Stats & Info: Alabama

Alabama wins record-setting Iron Bowl

November, 30, 2014
Nov 30
12:44
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The ending wasn’t quite as memorable as the 2013 Iron Bowl, but it was certainly a record-setting Iron Bowl that will go down in history.

Top-ranked Alabama tied an Iron Bowl record by scoring 55 points. The Crimson Tide also scored 55 points in a 55-0 win over Auburn in 1948.

The two teams combined for 99 points, setting an Iron Bowl record for combined points. They also combined for an Iron Bowl-record 1,169 yards.

There were plenty of offensive stars in this game, but perhaps the star of stars was Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper, who set an Iron Bowl record with 224 receiving yards.

The 224 yards tied Cooper’s own school record for any game. He also set a school record with his 14th career 100-yard receiving game.

Cooper wasn’t the only stud receiver in this game. Auburn's Sammie Coates had 206 receiving yards, the second most in Iron Bowl history.

Alabama quarterback Blake Sims struggled early with three interceptions, but after his third interception, he completed 10 of 12 passes with three passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown.

In the loss, Nick Marshall set a school record with 456 passing yards.

The 44 points for Auburn are the most Alabama has ever allowed in a win.

The Tide will try to repeat the success of the past five Iron Bowl winners: Each of those five reached the national championship game, and four of the five won the title.

First, the Tide will face Missouri next Saturday in the SEC championship game.

McCarron ready to take it to the next level

April, 26, 2014
Apr 26
12:15
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John Reed/USA TODAY SportsAJ McCarron hopes that his success at Alabama translates to the NFL.

AJ McCarron had an illustrious career at Alabama and was quite possibly the most prolific quarterback to wear the Crimson Tide uniform. As the winningest quarterback in Alabama history, McCarron looks to take his talents to the next level and continue his career in the NFL.

In preparation for Jon Gruden’s QB Camp with AJ McCarron, below is an in-depth breakdown of McCarron’s greatest strength, his main area of improvement in 2013 and a cause for concern.

Strength: Accuracy
Over the last two seasons, McCarron threw 10 interceptions on 650 pass attempts. His 1.5 percent interception rate was only bested by Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota and Teddy Bridgewater among quarterbacks with at least 15 starts across 2012 and 2013.

Not only was McCarron among the most accurate in FBS during his career, but he also holds the Alabama record of 291 passes without an interception, which he accomplished in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

It’s also worth noting that Crimson Tide receivers dropped 19 catchable balls thrown by McCarron last season, according to STATS LLC. That was the sixth-highest mark among all SEC quarterbacks.

Biggest improvement: Blitz recognition
As a junior, McCarron took 17 sacks when opponents brought five or more pass rushers, fourth-most among quarterbacks from BCS automatic-qualifying (AQ) schools. McCarron was sacked on 15 percent of his dropbacks facing added pressure. He reduced that total to only eight during his senior season.

Although McCarron’s completion percentage when facing this type of pressure decreased by three percentage points from 2012 to 2013, he improved his yards per attempt by 1.5 yards despite his average target depth decreasing by 1.3 yards.

McCarron has also learned to use his checkdowns when facing pressure. McCarron threw 16 touchdown passes against the blitz last season, third-most among BCS-AQ quarterbacks behind only Jameis Winston and Sean Mannion.

Cause for concern: Has McCarron hit his ceiling?
Across the board, McCarron’s passing statistics have regressed since his junior season. McCarron’s decline was glaring on his deep passes.

On passes of 15 or more yards downfield, McCarron’s completion percentage dropped from 58.8 percent in 2012, which led all BCS-AQ quarterbacks with at least 25 such attempts, to 43.1 percent last season. He threw three interceptions on those deep passes in 2013, after throwing none in his junior year.

McCarron takes advantage of A&M blitz

September, 14, 2013
9/14/13
9:32
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Alabama’s grudge match against Texas A&M lived up to the hype.

