toledo on Wednesday (8 ET, ESPN2). On Thursday and Friday, the Mountain West and Conference USA will have their time in the spotlight as Rice, UAB, UNLV, Air Force and San Jose State are all in action.

Retooled Ducks still have big-play potential

August, 22, 2012

Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesDe’Anthony Thomas will try to help fill the void left by LaMichael James in the Oregon backfield.
Oregon is seeking to become the first team since the 1966-69 USC Trojans to win the Pac-12 football title outright in four consecutive seasons.

LaMichael James
But they’ll have to do it without LaMichael James.

In Chip Kelly’s three seasons as Oregon’s head coach, he’s done nothing but win three Pac-12 titles. In those three seasons, he has had dynamic playmakers that excelled in his spread option system.

Those playmakers have had a knack for breaking long runs, rushing for 20 or more yards once every 15.9 attempts, best in the nation among FBS teams with at least 10 games against AP Top 25 opponents since the start of 2009.

In the last two seasons, the Ducks’ high-octane offense ranked first in both touchdown drives of three plays or fewer (39) and touchdown drives in less than two minutes (90).

The main catalyst for Oregon’s offense has been James, the Pac-12’s second all-time leading rusher with 5,082 rushing yards in his three seasons. He has 34 rushes of at least 30 yards since the start of 2009, ranking first in FBS during that span.

For any program, it would be nearly impossible to replace a playmaker like James. However, the Ducks have two capable backs to effectively replace James’ production in Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas.

James, Barner and Thomas all ranked in the top four of the Pac-12 in yards per rush last season (minimum 50 rushes). As a team, the Ducks had the highest yards per rush average in FBS (6.7 yards per rush).

Oregon was even more successful running the ball on first downs last year. James led the way with 122 carries for 968 yards (7.9 yards per rush). It wasn’t all James however, as Barner and Thomas combined for 94 carries for 702 yards (7.5 yards per rush).

When James dislocated his elbow last year, Oregon did not lose a step. In the two games without him, Barner and Thomas carried the ball 49 times for 352 yards (7.2 yards per rush).

The speed of Oregon’s rushing attack has been illustrated by its success rushing outside of the tackles. Last season, James averaged 9.5 yards per rush outside the tackles while the two returnees went for 8.7 yards per rush.

Barner and Thomas’ versatility allowed them to line up at different positions and contribute in the passing game, combining for 63 receptions for 789 yards and 12 touchdowns. James had 17 receptions for 210 yards and one touchdown last season.

James thrived under Kelly’s system. However, statistics show Barner and Thomas can continue the recent trend of a potent Ducks rushing attack.

Barkley deep ball supports Heisman hype

August, 16, 2012

Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesUSC quarterback Matt Barkley is on pace to become the school's all-time leader in passing yards, completions, and touchdowns.
Matt Barkley will begin the year for No. 3 Southern California as a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy. Barkley would be the seventh Trojan to win the award (excluding Reggie Bush), tying USC with Notre Dame and Ohio State for most all-time.

His stellar play during the past three seasons has fueled the Heisman speculation heading into his senior year. To date, he has amassed over 9,000 passing yards and 80 touchdowns in 36 career starts (27-9) and is on pace to become USC’s all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns and completions.

High expectations are nothing new for Barkley as he entered USC in 2009 as the No. 1 player in the ESPN 150. After enrolling early, Barkley won the starting job during spring practice and became the only true freshmen to ever start the season opener for the Trojans.

Barkley also showed as a freshman that he would not shy away from the big stage. In just his second-career start, he led the Trojans on an 86-yard game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter against Ohio State in Columbus. Barkley finished the season with 2,735 yards and 15 touchdowns, the most by a true freshmen in school history.

USC’s starting center Khaled Holmes said of Barkley, the Trojans first ever three-time captain, "Guys recognized not only his skill, but his work ethic, his willingness to learn and his mental strength as well."

It appears that Barkley's work ethic has paid dividends as his completion percentage, passing yards, touchdown-to-interception ratio and passing efficiency have all improved in each of his three seasons. In 2011, Barkley finished with the third-most touchdown passes (39) and had the eighth-highest passing efficiency (161.2) in the FBS.

The area in which Barkley has made the biggest stride is his downfield passing. In 2011, he led the Pac-12 with 13 touchdown passes on throws that traveled 25 yards or more downfield.

