Stats & Info: Justin Blackmon

Digging in to the AFC North draft strategy

April, 12, 2012
Stats & Information gets you ready for the NFL Draft at the end of the month with a look at the biggest need for each team. Today, we switch conferences to the AFC North.

Baltimore Ravens
Need: Secondary

The departure of Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura in the offseason makes finding an heir-apparent to aging safety Ed Reed a priority.

From 2008-2010, the Ravens ranked third among NFL defenses in lowest Total QBR allowed on passes that traveled at least 10 yards downfield. In 2011, the Ravens finished 23rd in the league.

While the Ravens finished second in the NFL with 72 passes defended last season, only 31 percent of those were on attempts thrown at least 10 yards downfield, 27th among NFL defenses.

Baltimore needs a safety to match up in coverage against the evolving NFL tight end. The Ravens allowed 2.4 yards after contact on passes to a tight end last season, ranking 30th in the NFL.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame

Cincinnati Bengals
Needs: Offensive line, secondary

Drafting a solid guard will complement young quarterback Andy Dalton and new running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The Bengals lost starting guards Mike McGlynn and Nate Livings to free agency in the offseason. Livings was one of two players on offense to play every snap last year.

The Bengals struggled to get any push from interior linemen in the run game last year, averaging only 2.0 yards before initial contact on runs inside the tackles, second-worst in the NFL.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: David DeCastro, G, Stanford and Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: David DeCastro, G, Stanford and Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

Cleveland Browns
Needs: Wide receiver, running back, offensive line

With Robert Griffin III likely off the board already, the Browns can still bolster their quarterback position by drafting a playmaker at wideout.

Colt McCoy finished right at the NFL average with 5.0 attempts per off-target throw last year -- better than Cam Newton, Matt Schaub and Tom Brady -- but got very little help from receivers on catchable passes.

The Browns were largely ineffective on the ground last year, finishing 31st in the NFL with 3.7 yards per rush. A replacement for Peyton Hillis would help, as would better run blocking up the middle and to the right. The Browns averaged just 3.4 yards when running to the right, worst in the NFL.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama and Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State and Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

Pittsburgh Steelers
Needs: Linebacker, Defensive Line

With the departure of key defensive players including Chris Hoke, William Gay, Aaron Smith and James Farrior, it’s time for the Steelers to replenish what has been a top defensive unit in football since 2008.

Pittsburgh linebackers tallied 15 tackles for loss in 2011, less than one per game, second-worst among NFL defenses at the linebacker position.

Defensive starters Casey Hampton, Brett Keisel and James Harrison will all be age 34 or older by mid-September.

Kiper’s 1st-Round Prediction: Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
McShay’s 1st-Round Prediction: Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama

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.
No. 4 Stanford takes on No. 3 Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl tonight (8:30 ET on ESPN), in a game featuring several of college football’s biggest offensive stars.

Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck won both the Walter Camp and Maxwell Awards for National Player of the Year, and the Cowboys Justin Blackmon won his second straight Biletnikoff Award as the best receiver in college football.

Both players have been outstanding this season when close to the goal line. In the red zone, Luck has completed 73 percent of his passes and accounted for 28 touchdowns without turning the ball over.

Blackmon leads the country with 29 red-zone receptions, 10 more than any other player in FBS. He also leads the nation with 11 red-zone touchdown catches.

The Cowboys offense isn’t just Blackmon though. Running back Joseph Randle has run for 25 touchdowns this season. In Big 12 history, only Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein this season and Ricky Williams during his 1998 Heisman season have run for more.

Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden is one of six quarterbacks in FBS with 40 red-zone touchdown passes over the past two seasons and his +37 touchdown-to-interception differential in the red zone is tied for third in that span.

Luck is at the top of that list, with 45 touchdown passes and one interception in the red zone since the start of last season.

The biggest weapons in Luck’s arsenal are his tight ends, whom he targets on 40 percent of his pass attempts, most of any quarterback with 100 attempts. Stanford’s tight ends have scored two or more touchdowns in nine of the team’s 12 games, including each of their past two.

Luck has thrown a touchdown in every game this season out of two-tight end formations, and the two losses to Oregon were the only games in the past two years in which he completed less than 50 percent of his passes with two tight ends on the field.

Numbers to Know
The Cowboys lead FBS with 22 touchdown drives that have lasted one minute or less, and their average touchdown drive of 1:46 is the shortest in the country.

Entering last year, each of these programs had exactly three 10-win seasons in its history, and neither had ever won 11 games. Now both schools have back-to-back 11-win seasons.

