Thursday, October 28, 2010
Nickel Package: AP No. 1 Oregon at USC
1. When USC hosts Oregon on Saturday, the Trojans will end the AQ-conferences' second-longest active drought without facing the No. 1 team in the AP poll. It will be the first time since 1992 that USC has taken on No. 1.
Only Purdue has a longer span without doing it, and the Boilermakers would've ended their drought last weekend if Ohio State hadn't lost to Wisconsin the week before.
NOTE: South Florida is the only AQ-conference team to have never faced an AP No. 1 opponent, but the Bulls didn't start playing football until 1997, didn't become a member of the FBS until 2001 and didn't join an AQ conference until 2005.
2. Last season on Halloween night against No. 4 USC, the Oregon offense racked up 613 yards of offense, including 25 plays that gained 10 yards or more. Since ESPN Stats & Information began tracking this statistic in 2004, that's one of only three times it's been done against a top-10 team. (The other two were in consecutive weeks in 2008 by the Texas Tech offense, first with 25 against No. 1 Texas, then with 27 against No. 8 Oklahoma State.) The bad news for USC is that its defense hasn't gotten any better. Earlier this month, the Trojans allowed 22 such plays in a loss to Washington and 21 in a loss to Stanford. They also gave up 24 of them in their season-opening win over Hawaii.
3. Missouri will attempt to beat an AP-ranked team in consecutive games for the first time since 1973. Since then, there have been 24 times that the Tigers have faced ranked opponents in consecutive games (sometimes three straight) without ever winning two in a row. In 1973, Missouri beat 19th-ranked SMU, and then knocked off 2nd-ranked Nebraska in consecutive games.
4. Almost every week this season has been filled with questions about what's wrong with Florida's offense. One answer is first-down production. Last year, Florida led the nation in average yards gained on first down with 7.8. This year, the Gators rank 119th (out of 120 FBS teams) in that same category, averaging a mere 3.9 yards. The only team worse is Rice at 3.8.
5. After taking last week off, Michigan plays at Penn State this week in a game that's very important to both teams. Over the last eight seasons, Big Ten teams are just 25-35 coming off a bye. The only flaw in that stat however, is that Michigan is 5-0 off a bye during this stretch - by far the best record in the conference. Even when the Wolverines won only three games in 2008, one of them came against Wisconsin, immediately following the team's only open date that season.