That matched the combined total of fellow Pac-12 quarterbacks Andrew Luck (4), Nick Foles (4), and Darron Thomas (5)

The 13 touchdowns were also nine more than Barkley’s combined total from his first two seasons. Most impressively, his interceptions went down while the touchdowns went up. In 49 attempts 25-plus yards downfield, Barkley threw one interception in 2011. He had five such picks in the previous two seasons.

One factor that led to Barkley’s improved downfield passing was the emergence of wide receiver Marqise Lee. Lee provided another quality option for USC so teams could no longer focus solely on containing all-American receiver, Robert Woods.

As a freshman last season, Lee caught eight of Barkley’s 13 touchdowns on throws of 25-plus yards, and he had more receptions on such throws than the rest of the team combined. As a duo, Lee and Woods caught 26 total touchdown passes, including 12 on throws of 25-plus yards. Both receivers are back for the 2012 season.

If Barkley, Lee, and Woods continue to make positive strides in 2012, there’s no telling how far the Trojans can go.

Does new playoff system change anything?

June, 26, 2012
AP Photo/Gerald HerbertThe BCS Presidential Oversight Committee approved a 12-year plan for a four-team seeded playoff to determine college football’s national champion beginning in the 2014 season.
The new plan for a four-team seeded playoff to determine college football’s national champion changes the landscape of college football.

How would the new playoff format have affected the last five national championships if the plan had already been in place?


Using the top four teams in the final regular-season BCS rankings for 2007-2011 to simulate the choices that will be made by a human selection committee, AccuScore ran 10,000 four-team playoff simulations. The No. 2 seed actually won the title the highest percentage of the time, which is not surprising given that in three of the five seasons, the No. 2 seed ended up becoming the actual national champion. The No. 3 and 4 seeds won nearly 32 percent of the time.

However, based on AccuScore projections with the new playoff format, the last five college football national champions would have remained the same.


A four-team playoff means 3.2 percent of the 124 college football FBS schools would now be playing for a championship (assuming the number is still 124 by 2014). By comparison, 20.1 percent of men’s college basketball teams play in the Men’s Basketball Championship (68 of 338).


Although this new proposal is a huge step, it no doubt will create the same kinds of arguments that the BCS system did, even though the BCS system did get a few things right.

Six national championship games that occurred during the BCS tenure would not have occurred under the previous system, based on conference commitments to specific bowl games.

Conversely, if the BCS had been in place before 1998, some controversial national championships of the past could have been decided on the field, including Michigan-Nebraska in 1997, Nebraska-Penn State in 1994 and Miami-Washington in 1991.

One of the arguments against a playoff is that regular-season matchups – especially BCS No. 1 vs 2 – would become less important. Since the BCS started in 1998, there have been three 1 vs 2 regular season games after November 1. Two of those times the loser was knocked out of national championship contention, but this past season, Alabama reversed that.

Since the BCS began in 1998, four teams have finished unbeaten AND in the top four of the BCS Standings, but not ranked in the top two. Those four teams were TCU in 2010, Cincinnati and TCU in 2009, and Auburn in 2004.

With the new system, it’s no guarantee, but there’s a better chance that those teams would be able to compete for a national championship.

Breaking down possible football playoffs

May, 16, 2012
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireIf the possible playoff system for FBS Football only includes conference champions, Alabama wouldn't have had a chance to lift the trophy last season.
At the Big Ten meetings, commissioner Jim Delany voiced his preference that only the four highest-ranked conference champions be included in a possible four-team playoff, which could begin in 2014.

He also expressed his preference that the games be played using the current bowl structure instead of the home stadiums of the top two seeds, mostly because of the conference’s desire to preserve the Rose Bowl.

Since the inception of the BCS in 1998, the Big Ten has failed to place a team in the top four of the final BCS standings in eight of 14 seasons. In other words, if there had been a four-team playoff using the BCS standings to select the top teams, the Big Ten would have been left out 57 percent of the time. In the last four seasons, the highest-ranked Big Ten team was Wisconsin in 2010 at No. 5.

The Big Ten is afraid of a possible SEC monopoly on the four-team playoff. However, history suggests Delany’s proposal could work against his conference.

In half of the 14 seasons under the BCS, at least one conference placed two teams in the top four of the BCS Standings – including each of the last two years and three of the last four. In two of those instances, the Big Ten was the conference with two top-four teams.