Despite a valiant effort by Johnny Manziel and the Aggies, the Crimson Tide held on to win their 22nd straight SEC opener, the longest active streak for any FBS team.

Alabama improves to 8-1 in “revenge” games under Nick Saban, with its only such loss coming in 2011 against LSU.

Alabama’s 42 points allowed are the most the Tide have allowed in a win in school history. It’s the most they’ve allowed in any game since Tennessee scored 51 in 2003.

Alabama's 49 points mark the most points scored by an AP No. 1 team in a road win against a top-10 team since Florida State won 51-31 at No. 3 Michigan in 1991.

Texas A&M offense puts up big numbers

Manziel broke his own Texas A&M record for most passing yards in a game with 464.

Manziel had a career-high six completions on passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield. In two games against Alabama, Manziel has completed 71 percent of passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield, compared with 36 percent against all other teams.

Despite Manziel putting up record numbers, he posted the third-lowest raw QBR of his career (74.0). Not taking opponent strength into account, his only worse performances were against LSU and Florida last season. His three worst raw QBRs are also the only three losses of his career. And two of his four worst raw QBRs came against Alabama.

Texas A&M’s Mike Evans had 279 receiving yards, the most in Texas A&M history. It’s the most by an Alabama opponent since LSU’s Josh Reed had 293 yards in 2001. Evans’ performance was highlighted by a 95-yard touchdown reception from Manziel in the fourth quarter -– the second-longest passing play in Texas A&M history -- to pull the Aggies within a touchdown. It was the longest passing play against Alabama in the last 10 seasons.

AJ McCarron's career night

AJ McCarron had a career-high 334 passing yards and matched a career high with four passing touchdowns.

McCarron posted a 93.8 QBR, the second-highest raw QBR of his career (not adjusted for opponent strength). His only better performance came in a win against Auburn last season.

McCarron threw all four of his touchdown passes when facing five or more pass-rushers. All five of McCarron’s touchdown passes this season have come against the blitz. Since the start of last season, McCarron has thrown 17 touchdowns with one interception against five or more pass-rushers.

Alabama's new o-line has big shoes to fill

August, 19, 2013
8/19/13
10:31
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Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsThe expectations for Cyrus Kouandjio are high in 2013.
Alabama’s chances for a second-straight BCS Championship were starting to look bleak. The Tide trailed Georgia 21-10 with 6:31 remaining in the third quarter of the SEC Championship. The Bulldogs had just returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown and had the momentum on their side.

Normally in this situation, a team would put the ball in the hands of their superstar quarterback. Alabama did the opposite. It turned to its power running game, led by one of the most dominating offensive lines in college football history.

The line featured the same starters for all 14 games last season: D.J. Fluker (11th overall pick by the Chargers), Chance Warmack (10th overall pick by the Titans), Barrett Jones (fourth round pick by the Rams and the 2011 Outland Trophy winner), Cyrus Kouandjio (No. 4 on Mel Kiper’s Big Board for the 2014 draft) and Anthony Steen.

Steen might be the most unheralded of the group, but according to TideNation’s Alex Scarborough, he was the only one that did not commit a penalty or allow a sack last season.

Behind these five men, the Tide ran on 20 of its next 22 plays, gaining 167 yards and scoring two touchdowns. It was old-school power football at its finest.

On the 23rd play, Georgia played a single high safety to help protect against the run. Alabama went play action. The result was a 45-yard touchdown pass from AJ McCarron to Amari Cooper. The Tide never trailed again all season.

The OL’s impact:
When asked about his team’s performance in the SEC Championship, Fluker said, “we just said, ‘We can’t be stopped and are going to run the ball down their throats,' and that’s what we did today.”

As Fluker noted, Alabama’s running game was unstoppable. The Tide averaged 5.6 yards per carry last season, sixth best in FBS. They gained at least five yards on a FBS-high 49.2 percent of their rushes and had a SEC-high 107 carries that gained at least 10 yards.