US PresswireLandy Jones (left) and Brandon Weeden (right) face off in the Bedlam game Saturday night.
The 106th edition of the Bedlam Series between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Oklahoma Sooners kicks off at 8 ET on ABC Saturday night with state bragging rights and the Big 12 Conference title on the line.

The third-ranked Cowboys also have an outside shot at a berth in the BCS Championship game if they can deliver a convincing win over the 10th-ranked Sooners combined with a loss by LSU to Georgia in the SEC Championship.

The Sooners have long been the big brother in this series with wins in over 75 percent of the matchups since 1904, including the last eight. How lopsided has this rivalry been? Oklahoma has 26 30-point wins in the series and Oklahoma State has just one.

If the Cowboys can overcome this historical precedent they have a chance to re-write their record books. Oklahoma State has never been to BCS game and hasn’t even won a share of a conference title since 1976, when they split the Big 8 title three ways with Oklahoma and Colorado.

Offense Rules
Don’t expect the scoreboard operator to get bored during this game. Not only are the Cowboys and Sooners ranked third and fourth nationally in total offense, but they also are two of the quickest-scoring teams in FBS.

Oklahoma State leads FBS with 20 touchdown drives that last one minute or less; the Sooners are fourth with 16. The Cowboys have scored at least one touchdown in under a minute in every conference game this season, and are one of two teams averaging fewer than two minutes per touchdown drive this season.

What to Watch For
One of the key matchups in this game will be in the red zone, where the Cowboys have scored 47 touchdowns this season (third-most in FBS). Oklahoma State frequently looks to air it out when inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, ranking fifth in FBS with 24 red zone passing touchdowns.

Much of the Cowboys’ success in the red zone can be traced to the prolific pass-catch combination of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon. Weeden and Blackmon have connected on a red zone touchdown in 17-of-23 games played since the start of 2010. Blackmon leads FBS with 11 red zone touchdowns and has eight more red zone touchdowns than any other receiver on the Cowboys.

The Sooners have allowed only 15 red zone touchdowns this season (tied for seventh-fewest in FBS) and just seven of those have come in the air. In their last four games combined, they’ve given up only three passing touchdowns in the red zone.

Numbers to Know
With a win, Oklahoma will have its 32nd 10-win season in school history, breaking a tie with Alabama for the all-time lead. Alabama earned its 31st 10-win season two weeks ago.

While double-digit wins aren’t anything new to these schools, there are others at the opposite end of the spectrum. Of the current 120 FBS schools, 12 have never had a 10-win season. The University of Indiana Hoosiers have the distinction of playing the most seasons without a 10-win campaign (124 seasons).

Analyzing the unbeatens: Oklahoma State

November, 16, 2011
After 11 weeks of football, there are three unbeaten teams remaining in the FBS. What makes these teams go? Do they have a weakness that will cost them a chance at an undefeated season? And what is each team’s toughest game remaining on the schedule? ESPN’s Statistics & Information Group will be answering these three questions for each of the three teams in a series that started Tuesday with the Houston Cougars.

Oklahoma State: 10-0 (7-0 Big 12)

What they do well: Oklahoma State's offense utilizes its speed to become the most lethal offense in the country. The Cowboys average just one minute and 49 seconds per touchdown drive and have scored 19 offensive touchdowns on drives lasting under a minute. Both of these numbers are the best in the country.

Thomas Campbell/US PresswireWeeden's Cowboys have scored at least 50 points in each of their last three games.

The Cowboys average over 51 points and six touchdowns per game, scoring a touchdown on 43.5 percent of their drives.

Quarterback Brandon Weeden is completing 73.1 percent of his passes while his receivers average 205.2 yards per game after the catch -- accounting for over half of the Cowboys passing offense.

Biletnikoff Award winner Justin Blackmon is back at it again this year, tied for the national lead with 14 touchdown receptions. His connection with Weeden truly separates the Cowboys from other teams in the nation.

Weeden is completing 74.4 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and just one interception when targeting Blackmon, and he has been even better when targeting Blackmon inside of the red zone (83.3 comp pct, 11 touchdowns, zero interceptions).

Area of concern: Oklahoma State allows 442.2 yards per game, which ranks 101st out of 120 teams in the country. Since 2004, only one BCS national champion was not ranked in the top 10 nationally in yards allowed per game (Auburn was ranked 60th in 2010).