In 2006 and 2008, two conferences produced the BCS’ final top four teams. In 2006, the top four were No. 1 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan of the Big Ten, and No. 2 Florida and No. 4 LSU of the SEC. In 2008, it was No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 3 Texas of the Big 12, and No. 2 Florida and No. 4 Alabama of the SEC.

The two plans are vastly different. How so? Take a look at the table to the right, which shows the different matchups using the 2011 season as an example.

Under Delany’s plan, the 10th- and fifth-ranked teams would have reached the national semifinals and the second- and fourth-ranked teams would have been left out.

Even after Alabama won the BCS Championship Game, the question of whether a team that failed to win its conference championship is worthy to play for the national title still divides fans. In the next few weeks, we’ll have an answer which could change college football.

High expectations for USC, passing attack

April, 10, 2012
Kirby Lee/US PresswireMatt Barkley is back to direct one of the most potent passing attacks in USC Trojans history.
Coming off of a two-year postseason ban, the USC Trojans plan to make their presence felt nationally this season. Matt Barkley and several other offensive skill players are back for a team that went 10-2 and averaged 36 points per game last season.

This is the first time since 2005 that USC has had its top passer, top rusher, and top two receivers return from the previous season. That team was coming off an undefeated season and national championship, and would run the table before falling to the Texas Longhorns in the final moments of the BCS Championship Game in Pasadena.

Aside from having the most prolific weapon in college football that season in Reggie Bush, USC's returning offensive group could be even more explosive in 2012 -- especially Matt Barkley and the Trojan passing assault.

Barkley's numbers from 2011 were better across the board than Matt Leinart's were when he won the Heisman Trophy in 2004. Barkley threw for more yards and touchdowns while completing a higher percentage of his passes in 2011 than Leinart did in 2004.

What's particularly scary for Pac-12 defenses is that Barkley has improved from year to year. His touchdowns have gone up and interceptions have dropped every year at USC, while Leinart's numbers were relatively unchanged during his three seasons leading the Trojans.

Barkley’s biggest improvement last year came when throwing the ball deep. He increased his completion percentage on passes 15-or-more yards downfield by 10 percent and didn’t throw an interception when throwing deep.

While Leinart often deferred to Reggie Bush and Lendale White in the red zone in 2005 (40 combined rushing TDs in 2005), the strength of the 2012 team lies with Barkley and his two favorite targets on the outside, Robert Woods and Marqise Lee.

The 2011 season marked the fourth time that a pair of USC receivers each eclipsed 1,000 yards, as Woods and Lee combined for 2,435 yards and 26 touchdowns. USC gained more yards from Barkley passing to Woods and Lee than 38 FBS teams had through the air for the season.

Woods and Barkley already hold several school and conference records. If they each replicate their success in 2012, even more records will fall.

Assuming a repeat performance of his 2011 statistics, Woods would be the Pac-12 career leader in receptions and would be tied for second in career touchdown receptions, all in three seasons. Barkley would be the eighth FBS quarterback to throw for more than 115 touchdowns in his career, and would be the Pac-12 career leader in passing yards and touchdowns.

Though setting records would be nice for these two players, the entire team has made it clear that there is a singular goal for the Men of Troy -- a BCS Championship.

Sharon Katz contributed to this post

US Presswire
Quarterback Matt Barkley smiles at the end of USC's 50-0 win over UCLA last season.

Other quarterbacks have chosen to stay in school when they stood to be prominent NFL Draft picks, as quarterback Matt Barkley has done at USC.

Let's take a statistical snapshot of recent examples to forgo the NFL Draft for one more year in the college ranks.

Peyton Manning, Tennessee
Manning still ended up as the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft after returning to Tennessee for his senior season in 1997.

The Vols won the SEC Championship, beating Auburn, 30-29 before losing to Nebraska, 42-17 in the Orange Bowl. They finished No. 7 in the final AP poll.

Matt Leinart, USC

After winning a national title as a junior, Leinart returned for a memorable campaign in 2005, but one that floundered on a couple fronts.

A year after winning the Heisman Trophy, Leinart finished third in the balloting. His Trojans fell short of a second straight undefeated season and national championship, losing to Texas and quarterback Vince Young in a classic game.

Leinart ended up being selected 10th by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2006 NFL Draft and has not yet flourished at the level he did in college.

Sam Bradford, Oklahoma

After winning the Heisman Trophy and losing the national championship game to a Tim Tebow-led Florida team, Bradford returned for his junior year at Oklahoma. It did not go as planned.
Bradford suffered a shoulder injury in the Sooners first game of the season, then re-injured his shoulder upon returning to face Texas.