The line’s direct impact on the running game is difficult to quantify, but there is no denying that they opened massive holes in opposing defenses. Alabama’s running backs averaged an SEC-high 4.1 yards per rush before first contact and were not touched until at least five yards past the line of scrimmage on 34.6 percent of their carries.

It was not only the running backs that benefited. AJ McCarron led the country in passing efficiency in part because he had 13 touchdowns and no interceptions when throwing off play action.

More importantly for McCarron, the line held up in pass protection. Alabama allowed a combined 53 quarterback hurries and knockdowns, 15 fewer than any other SEC school.

Big changes for the OL in 2013:
(LT) Cyrus Kouandjio and (RG) Anthony Steen are the only two returning starters from last season’s offensive line.

The Tide have several options to put beside Kouandjio and Steen. Ryan Kelly appeared in nine games and was on the 2012 SEC all-freshman team. Arie Kouandjio, Cyrus’ older brother, appeared in 10 games, as did Austin Shepherd. Kellen Williams is a senior, who has seen action in 17 games during his career.

Another potential starter is Leon Brown, a junior college transfer, who was rated No. 50 in the Rivals.com JUCO Top 50 for 2012. None of them have started a game at Alabama.

The task of converting these players into a cohesive unit falls to new offensive line coach, Mario Cristobal. Cristobal was the former head coach at Florida International and was an offensive tackle at the University of Miami from 1989 to 1992.

Alabama’s reconstructed line will be tested right out of the gate.

In Week 1, Alabama faces a Virginia Tech defense that ranked in the top six of FBS in both negative plays forced and quarterback pressures (hurries + knockdowns).
Tags:

NCF, SEC

Seven signees that will impact 2013 season

February, 8, 2013
2/08/13
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Zuma Press/Icon SMNotre Dame's Greg Bryant (with ball) is a 2013 signee than can make an immediate impact this fall.
Signing day has come and gone and with much of the ESPN 300 having made their college decisions, we look at seven signees from the 2013 class that can make an immediate impact next fall:

RB Greg Bryant, Notre Dame
Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick are gone, leaving a vacancy in the backfield and over 300 carries to go around. Bryant is the first top-10 running back the Irish have signed since James Aldridge in 2006. Notre Dame posted a respectable 4.9 yards per carry as a team last season and will return three starters on the offensive line. With returning dual-threat quarterback Everett Golson, Bryant should have plenty of room to work.

QB Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
Matt McGloin threw for eight touchdowns and 5 interceptions in 2011. He had the same amount of picks last season, but led the Big Ten in both yards (3,271) and touchdowns (24) through the air. The difference? Coach Bill O’Brien, who tailored his offense to McGloin’s skills. Hackenberg's No. 1 ranking indicates his physical tools and with O’Brien’s help, will likely be put in a position to succeed.

ILB Reuben Foster, Alabama
Is Alabama the new hotbed for talented linebackers? Nick Saban is certainly making a case for it. Under Saban, the Tide’s marquee linebackers have all been in the running for the Butkus Award (nation’s top linebacker). With Nico Johnson heading for the draft, Foster could very well step in next to C.J. Mosley to solidify the front seven on one of the most dominant defensive units in the FBS.

WR Robbie Rhodes, Baylor
Terrance Williams and Lanear Sampson are leaving Waco, but the Bears will still be running their wide-open offensive scheme and need playmakers on the outside. Losing Williams is huge, as no player in FBS had more receiving yards than he did last season. But Rhodes is the highest-rated player the Bears have signed since the ESPN 150 began in 2006, and he is the first top-10 receiver they have signed as well.

RB Derrick Green, Michigan
Fitz Toussaint’s status for 2013 is unknown following ankle surgery and by the end of last season, Denard Robinson was getting a majority of the carries at running back with Devin Gardner at quarterback. Green is the highest-ranked running back prospect to head to Ann Arbor in the history of the ESPN 150, and without Robinson or a healthy Toussaint, the Wolverines backfield should have plenty of carries up for grabs.

