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Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Which QBs had the top games in Week 3?

By Sharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Info


AP PhotoJoe Southwick and Blake Bell were among the best performers of the past week.
Week 3 of the 2013 college football season will largely be remembered for Alabama’s 49-42 victory against Texas A&M in what became a matchup of two high-powered offenses.

Texas A&M gained 628 total yards and 31 first downs against Alabama, but Johnny Manziel’s two interceptions – each of which dropped Texas A&M’s chances of winning by 12 percentage points – proved too costly for the Aggies to overcome.

For a complete analytical breakdown of Alabama’s victory against Texas A&M, see Analytics Specialist Alok Pattani’s description here.

As significant as Alabama’s win was for the national title race, there were 61 other games involving FBS teams this week. Of those games, which individual and team performances were most impressive?

Best Individual Performances
Taylor Heinicke (99.5 Total QBR) of Old Dominion posted the highest Total QBR of Week 3 after throwing for 406 yards and accounting for five total touchdowns against Howard.

Heinicke helped Old Dominion set a new school record in points (76) in only its third game as a transitioning member of the FBS.

Joe Southwick (98.8 Total QBR) had a career-high Total QBR in Boise State’s 42-20 win against Air Force on Friday. It was the highest Total QBR by a Boise State quarterback in the last 10 seasons, and 1.2 points higher than any game recorded by former Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore.

Marcus Mariota (97.5 Total QBR) recorded his third straight game with a Total QBR of 97 or above in Oregon’s victory against Tennessee. In the last 10 seasons, Mariota is the first player (minimum 20 action plays per game) to open the season with three straight games with a Total QBR of 97 or above.

Blake Bell (96.7 Total QBR) threw for 413 yards and four touchdowns in Oklahoma’s 51-20 win against Tulsa. Bell’s 96.7 Total QBR was the highest by an Oklahoma quarterback since Sam Bradford posted a 99.0 against Baylor on Oct. 4, 2008. Bell proved to be more than a goal-line “Belldozer” by adding the fourth-most expected points on passing plays of any FBS quarterback in Week 3.

Blake Bortles (94.8 Total QBR) threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns in UCF's 34-31 upset win at Penn State. Bortles converted 5-of-6 passes on third down, including two touchdowns, and completed a career-high six passes of 20 yards or longer against the Nittany Lions.

Best Team Performances
Offense –- Florida State: After trailing 7-3 to Nevada early in the second quarter, Florida State scored 59 straight points to end the game, including 45 points on eight second-half drives. The Seminoles’ offense added 31 expected points in the second half, the most by any team in the last 10 seasons.

Defense –- Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are normally known for their offense, but on Thursday, their defense held TCU to 10 points and contributed about 16 net points toward their 10-point margin of victory.

Texas Tech stopped TCU on 15 of its 18 third- or fourth-down chances and forced a punt or turnover on all six of the Horned Frogs' first-half drives.

Special Teams – Vanderbilt: The Commodores lost 35-25 to South Carolina on Saturday, but it could have been a lot worse if not for their special teams unit. Vanderbilt’s special teams added about 15 expected points, the most of any team in a game this season.

Overall, Vanderbilt started its drives 20 yards closer to the end zone than South Carolina did largely because of two fourth-quarter fumbles forced by its special teams unit.

Deeper look at final play of Arizona State-Wisconsin
In potentially the strangest play of the season, Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave attempted to center the ball on the Arizona State 15-yard line with about 15 seconds remaining to set up a game-winning field goal attempt. The Arizona State players covered the ball, claiming that Stave was not down and therefore had fumbled.

Although officials ruled Stave down, the ball was not set in time for Wisconsin to spike the ball, stop the clock and attempt a field goal. Just how much did that play cost the Badgers?

In the last 10 seasons, the FBS average conversion percentage on 32- or 33-yard field goal attempts is 76 percent. Accounting for the slim chance of a kickoff return touchdown or turnover, Wisconsin had a 72 percent chance of winning the game prior to Stave’s two-yard loss.

Therefore, as time ran out, Wisconsin’s chance of winning fell from 72 percent to 0 percent, the second largest swing for any play this season behind only the 75-yard rush touchdown by Ole Miss against Vanderbilt to take the lead in the fourth quarter (75 percent swing).

Wisconsin must regroup before taking on Purdue (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC), No. 4 Ohio State and No. 18 Northwestern in the next three weeks.

For a complete explanation of ESPN’s new CFB storytelling metrics, click here.