Oklahoma State’s defense particularly struggles to stop the pass, allowing 256.1 passing yards per game (93rd in FBS). The Cowboys’ porous pass defense has been masked by the fact that they have forced more turnovers than any other team in the country.

Biggest hurdle remaining: Oklahoma State will face off with rival Oklahoma December 3 in a game that likely will have conference and national title implications. Oklahoma State has lost its last eight games against the Sooners, including a 47-41 loss at home last season that crushed the Cowboys’ Big 12 title hopes. In that game, Landry Jones passed for a season-high 468 yards and four touchdowns on the Cowboys’ defense.

If Oklahoma State is unable to stop the Sooners’ passing attack or get Justin Blackmon going, we could have “bedlam” not only in Stillwater, but in the BCS Standings with potentially seven one-loss teams in the top-10 behind an undefeated LSU. LSU by the way still has to play 9-1 Arkansas. More on that tomorrow.
Every Friday during college football season, we're taking fans' questions and answering them on our blog. You can send questions to our Twitter account @ESPNStatsInfo. Be sure to follow so you can tweet us your questions (facts, not opinions) and we'll answer the best of the best.

How many times has Brandon Weeden targeted Justin Blackmon and where does that rank?
-- asked by @Bmurphy47

Through Oklahoma State’s first four games this season, Weeden has targeted Blackmon 48 times, and the duo has combined for 38 catches, 450 yards and four touchdowns. The 48 targets are just over a quarter of Weeden’s 191 attempts.

Blackmon’s 38 receptions are tied for ninth in FBS. On a per-game basis, his 9.5 receptions per game are tied for fifth in FBS.

Syracuse had won seven straight decided by 1-7 points. Last five wins have been close. Who has longest streaks out there?
-- asked by @MattPark1

Rutgers snapped Syracuse’s seven-game winning streak in games decided by seven points or less with a 19-16 overtime win last weekend. The Orange’s streak was the second longest in FBS. Beginning with its Outback Bowl win over Northwestern at the end of the 2009 season, Auburn has won 10 straight games decided by seven points or less.

Syracuse joins Minnesota as the only FBS teams that have each of its last five victories by seven points or less. The last time the Golden Gophers won by more than seven points was Halloween 2009, an eight-point win over Michigan State.

With Florida going up against LSU, how have freshman QBs faired against No. 1 ranked teams in the past?
-- asked by @UFSanity

We went back through the last four years (just games between BCS AQ teams, to eliminate completely lopsided matchups). Eight freshmen played (six started) against No. 1 teams, all losses. Only EJ Manuel was able to complete more than half his passes, but Robert Griffin III did well on the ground against Oklahoma.

Offense on display in Alamo Bowl rematch

September, 8, 2011
Thursday’s rematch of the 2010 Valero Alamo Bowl between Arizona Wildcats and ninth-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys (ESPN, 8 ET) features two teams with prolific quarterback-wide receiver combinations.

Arizona’s Nick Foles led the nation in the first week of action with 412 passing yards and five touchdowns in a 41-10 blowout win over Northern Arizona. That is the fourth 400-yard passing game of Foles’ career. Only Case Keenum has more 400-yard games since the start of 2009.

Foles’ favorite receiver is Juron Criner, who caught six of the nine passes thrown to him for 151 yards and a touchdown in the season opener.

While Foles led the nation in individual passing yards in college football's initial week, Oklahoma State led the nation with 666 total yards when it won 61-34 over Louisiana-Lafayette.

Quarterback Brandon Weeden’s favorite target is Justin Blackmon, who has 13 straight 100-yard receiving games. Blackmon beat Arizona deep in the Alamo Bowl with a 72-yard touchdown reception, and he has the ability to break long plays more frequently than any other receiver in the country.

Since the start of 2010, no other receiver has more 20-yard touchdown receptions than Blackmon’s 12 of this distance. Weeden knows that he can just throw the ball deep and Blackmon will likely come down with it.

In order for the Wildcats to pull off the upset, they must fix several mistakes made in the Alamo Bowl, when they lost 36-10. Foles struggled to throw the ball downfield, completing 7-of-18 attempts thrown 10-or-more yards downfield with all three of his interceptions coming on throws of that distance.

When targeting Criner on downfield passes in the bowl game, Foles was 1-for-4 with one interception. Foles showed improvement on throws of 10+ yards in his first game of 2011 as he completed 8-of-12 passes for three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Weeden and Blackmon face different challenges as they prepare for Thursday. Weeden tied his career high with three interceptions versus Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday.