ATH Greg Taboada & TE Eric Cotton Jr., Stanford
There is not a school in the country which has relied on its tight ends more than Stanford in recent seasons. Like Coby Fleener before them, Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo are headed for the NFL draft and the Cardinal are looking for help at a vital position in their offense. The last top-20 tight end that signed with Stanford was Davis Dudchock in 2010, but he has yet to catch a pass in his collegiate career. Cotton is a pure tight end, while Taboada projects at either tight end or as a pass rusher - which is another position the Cardinal value, as the FBS leader in sacks last season.

Alabama powers its way to SEC title

December, 1, 2012
12/01/12
11:09
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John David Mercer/USA TODAY SportsEddie Lacy ran for 181 yards for Alabama.
Alabama won its first SEC Championship since 2009, handing Georgia an SEC Championship game loss for the second straight season.

The Tide got it done on the ground. They ran for 350 rushing yards, the most in SEC Championship game history.

Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon became the first teammates to each run for 100 yards in SEC Championship game history. Lacy’s 181 rushing yards are the third-most in the history of the SEC title game.

The Tide were committed to the run, as they ran the ball 51 times, two shy of the SEC Championship Game record of 53.

Two tight ends, too much

Alabama ran 36 times for a season-high 298 yards with two or more tight ends in the formation. The Tide ran out of this personnel package on 26 of their 34 second-half plays, gaining 199 yards and two touchdowns. Alabama averaged a season-high 5.5 yards before contact out of this formation.

AJ McCarron completed eight of nine passes for 114 yards and a touchdown with two or more tight ends in the formation.

Getting it done inside the tackles

Alabama outrushed Georgia 304-72 inside the tackles. The Tide averaged 8.0 yards per carry on such runs, including a season-high 13 that gained 10 yards or more. Lacy (172) and Yeldon (125) led the way for Alabama, with both running backs gaining over 100 yards inside the tackles for the second time this season. They also did it against Missouri.

Strong run game leads to play action

McCarron completed five of seven passes off play action for 116 yards and a touchdown. McCarron has 11 touchdown passes off a run fake this season, six more than he had all of last season. Eight of the 11 touchdowns have been on passes thrown 20 yards or longer, including Cooper’s 45-yard touchdown against Georgia.

Georgia’s defense allowed a season-high 512 total yards, just the second time the Bulldogs allowed 500 yards in the last seven seasons. For the first time since at least 2000, they’ve allowed 300 rushing yards in three straight games.

Alabama will most assuredly face Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game on January 7, as the SEC goes for its seventh straight BCS National Championship.

SEC duo may top AP Poll for first time ever

August, 17, 2012
8/17/12
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The release of the preseason AP Poll officially means college football is right around the corner. This weekend's release does have some drama attached, as Alabama, LSU and USC each have claims to being ranked preseason No. 1. Here are some things to look for when the poll is released on Saturday:

• If Alabama and LSU are No. 1 and No. 2, it would be the fifth time (and first since 1987) where the Top-2 teams in the preseason poll came from the same conference. In all four previous instances, neither team ranked first or second went on to win the national title. Alabama and LSU would be the first SEC schools to accomplish the feat.

• In the Coaches' Poll, Alabama, LSU and USC had 20, 18 and 19 first-place votes, respectively. In the history of the preseason AP Poll, only once have three teams been separated by two first place votes. That came in 1955 when No. 1 UCLA had 33, No. 2 Oklahoma had 32 and No. 3 Michigan had 34. Since 1960, there has never been a preseason poll in which three different teams received at least 15 first-place votes.

• There is a chance the SEC could have as many as five teams ranked in the Top 10. If that happens, it would mark the first time a conference ever had five Top-10 teams in a preseason AP Poll. The Big Ten came close in 1959, with five teams ranked in the Top 11.

• Who will be the highest ranked team in the preseason that did not finish 2011 ranked? Texas is the most likely team to fit this mold in 2012. Dating back to 2004, four of the eight teams finished the year unranked, with only Oklahoma in 2010 and Michigan in 2006 posting Top-10 finishes.