Bradford sat out the remainder of the season, then declared for the NFL Draft. He was taken by the St. Louis Rams with the No. 1 pick, and he has thrown for 24 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in two NFL seasons.

Andrew Luck, Stanford
Luck tested his luck by staying in school for his senior season in 2011, and the decision worked out well.

The Cardinal went 11-2 in Luck’s senior season, finishing No. 7 in the national rankings after a 41-38 loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Luck is expected to be taken No. 1 in this year’s NFL Draft.

Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireOklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon is a Fiesta Bowl winner. Now his eyes are set on the NFL.
The Oklahoma State Cowboys never led until making the final field goal in its Fiesta Bowl victory against the Stanford Cardinal.

Oklahoma State won its first-ever trip to a BCS bowl game and finished with a school-record 12 wins.

It was the third overtime game in Fiesta Bowl history (most recent before this year was 2007 between Boise State and Oklahoma).

Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon tied career and Fiesta Bowl highs with three receiving touchdowns, and was the first receiver this season to go for more than 100 yards against Stanford.

Blackmon (eight receptions, 186 yards) was bracketed for much of the game by multiple defenders but found space when the Cardinal blitzed.

He was targeted seven times, hauling in four passes for 139 yards, including two touchdowns, when Stanford sent five or more pass rushers.

Cowboys running back Joseph Randle ran for one touchdown, his 26th rushing touchdown of the season, finishing one behind Ricky Williams for the Big 12 record.

The door swung wide open for Oklahoma State, courtesy of Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson.

Williamson missed a career-high three field goals, including a possible game-winner at the end of regulation.

Andrew Luck ended his collegiate career with interceptions in six straight games. But he threw only four incompletions all game.

On Stanford's touchdown drives, Luck was even better. He was a perfect 15-for-15 passing on Stanford's touchdown drives.

Luck completed all but one of his 24 pass attempts from the pocket Monday. He was 14-of-14 when targeting Ty Montgomery or his tight ends from the pocket, including both of his touchdown passes.

Cardinal running back Stepfan Taylor finished with a career-high 177 yards in the loss.

Oklahoma State forced two turnovers and finished the season first in the nation with 44 forced turnovers.

US Presswire
De'Anthony Thomas led Oregon to its first Rose Bowl win in nearly 100 years.
The Oregon Ducks’ high-powered offense lived up to the hype as the Ducks rallied from a late third-quarter deficit with 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat the Wisconsin Badgers 45-38 for their first Rose Bowl win since the 1916 season.

The Ducks and Badgers re-wrote the Rose Bowl record book with their offensive explosion in Pasadena. The 83 combined points are the most ever scored in the “Grandaddy of Them All”; the game also featured the highest-scoring first quarter (28) and first half (56) in Rose Bowl history.

The teams combined for 1,129 yards, one yard short of the record set in the 2006 game between USC and Texas, and the 557 combined rushing yards were the fourth-most ever in a Rose Bowl game. Oregon’s average of 9.7 yards per play is the highest of any team in Rose Bowl history and its 621 total yards of offense is the second-most by a team in this game.

Oregon dominated the line of scrimmage as the Ducks rushed for 345 yards, the most by any Wisconsin opponent this season. The Ducks' running backs entered the Rose Bowl averaging 2.8 more yards outside of the tackles than inside, but on Monday the Ducks were able to find room in regardless of direction, averaging over 10 yards per rush on carries both inside and outside the tackles.

De’Anthony Thomas had just two carries but made them count, accounting for 155 of the Ducks’ 345 yards on the ground. His first run was a Rose Bowl-record 91-yard scamper in the first quarter to tie the game at 14-14; his second was a 64-yard burst less than a minute into the third quarter which gave the Ducks their first lead of the game at 35-28.

Thomas is the first player in Rose Bowl history with two rushing touchdowns of at least 60 yards in the same game.

It’s no surprise that Thomas’ two long runs were so crucial to the Ducks’ victory. Oregon now has an FBS-best 22 rushes of at least 30 yards and finished the season a perfect 21-0 when they have at least one run of 30-plus yards in a game.

LaMichael James rushed for 159 yards and a touchdown, redeeming himself after totaling just 119 yards and no touchdowns in the Ducks’ last two BCS Bowl appearances. James now has 5,082 rushing yards, moving into second place on the Pac-12 career rushing list.