The offense did not look particularly sharp after the departure of offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen, and for the first time in 13 games Justin Blackmon did not catch a touchdown.

What's the best QB-WR combo in Big 12?

August, 19, 2011

AP Photo/Matt Strasen
The best QB-WR combo might not be decided until Dec. 3 in Stillwater when OSU hosts OU.

The Big 12 is stacked with talented quarterback-wide receiver combinations. Last season, five of the top 20 passing offenses played in the Big 12, and four of them – the Baylor Bears, Texas A&M Aggies, Oklahoma Sooners and Oklahoma State Cowboys -- return their starting quarterback and top wide receiver.

But which quarterback-wide receiver duo is the best in the Big 12? With all due respect to Baylor’s Robert Griffin III and Kendall Wright and Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill and Jeff Fuller, this conversation should not leave the borders of Oklahoma.

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have arguably the two best QB-WR tandems in the nation. In fact, all four players -- Landry Jones, Ryan Broyles, Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon -– have a serious chance at winning the Heisman based on their numbers last season.

Jones and Broyles thrive in Oklahoma’s quick pass, high-octane offense. Jones attempted more passes than any other quarterback in the country in 2010 and Broyles averaged an FBS-best 9.4 receptions per game.

Oklahoma was at its best when throwing quick screens and allowing its receivers to make plays in space. Of Broyles' 131 receptions last season, 51 were thrown at or behind the line of scrimmage. He averaged 10.0 yards after the catch on passes thrown that distance and did not drop a pass.

At Oklahoma State, Weeden and Blackmon did not connect on as many wide receiver screen passes, but they showed a similar propensity to turn short passes into long plays. When targeted at or behind the line, Weeden averaged 10.5 yards after the catch and 7.9 yards per reception. Those short passes added up, helping Blackmon to gain 100 or more receiving yards in every game he played last season.

Weeden and Blackmon were difficult to stop in the downfield attack as well. They combined for 12 touchdowns on plays of 20 or more yards (best of any QB-WR duo in the country) and averaged 32.1 yards per TD reception. On throws of 20 yards or more, Weeden completed 20 of 33 passes (60.6 percent) to Blackmon for 10 touchdowns.

Comparatively, when targeting Broyles on throws of 20 or more yards, Jones completed 11 of 23 pass attempts for five touchdowns in 2010. Broyles averaged 23.1 yards per TD reception and five of his 14 touchdowns were 20 yards or longer.

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State excel in different areas of the passing game. Oklahoma’s Jones and Broyles are efficient, completing passes that move the chains and lead to touchdowns. No other duo had more touchdowns the past two seasons. The Cowboys’ Weeden and Blackmon are more dynamic, converting more big plays downfield at a higher rate than any other duo in the country. No other duo had more touchdown plays of 10 or more yards last season.

Maybe the verdict on this one won’t be decided until the Sooners travel to Stillwater on Dec. 3 to meet the Cowboys.

For exclusive video, stories and blogs about quarterbacks from every level of competition, check out ESPN’s “Year of the Quarterback” page.

Will the Heisman spread across Oklahoma?

June, 9, 2011
This is the second of three posts breaking down quarterbacks who will likely be Heisman Trophy contenders in 2011. See also our posts on pro-style quarterbacks and dual-threat quarterbacks.

The last four quarterbacks to win the Heisman Trophy have all run the spread offense, making the state of Oklahoma fertile ground for Heisman candidates this season. Two of the nation's top spread-offense quarterbacks play there, separated by 80 miles of Interstate 35.

Landry Jones, Oklahoma Sooners
The blueprint for a pocket passer to win the Heisman is simple: put up big numbers and win games. With the Sooners projected to be one of best teams in the country, Jones will have a chance to achieve both.

Oklahoma is the top-ranked team in the College Football Live preseason poll and has a legitimate chance to reach the BCS National Championship. Eight of the last 10 Heisman winners played in the BCS title game.

Jones could lead the nation in many passing categories because of Bob Stoops’ quick-strike offense. In 2010, Jones attempted more passes than any other quarterback, and almost 28 percent of his pass attempts were at or behind the line of scrimmage.

These slants and screen passes allowed Jones to increase his yards and completion percentage on relatively easy passes. It also allowed his receivers to make plays and gain yards after the catch.

If Jones wants to take home the trophy, then he’ll have to improve his game away from Norman. Jones has struggled on the road in his two seasons, and Oklahoma’s 2011 road schedule is daunting. The Sooners will face Florida State, Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma State on the road, plus the annual Red River Rivalry against Texas in Dallas.

Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State Cowboys
If Weeden can replicate his 2010 performance, then he’ll put up the numbers necessary for Heisman consideration. Last season, Weeden ranked third in the nation in passing yards, and his career pass efficiency mark of 155.42 is fourth among active quarterbacks.

Yet Weeden may not even be the best bet for the Heisman Trophy on his team.

If he has a big year in 2011, then Biletnikoff Award winner Justin Blackmon probably will as well. In 2010, Blackmon was one of the best big-play receivers in the country and Weeden’s go-to guy on third down, in the red zone and when facing added pressure.

Weeden completed 56 passes that gained 20 yards or more last year, fifth in FBS. 24 of those passes went to Blackmon, 12 of which went for touchdowns.

When throwing the ball at least 20 yards in the air during conference play, Weeden completed 10-of-16 passes when targeting Blackmon, but only 9-of-22 when targeting other receivers.

Weeden should be praised for utilizing his greatest asset, but his reliance on the dynamic receiver may make Blackmon the stronger Heisman candidate.

Receivers who could contend for Heisman

June, 6, 2011
Only two wide receivers have won the Heisman Trophy (1987 Tim Brown, 1991 Desmond Howard). In 2011, there are three who could emerge as contenders.

Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina
The 6-foot-4-inch junior burst on to the national scene last season with 1,517 receiving yards. More impressive was the fact that he dropped just one pass.

In 2010, Jeffery had 88 receptions and 61 of them gained at least 10 yards. There have been only five instances over the past five seasons when a receiver had at least 70 receptions and gained 10 yards or more at a higher rate. Compare that to former Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green, the fourth pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. He gained 10 yards or more on just 56 percent of his receptions last season.

Jeffery’s production is helped by a dynamic teammate who keeps defenses honest, running back Marcus Lattimore. In 2010, South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia completed 84 percent of his passes -- and averaged 19.6 yards per completion -- when targeting Jeffery after a play-action fake. Those numbers could go even higher this season as respect for Lattimore grows. (Lattimore will be featured in our look at running backs on Tuesday.)

Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
He returns to Oklahoma for his senior season to, he said, "win more championships and break every record possible as a receiver.” As a junior, he hauled in an NCAA-best 131 passes.

This season, Broyles’ numbers could be mind boggling.

Last season, he averaged more than nine catches per game and did not drop one ball. In his last two seasons, Broyles has 29 touchdown receptions, 20 of them have been for 10 yards or more. Both figures are tops in college football.

There are two obstacles for Broyles to overcome. Oklahoma’s running game could be a question mark with the loss of leading rusher DeMarco Murray. Also, Broyles isn’t the only Heisman candidate on Oklahoma: QB Landry Jones (who will be featured on Thursday) finished second in FBS last season with 38 touchdown passes. The only receiver in the last decade to finish in the top five of Heisman voting ahead of his quarterback was Larry Fitzgerald in 2003.

Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
The word that comes to mind to describe Blackmon on the field is monster. He's a nightmare for defensive coordinators with his ability to turn screen plays into big gains, and also beat a secondary down field.

Last season, Blackmon averaged 10.8 yards on receptions made at or behind the line of scrimmage. He also caught 63.6 percent of passes that targeted him 15 yards or more downfield. The ability to turn any throw into a big gain helped Blackmon lead FBS last season in receiving yards per game.

What could possibly haunt Blackmon in 2011? He dropped five passes last season, which may not seem like a lot. But it is when you consider that Jeffery had just one drop last season and Broyles had none.
Five things to know about the Valero Alamo Bowl pitting No. 14 Oklahoma State against Arizona, on ESPN at 9 ET from San Antonio.

1) Oklahoma State won 10 regular-season games for the first time in program history and recorded 10 wins overall for the first time since 1988, when Barry Sanders won the Heisman. Now the Cowboys aim for their first 11-win season.

Arizona is trying to win at least eight games in three straight seasons for the first time since joining the Pac-10. The last time the Wildcats did it was 1973 to 1975, when they were in the WAC.

2) Oklahoma State’s offense can move quickly. The Cowboys have 47 touchdown drives this season of more than 60 yards, third most in the FBS, and 16 of those have been in under a minute and a half, the most in the nation.

3) Justin Blackmon is having one of the greatest receiving seasons in FBS history and is on the verge of an impressive record. He has had at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown in all 11 of his games this season (he sat out the Kansas State game due to suspension), which is tied for the longest streak all-time, with Aaron Turner of Pacific (1990-1991).