• Being preseason No. 1 hasn't guaranteed a great finish lately. The last preseason AP No. 1 to finish the year ranked first was USC in 2004 and in three of the last four years, the preseason AP No. 1 team has actually finished 10th or worse.

• If Oregon and USC are both in the preseason Top 5, it would mark the first time the Pac-12 has ever had two Top-5 teams in the preseason poll.

• Michigan may begin the season ranked in the Top 10 for the first time since 2007. That year, Michigan lost to Appalachian State in its season opener.

• Boise State (46 weeks) and Stanford (23 weeks) have the longest active streaks of being ranked in the Top 10 but both will likely end with the release of the 2012 preseason poll. The new leaders in consecutive weeks ranked in the Top 10 will likely be Alabama and LSU (Both enter 2012 with 17 straight weeks ranked in Top 10).

• Notre Dame has been unranked in six of the last 10 (and seven of the last 12) preseason polls. From 1950-1999, Notre Dame was unranked only five times in 50 years. After being ranked to begin 2011, Notre Dame is looking to be ranked in consecutive preseason polls for the first time since 1998-1999.
The latest BCS standings lead to some interesting scenarios for the final week of the regular season. Let’s take a quick look from a historical perspective for each of the top four teams in the standings.

Be wary, LSU
LSU enters the final week of the regular season at No. 1 with some under the impression that no matter the result of Saturday’s SEC Championship Game, the Tigers will be headed to the BCS Championship game.

LSU should beware of an upset though. Over the past four seasons, three of the four teams at No. 1 in the BCS standings lost in their conference championship game. None of the teams to lose ended up making the championship game.

However there is precedent for the top team in the BCS standings losing in its conference championship game, but still making the BCS Championship game.

In 2003, Oklahoma lost in the Big 12 title game to Kansas State. However, the Sooners stayed at No. 1 in the next releasing of the BCS standings and played in the BCS Championship Game.

This season LSU will face No. 14 Georgia. That season Oklahoma faced No. 15 Kansas State.

LSU is in good position to go wire-to-wire as BCS No. 1. They are the sixth team to go through the first seven weeks as No. 1 in the standings. Five teams have gone all the way through all eight releases, the last being Ohio State in 2006.

Being idle is OK for Alabama
Though Alabama is idle next weekend and Oklahoma State has a chance to make a statement in a top-10 BCS matchup against Oklahoma, don’t expect the Tide to be lower than No. 2 in the BCS next weekend.

Since the BCS began in 1998, five previous teams have been ranked in the top two of the BCS and not played the last week of the regular season. All five went on to play for the BCS title game, meaning none were “jumped” while idle.

If Alabama reaches the title game as expected, the Tide would be just the third team to do so despite not winning their conference in the BCS era. The other two to do so: Nebraska in 2001 and Oklahoma in 2003. Both lost in the BCS Championship Game.

Oklahoma State move still possible
It is unlikely, but not unprecedented, that Oklahoma State could move up from its No. 3 position. Four times the No. 3 team entering the final week went on to play in the BCS Championship Game, most recently with Texas in 2009. The Longhorns jumped because of a loss by No. 1 Florida.

Oklahoma State has a chance to make a statement with a win over rival Oklahoma, which is No. 10 in the BCS standings. This will mark the sixth regular-season BCS top-10 matchup this season, the second-most in any season in the BCS era. The only season featuring more BCS top-10 regular-season matchups was 2008 (seven).

Stanford’s chances slim-to-none
Does Stanford have a chance to enter the BCS National Championship Game picture despite having finished its regular season?

Three idle teams ranked outside the top two of the BCS entering the last week of the regular season moved into the top two without playing. None won the national title: Florida State in 1998 (ranked No. 4), Nebraska in 2001 (ranked No. 3) and Ohio State in 2007 (ranked No. 3).
Tags:

NCF, Big 12, SEC

The 2011 USA Today Preseason Coaches' Poll was released late Thursday morning with the Oklahoma Sooners taking the top overall spot. This is the first time Oklahoma is the preseason No. 1 in the poll since 2003, a season in which they reached the BCS National Championship game before falling to LSU. The team finished third in the coaches' poll that season.