With the victory, Oregon has back-to-back 12-win seasons for the first time in school history. In fact, prior to last year, the Ducks had never won 12 games in any season.

Although Wisconsin ended up on the losing side, the Badgers were not without their own notable performances. Wisconsin's 38 points matched the Rose Bowl record for most points by a losing team, set by USC in its 41-38 loss to Texas in 2006.

Montee Ball scored his 39th touchdown of the season, tying Barry Sanders for the most touchdowns scored in a season. Russell Wilson threw for 296 yards including two touchdowns and finishes the season with a 191.8 passer efficiency rating, breaking the NCAA record set earlier this season by Robert Griffin III.

The Badgers' loss ensures that the Big Ten’s recent futility in the Rose Bowls continues. Since the 2000 season, Big Ten teams are just 1-8 in the game and have been outscored by an average of nearly 10 points per game.

Offenses on display in Rose Bowl

January, 1, 2012

AP Photo
Wisconsin's Montee Ball and Oregon's LaMichael James lead two high-powered offenses into Monday's Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio.
There are only three FBS teams that have a quarterback ranked in the top 15 of passing efficiency and a running back ranked in the top 15 of rushing yards per game. Two are in the Rose Bowl-- the Oregon Ducks and Wisconsin Badgers on ESPN at 5 PM Monday (the other is Baylor).

Although both offenses are high scoring and balanced, they employ drastically different styles of play highlighted by speed, power and efficiency.

Oregon Offense
Oregon spreads the field and beats opponents with speed and big plays. The Ducks average just over two minutes per touchdown drive and over the past two seasons have scored 86 touchdowns on drives of less than two minutes, most in FBS.

The Ducks average 296 rushing yards per game, but it is their ability to break long rushes that makes them so dangerous.

Entering the bowl season, Oregon led the country with 20 rushes of 30-or-more yards and is a perfect 20-0 over the past two seasons when breaking at least one run of 30-plus yards.

LaMichael James leads the nation in rushing yards per game, but Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas have also been reliable ground options for Oregon. The trio of running backs has combined for 2,995 rushing yards and 33 rushing touchdowns. They are most effective rushing outside the tackles, where the trio averages 9 yards per rush.

Quarterback Darron Thomas adds another element to Oregon’s explosive attack. He has excelled throwing downfield this season, completing about 50 percent of his passes thrown 15-or-more yards in the air, with 12 of those passes going for touchdowns. Wisconsin has allowed only 24 completions of at least 20 yards this season (tied for fourth in FBS), but two of those completions were last-second passes that ruined the Badgers’ national title hopes.

Wisconsin Offense
Montee Ball enters the Rose Bowl as FBS’s top individual scorer with 38 total touchdowns this season. He has accounted for at least two touchdowns in every game and is one touchdown shy of tying Barry Sanders’ record for touchdowns in a season.

He'll be a key to Wisconsin’s offense, which mixes speed and power behind a bruising offensive line. The Badgers move the ball down the field at a slower pace than Oregon, averaging 2:53 per touchdown drive, but find the end zone at a similar rate to the Ducks.

The Badgers have one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the nation in Russell Wilson, who has thrown a touchdown in an NCAA-record 37 straight games. Wilson and Baylor's Robert Griffin III are both on pace to break the single-season passing efficiency record held by Hawaii's Colt Brennan.

Wilson has been effective with both his arm and his legs. He keeps plays alive for the Badgers, averaging 9.5 yards per scramble. Like Thomas, Wilson is completing close to 50 percent of his passes 15 or more yards downfield.

Wilson is a huge factor in Wisconsin’s success, but the heart of Wisconsin’s offense lies in its run game. Look for Wisconsin’s offense to make use of two tight-end formations to get Ball in the end zone. All 32 of his rushing touchdowns came in multiple tight-end sets.

Stats of the Game
In 2009 and 2010, Oregon has averaged 143 fewer rushing yards, 127 fewer total yards and 26 fewer points in their bowl games than their regular-season games.

The Big Ten is 1-7 in its last eight Rose Bowl games with it only win coming when Ohio State beat Oregon two years ago.

AP Photo/Darren AbateRobert Griffin III finished a Heisman-winning season in thrilling fashion

The Alamo Bowl may not have the prestige attached to it of some of the traditional New Year's Day bowls, but there will be a lot of statistically-driven memories from the 2011 version in which Baylor overpowered Washington, 67-56.