However, the Sooners do not have recent history on their side - the last team to open up the season No. 1 in the coaches' poll and finish the season No. 1 was USC in 2004.

One challenge the Sooners will have to overcome in order to stay No. 1 will be performance on the road. Specifically, the performance of quarterback Landry Jones.

Jones was much more effective at home during the 2010 season - he had a 37-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio at home compared to 27-to-20 on the road. The team's first road test will be on September 17 at Florida State, with other notable road/neutral games including Texas on October 8, Baylor on November 19 and Oklahoma State on December 3.

Beyond The Top Spot
The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame made the largest jump of all teams inside the top 20, going from unranked and 36th in receiving votes to No. 18 in the preseason poll. Three other teams jumped 10 or more spots based on their final ranking from the previous season, including Texas A&M and Florida State, both of whom jumped into the top 10.

On the other hand, three of the final top five teams from the final coaches poll last season dropped by more than 10 spots. Auburn fell 18 spots down to 19th, the largest drop for any team. That's thanks in part to returning only three starters on each side of the ball. It is the lowest debut for a defending national champion since USA Today began administering the coaches' poll in 1991. Meanwhile Ohio State found itself 16th in the preseason poll and TCU sits 15th after finishing No. 2 last season.

Alabama, which picked up 13 first-place votes, comes in at No. 2 and will once again be relying heavily on the running game to stay there. The team lost starting running back and former Heisman Trophy-winner Mark Ingram to the NFL and will now turn to Trent Richardson to pick up where he left off.

Thankfully, Richardson proved himself to be effective last season - perhaps more effective than even Ingram himself. Richardson was superior to Ingram in his yards per rush figures from virtually every angle; rushing inside the tackles (Richardson' 5.0 to Ingram's 4.7), rushing outside the tackles (7.8 to 6.5) and even yards after contact (2.7 to 2.4).

After completing fewer than half of his passes that were thrown in the air 10 yards or more in 2009, LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson's deep passes regressed even further in 2010.

Jefferson is going to have to improve his deep touch if the Tigers are going to overcome of the nation's toughest schedules.

That schedule features an opener against Oregon, trips to Alabama, West Virginia, Mississippi State and home dates against Florida, Arkansas and Auburn. In other words, it will be a challenge for the Tigers to remain in the top five all season long.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Big East failed to place a team in the preseason Top 25 for the second time in three seasons.

However, a lot can change between now and January - just ask defending champion Auburn as it was ranked No. 23 in the 2010 Preseason Coaches Poll.
1. Alabama (18 straight games) and Nebraska (12 straight) are each carrying long streaks of allowing 21 points or fewer. How impressive is that? No other FBS team has a streak longer than four games. Two other teams, Rutgers and West Virginia, have done it in every game this season. But both of those teams have played four games and their streak does not extend into last season.

2. Urban Meyer and Les Miles both started their SEC coaching careers in 2005, and Meyer is one of the few FBS coaches with a better record than Miles since that time. When you factor in the 2007 BCS title, Meyer and Mack Brown are the only two coaches who have been inarguably more successful than Miles during this stretch.

NOTE: Boise State's Chris Petersen began in 2006, so he doesn't make the list.

3. It's not often that Alabama and San Jose State are mentioned in the same sentence, but that is the case this week. The Spartans will join the Crimson Tide as the only FBS teams to have played four ranked opponents after this weekend. San Jose State travels to No. 21 Nevada this week after having already lost to ranked teams Alabama, Wisconsin and Utah.

4. Denard Robinson became just the second player with two 200-yard rushing and passing games in the same season, joining Vince Young in 2005. It was Young's final season and he led the Longhorns to the national title. Robinson's numbers through 5 games are better than Young's that season.