The teams combined to set bowl records for combined points, touchdowns and yardage in a regulation game. The only higher-scoring bowl game in history was the 2001 double-overtime clash between Marshall and East Carolina, in which the teams combined for 125 total points.

One of the most notable individual marks came from a surprise source-- the five rushing touchdowns by Baylor's Terrance Ganaway tied a record for a bowl game, shared by Neil Snow (1902 Michigan against Stanford in the Rose Bowl) and Barry Sanders (1988 Oklahoma State against Wyoming in the Holiday Bowl).

Baylor finished with a six-game winning streak, its longest since 1985, and finished with a 10-win season for the first time since 1980. The Bears will be ranked in the final AP poll for the first time since 1986.

The Bears also broke the bowl record for most yardage by a team, surpassing the mark of 718 yards set by Arizona State in the 1972 Fiesta Bowl.

Washington quarterback Keith Price accounted for seven touchdowns (four passing and three rushing), which is an individual bowl record, as noted in the chart on the right.

Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III was overshadowed a bit by the work of his teammate. He finished the season with a pass efficiency of 189.5, breaking the FBS single season record that was previously held by Colt Brennan of Hawaii.

He'll wait to see how Russell Wilson (191.6) of Wisconsin fares in the Rose Bowl to see if he can stake claim to being the record holder for that stat at season's end.

Griffin III did complete 6-of-9 passes for 103 yards in the second half when Baylor was trailing. It was fourth straight win for the Bears in games that they trailed after halftime. Griffin's pass efficiency in the second half of games in which his team trailed was 211.2 this season, second-best in FBS behind Brandon Weeden's 212.3.

Griffin becomes the third straight Heisman winner to win a bowl game, joining Mark Ingram and Cam Newton.

It wasn't a surprise that the game was as high scoring as it was. Washington entered the contest 99th in the FBS in points allowed per game. Baylor was worse, at 109th.

Baylor had 10 plays that gained 20 yards or more, tied for its most such plays in any game since the start of the 2004 season.

Darren Carroll/Getty Images
The Texas Longhorns hope to be celebrating again tonight after a win in the Holiday Bowl.
Two college football programs that missed out on the bowl party last year will face off in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego tonight at 8 ET on ESPN.

The Texas Longhorns failed to qualify for a bowl last season for the first time under coach Mack Brown; the California Golden Bears didn’t play in the postseason last year for the first time since 2002.

The Longhorns are 8-4 in bowl games under Coach Brown, and since his first year in 1998, only two teams have more bowl victories: Georgia with 10 and Utah with nine. California has just 10 bowl wins all-time, though five of those have come under Bears coach Jeff Tedford since 2002.

California offense vs. Texas defense
Texas was carried this season by a defense that ranked first or second in the Big 12 in scoring, total and passing defense this season. However, in its last regular-season game, Baylor shredded that Longhorns defense, putting up the most total yards (511) and rushing yards (191) of any Texas opponent this season.

The Longhorns will be tested by a California offense that is excelling right now. Cal went 3-1 in November, losing only to Stanford by three points. During that month it ranked third in the Pac-12 in points per game (32.0) and second in rush yards per game (230.0).

The Bears' offense is powered by running back Isi Sofele, who is one of the most explosive rushers in the conference. Sofele had 21 rushes of 15 or more yards, the second-most in the Pac-12 behind only LaMichael James (33). Texas has allowed 19 carries of 15-plus yards, tied for third-fewest in the Big 12.

California also found success this season when passing on third down.

Quarterback Zach Maynard led the Pac-12 with a 139.4 pass-efficiency rating on third down.

He was at his best in his past two games when he was a combined 11-for-13 on third down with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Maynard will be challenged to repeat those performances by a Texas defense that ranked first in the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense on third down (86.7) and allowed the second-fewest yards per attempt (5.1).

Texas offense vs. California defense
As good as Texas was on defense this season, it was as bad on offense, ranking eighth out of 10 Big 12 teams in points scored and seventh in total yards.

The Longhorns really struggled when throwing the ball in the red zone, ranking last in nearly every red-zone passing category.

It likely won’t get any easier to score against a California defense that gave up the fewest red-zone passing touchdowns in the Pac-12 (9) and the third-fewest yards per attempt (3.8).

Stat of the game
This will be the 50th bowl appearance for Texas. The only school with more bowl appearances is Alabama, which will play in its 58th bowl when it takes the field for the BCS National Championship game on Jan. 9.