5. On Saturday, Georgia will attempt to avoid its first five-game, single-season losing streak since 1953. Pretty amazing considering that every other current SEC team has had at least one such losing streak since then, including some perennial powerhouses. A bit of trivia … other than Georgia, which current SEC schools have the fewest five-game, single-season losing streaks since 1953?

Answer: Auburn and Tennessee with one each.
A quick preview of tonight's college football action:

UAB at Central Florida, 8 ET on ESPN
• Three of UAB’s four games this season have been decided on the last play

• Central Florida has won six of seven all-time meetings

• UAB lost double-OT heartbreaker to Tennessee last game

• Conference opener for UCF: they’re carrying a six-game conference win streak

Let's also take a moment and recognize the coaching class of 2007. Seventeen coaches took the reins of programs that year and many are enjoying great success so far this season.

1. This weekend’s Florida-Alabama game features two of the longest conference winning streaks in SEC history. Alabama has won 17 straight, while Florida’s streak is at 16. The winner of this game still has work ahead of them to catch the all-time mark, held by Alabama from 1976-80 (27 straight). (NOTE: The SEC Championship Game doesn’t count as a conference game for official records purposes).

2. This is the eighth time since 1940 that a No. 1 team has faced a top-10 opponent in consecutive weeks (Alabama beat No. 10 Arkansas last week). On the previous seven occasions, only one No. 1 team lost the second game: Texas in 2008 (beat No. 7 Oklahoma St, lost at No. 6 Texas Tech).

3. This is the first time since the Pac-10 Conference’s inception in 1959 (formerly called AAWU) that the conference has had four 4-0 teams ranked this high in the AP Poll at this point in the season. Oregon, Stanford, Arizona and USC are all 4-0 and are all in the top 18.

4. Texas and Oklahoma resume hostilities in the Red River Rivalry this Saturday (3:30 ET, ABC). Not only does the winner earn bragging rights in the Big 12 South, but recent history proves it almost always goes on to have the better season. Consider this: the winner of this game has gone on to have a better record (or the same record once) in 10 of the last 11 meetings. And in six of the last 11 meetings, the winner has gone on to win the Big 12 Championship Game.

5. The round-robin competition for the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy begins this Saturday when Navy takes on Air Force. The Midshipmen have won 15 straight games against service academy teams dating back to their win over Army in 2002 (last loss was Oct. 5, 2002 at Air Force). Navy's current dominance is unprecedented since the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy’s inception in 1972.

McElroy, pistol effectiveness key vs. Hogs

September, 24, 2010
9/24/10
10:00
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No. 10 Arkansas has four wins all-time against top-rated football teams, and it will get a crack at its fifth at 3:30 ET on Saturday afternoon when it hosts Alabama. Here's a look at some of the statistically significant storylines that will come into play for the weekend's marquee matchup, with the help of the folks who do our weekly video review work.


In 2009, Alabama's offense scored a touchdown on just 47.5 percent of its red zone trips, ranking the offense 108th in the nation. Quarterback Greg McElroy encountered struggles of his own in the red zone last season, mustering only a 35.0 percent completion rate, sixth-worst in the FBS. So far in 2010, it appears McElroy has turned the page on last season's struggles, and is poised to be a better red zone passer.

BRINGING BACK THE PISTOL
Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram are running wild out of the pistol formation this season. (In the pistol offense, the quarterback is not under center, but also closer to the center than a traditional shotgun snap. The running back then lines up behind the quarterback).

Sara D. Davis/AP
Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson have found multiple ways to be effective so far in 2010.




Ingram and Richardson have averaged 11.8 yards per rush, with seven rushes of 15 yards or more, in the 28 times they've run via the pistol. They've averaged just under five yards per carry in the 20 runs from other formations.

ALABAMA'S BACKS ARE PHYSICAL
Arkansas' ability to wrap up and tackle will be a major factor in its ability to stop the Alabama running game. Both Ingram and Richardson have gained almost half of their yards this season after contact with a defender. Of their 422 total rushing yards, 195 (46 percent) came after contact.