Moore may have been better for Boise State

December, 22, 2011

Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images
Kellen Moore is set to play his final game against Arizona State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.
The MAACO Bowl Las Vegas (8 pm ET, ESPN and ESPN3) will be the final collegiate game for Kellen Moore, who is second in FBS history in career touchdown passes (140) and fifth in passing yards (14,374). Moore’s 49 wins are the most all-time for an FBS quarterback.

After finishing fourth in Heisman voting last season while leading Boise State to its third straight 12-win season, Moore entered the season with high expectations.

One two-point conversion by TCU and a missed field goal by Boise State later, Moore was judged by what he was not able to achieve in 2011 rather than what he was.

Moore finished eighth in Heisman voting and Boise State was left out of a BCS bowl game despite finishing seventh in the final BCS standings.

While some of his statistical measures -- passing yards, yards per attempt and pass efficiency -- fell slightly in 2011, Moore may have had the best season of his career because of what he did with the players around him.

Boise State lost top receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Young to the NFL after last season. The duo combined for nearly half of the Broncos’ receptions in 2010. Moore adapted this season by spreading the ball to a variety of receivers.

Boise State was the only team in the nation to have 10 different receivers gain at least 125 yards and catch at least one touchdown this season. Moore targeted 16 different receivers on the season and completed at least 60 percent of his attempts to each one.

Last season, Moore led the nation with 20 touchdown passes of 20-plus yards, averaging 28 yards in distance and 21 yards in the air per touchdown. His success deep was largely a product of Young, who was targeted on 25 of Moore’s 36 passes thrown 25-or-more yards downfield.

This season, Moore changed his approach. He did not target any receiver more than five times on throws of 25-plus yards. His 41 touchdowns averaged 18 yards in distance and 12 yards in the air.

Moore attempted over half of his passes within five yards of the line of scrimmage, up from 39 percent last season (which translated to an increase of about four pass attempts per game). His receivers gained 1,518 yards after the catch (compared to 1,445 last season).

Despite losing Pettis, his top red-zone and third-down target in 2010, Moore did not skip a beat in those areas.

Moore ranked in the top three of FBS in completion percentage (73 percent), touchdowns (28), and touchdown percentage (51 percent) in the red zone this season.

He threw nine more touchdowns and one fewer interception on third down this season and raised his completion percentage nearly eight points.

If Boise State beats Arizona State in Las Vegas, the Broncos will have their fourth straight 12-win season. That would snap a tie with the Oklahoma Sooners (2002-04) for the most consecutive 12-wins seasons in FBS history.

On the other sideline, the Sun Devils need a win to avoid their fourth straight non-winning season, the longest streak in Tempe since a five-season stretch in the 1940s.

The 10 plays that shaped the CFB season

December, 6, 2011
There were 770 games played in the 2011 college football season. We give you the 10 plays that shaped the BCS Championship race.

1. Tyrann Mathieu returns fumble for TD
LSU 40, Oregon 27
Significance: These top-five teams were locked in a 6-3 game. The Tigers went three-and-out and punted, but Kenjon Barner fumbled the return at the three and LSU's playmaker snapped it up and went into the end zone for a momentum-shifting score.

2. Kirk Cousins completes 44-yard Hail Mary to Keith Nichol
Michigan State 37, Wisconsin 31
Significance: Wisconsin had its eyes on a perfect regular season and a spot in the title game. But after a last-second heave, ricochet, catch and then video review, that dream was dashed.

3. Oklahoma misses 28-yard field goal vs Texas Tech
Texas Tech 41, Oklahoma 38
Significance: The Sooners were preseason No. 1 and still undefeated, but trailed 31-7 at home. They mounted a comeback, but after Michael Hunnicutt's missed FG from 28 yards out there wasn't enough time left to overcome a 10-point deficit.

4. Tajh Boyd gets intercepted in the end zone
Georgia Tech 31, Clemson 17
Significance: Down 14 points, Clemson had just intercepted Georgia Tech, getting the ball at Georgia Tech's nine-yard line. But on the first play, Boyd was picked by Jemea Thomas, ending the Tigers' comeback and dashing their national-title hopes.

5. LSU’s Eric Reid intercepts Alabama at the 1-yard line
LSU 9, Alabama 6 (OT)
Significance: In a 6-6 game in the fourth quarter, LSU's Eric Reid wrestled the ball away from Alabama TE Michael Williams at the one-yard line for an interception, preventing what could have been the winning score. LSU would win it in overtime.