RAZORBACKS RELY ON PLAY-ACTION
It will be important for Arkansas to establish a running attack early in the game so that Ryan Mallett can use a run fake to set up his downfield passes. He's 7-for-10 throwing the ball 15 yards or longer on play-action, but just 5-for-15 throwing it that long without play action.

Mallett led all FBS quarterbacks with 32 completions of 30 or more yards in 2009. He's off to the races again this season with nine such completions already.

TIDE MAKING BIG GAINS
Alabama's offense is off to a roaring start in 2010. Alabama has more big plays this season than any other offense and has them more frequently than any other team.

Alabama has 24 plays of 20 or more yards and has gained at least 20 yards on 12.6 percent of its offensive plays, both best in the nation. McElroy's pass attempts have gained at least 20 yards 21.7 percent of the time, which leads the FBS.

Nickel Package: Notre Dame's bad luck

September, 23, 2010
9/23/10
2:50
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1. All of the preseason top 8 teams are still unbeaten, and Alabama (at Arkansas) is the only team out of that group that isn't a double-digit favorite this week. If all are victorious, it will be only the second time that the preseason top 8 have gone undefeated into October. The first time was 1952, when the season opened on Sept. 27. Even then, one of the teams had a tie on the first weekend.

2. You'd think it would take Nick Saban more than three-and-a-half seasons in Tuscaloosa to equal any of Bear Bryant's accomplishments there, but he's now a win away from a fairly significant one. Going back to last season, Alabama has been ranked No. 1 in the last six AP polls. Believe it or not, that’s just one shy of the school record for consecutive weeks at No. 1, achieved by Bryant's teams in both 1979 and 1980.

3. Here are a few eye-popping numbers on Joe Paterno's tenure as Penn State head coach. Since he took over that job in 1966, there have been 876 head-coaching changes in major-college football. Twenty-two active head coaches in the FBS weren't even born then. And, in Penn State’s game against Kent State last Saturday, Beaver Stadium attendance during Paterno's time as head coach surpassed 23 million (23,098,439 to be exact). That's more than the population of Australia.

4. Even with an Irish head coach, Notre Dame hasn't been able to improve in the luck department this season. After back-to-back tough losses to Michigan and Michigan State, ND now has eight straight defeats by seven points or fewer - the longest active streak in the nation. That's one more than Iowa, which had some tough luck of its own last weekend at Arizona.

5. A Michigan win Saturday against Bowling Green would make the Wolverines 4-0 for the second straight season. Even before recently falling on rough times, back-to-back 4-0 starts wasn't exactly a common occurrence in Ann Arbor. The last time Michigan started consecutive seasons at 4-0 was 1995-97. Before that it was 1985-86, and then 1976-78 prior to that. In other words, it happens about once a decade.
With two weeks of the 2010 college football season here and gone, ESPN Stats & Info takes a look at where the various FBS conferences stack up at this point of the season.

The rankings system uses a formula that equally weighs the rankings from the USA Today Coaches' poll and a compilation of available computer ratings.

What might be the most notable item from these rankings is both the ACC and Big East rank behind the Mountain West and WAC.



• After a rough weekend in which all four of its ranked teams lost – The Miami Hurricanes, Virginia Tech Hokies, Florida State Seminoles and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets – the ACC finds itself as the seventh-best conference. Of those teams, only Miami is still ranked in the Top 25.

• The Big East is way behind the other five automatic qualifying conferences. Big East teams are a combined 3-6 this season against FBS schools and the three wins came against Florida International, Akron and Marshall.

• In the USA Today Coaches' Poll, the Boise State Broncos have more voting points (1,269) than the entire ACC and Big East conferences combined (949). For that reason alone, the WAC is ranked ahead of both the ACC and Big East.

• Despite being ranked fifth by the computers, the Big Ten comes away with the second overall ranking. A convincing win by the Alabama Crimson Tide over the Penn State Nittany Lions helped keep the SEC ahead of the Big Ten.

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