6. Boseko Lokombo picks off Andrew Luck and returns it for TD
Oregon 53, Stanford 30
Significance: This was Stanford’s last major obstacle to a perfect regular season. Down 16 points, Luck had Stanford driving. But the pick ended those hopes, putting the game out of reach and handing the Cardinal its only loss of the season.

7. Boise State misses 39-yard field goal as time expires
TCU 36, Boise State 35
Significance: Playing on the home turf where they had been dominant for so long, the Broncos went down a point after TCU made the gutsy call to go for two. But Boise drove down the field before Dan Goodale sailed his kick wide right as time expired and the Broncos were no longer unbeaten.

8. Brandon Weeden's pass intercepted in first play of second overtime
Iowa State 37, Oklahoma State 31 (2 OT)
Significance: The Cyclones came back from a 24-7 deficit to tie the game at 24 heading into overtime. But on the first play of the second overtime, Brandon Weeden was intercepted. Three plays later Iowa State scored to end Oklahoma State's dream.

9. Oregon misses 37-yard field goal as time expires
USC 38, Oregon 35
Significance: Even after their season-opening loss, the Ducks still had a shot at the BCS Championship. But USC, ineligible for postseason play, gave the Ducks a battle at Autzen Stadium. Down three, Oregon had the chance to send it into overtime. But Alejandro Maldonado missed a 37-yarder.

10. Robert Griffin III completes 34-yard TD pass with :08 left
Baylor 45, Oklahoma 38
Significance: Just like Oregon, Oklahoma still had a chance to sneak back into the title picture despite a loss. But Baylor's Heisman candidate Griffin shocked the Sooners with a game-winning touchdown pass with eight seconds left.

To see images of these plays, click here.
On Monday the five finalists invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony were revealed. This year has featured one of the most interesting races for the Heisman as no one player has stood from the rest.

Here's a look at what a Heisman Trophy win -- or loss -- would mean to these players and their respective schools.

Trent Richardson, Alabama
Two seasons ago Trent Richardson was a part of a National Championship team with a Heisman Trophy winner, when running back Mark Ingram became Alabama's first winner. Richardson has nearly identical numbers to Ingram this season, and has already totaled 23 touchdowns compared to Ingram's 20 TD's.

If Richardson were to win the award it would put him and Ingram in some rare company. In the history of the Heisman Trophy only three times have two different players playing the same position at the same school won the award in a span of three seasons. It last happened when USC QB Matt Leinart won it in 2004 after Carson Palmer had taken home the award in 2002.

Andrew Luck, Stanford
Luck is listed second here as he finished second for the Heisman last season and Stanford has actually had the Heisman runner-up in each of the past two seasons (Toby Gerhart, 2009).

If Luck wins he would be the second player in Stanford history to win the award (Jim Plunkett, 1970) and join 1981 Herschel Walker as the only Heisman runner-ups to win the award the next season.

If Luck finishes second, Stanford would set a record. No school has ever had a Heisman runner-up in three consecutive seasons.

Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Montee Ball earned his invite thanks to his impressive numbers. Ball needs one touchdown in the Rose Bowl to tie Barry Sanders' FBS record for touchdowns in a season (39). Sanders won the Heimsan trophy during that 1988 season.

The last time a Big Ten player had 25 touchdowns was Eddie George during the 1995 season. George went on to win the Heisman trophy that year.

Robert Griffin III, Baylor
RGIII finished off a great regular season in which he threw 36 touchdowns compared to only six interceptions, while also leading Baylor to nine wins, its most since the 1986 season.

Griffin's invite is an accomplishment in its own considering he plays for Baylor. The Bears have only had one player finish in the top five of the Heisman vote in school history. In 1963 Don Trull finished fourth.

If Baylor's Robert Griffin III wins the Heisman Trophy this year, he will be just the third player since the BCS was established in 1998 to win the Heisman without his team playing in a BCS bowl game.

Tyrann Mathieu, LSU
The Honey Badger will take the trip to New York looking to join Charles Woodson as the only defensive backs to win the Heisman trophy.

Despite being a defensive player, recent history is on Mathieu's side to take home the award. Since 2003, seven of the past eight Heisman Trophy winners have come from the team at number one in the BCS standings entering the National Championship Game.