Blackmon is also just seven yards shy of Larry Fitzgerald’s NCAA record for receiving yards by a sophomore (1,672 in 2003).

He has 20 receiving touchdowns this season, and 11 of them have been from more than 20 yards out. Those 11 are the most in the FBS.

When Brandon Weeden sees pressure from Arizona, he’ll probably look for Blackmon, who is targeted more than any other Oklahoma State receiver when defenses blitz Weeden. He connected on 86 percent of his pass attempts thrown Weeden's way on blitzes, 61 percent of passes thrown to others.

4) Arizona began the season with a 7-1 record, but lost four straight to end the year. In the first eight games of the season, Arizona outgained its opponents on the ground by 64 yards per game. In the last four games, the Wildcats were outgained by an average of 133 yards.

5) Arizona quarterback Nick Foles really excels when he slings the ball downfield on first down. He’s 10-for-19 throwing the ball 20 or more yards in the air on first down, with five touchdown throws. But on second and third down, in the more obvious passing situations, he’s just 5-for-22 with one touchdown on those deep throws.
1. Virginia Tech, 6-0 in the ACC, plays at Miami on Saturday. If the Hokies can beat the Hurricanes, then knock off Virginia on Nov. 27, they'll be the first team to go undefeated through ACC play since Florida State in 2000. That's by far the longest drought for any conference in the FBS. The second-longest belongs to Conference USA, which hasn't had a team go unbeaten through league play since Louisville in 2004.

2. Oklahoma State wideout Justin Blackmon is having one of the greatest receiving seasons in FBS history and is currently streaking toward a record. Blackmon has had at least 100 receiving yards and a TD in all nine of his games this year (he sat out the Kansas State game due to suspension), which is the second-longest such streak all time. Starting in November of 1990 and continuing through November of 1991, Aaron Turner of Pacific (which has since dropped football) had 11 consecutive games with at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown. Blackmon can make it 10 in a row this week against Kansas, the nation's 101st-ranked pass efficiency defense.

3. Currently, the Sun Belt Conference has only one team with a winning overall record. Troy is 5-4 with three games remaining, one of which is against SEC East champ South Carolina. All other Sun Belt teams have at least five losses, making it possible that the conference might not have a team finish the regular season with a winning record. No conference has gone an entire regular season without a team boasting an overall winning record since the ACC in 1964. That year, five ACC teams finished with 5-5 records and none went to bowl games. NC State won the title at 5-2 (5-5 overall).

4. Ohio State fans will be placed in the uncomfortable position of rooting for Michigan on Saturday against Wisconsin. A Badgers' loss greatly helps the Buckeyes' chances of capturing the Big Ten crown and returning to the Rose Bowl. But that's asking Michigan to do something it has never done under Rich Rodriguez -- beat a Big Ten opponent that will finish the year with a winning conference record. Under Rodriguez, Michigan is 0-10 against Big Ten teams that finished with a winning conference record (including Michigan State and Iowa this season). In fact, Michigan’s six conference wins in the last three seasons have come against teams that are a combined 12-31 in Big Ten play (including 2010 current records).

5. Much has been made of Wisconsin “running up the score” this past week against Indiana. It’s also a common accusation against non-AQ teams such as Boise State, which has won its games by an average of 34.8 points this season. But a look at Boise State’s scoring shows that the Broncos don't run up the score. In fact, they do their best not to. BSU has scored a total of 41 points this year in the 4th quarter, which accounts for just 9.6 percent of the team's scoring. That's by far the lowest 4th-quarter scoring percentage among the unbeaten teams.

Justin Blackmon better than Dez Bryant

November, 10, 2010
As good as Dez Bryant’s 2008 season at Oklahoma State was, Justin Blackmon’s 2010 year with the Cowboys has been better. Bryant’s banner sophomore year saw him finish tied for second in the nation in receiving touchdowns (19) and third in the FBS in receiving yards per game (113.8). And his 1,480 receiving yards were the second most in school history.

But Blackmon is on pace to shatter those marks. Despite his one-game suspension this season against Kansas State, he still leads the FBS with 1,285 receiving yards, which translates to a staggering average of 160.6 per game. He’s never had a game this year with fewer than 125 receiving yards, and has at least one visit to paydirt via a reception in every game played in 2010.

Blackmon looks even more impressive when you compare him to one of the best single-season receiving performances in recent memory. In 2007, Texas Tech freshman wideout Michael Crabtree took the sport by storm, compiling 1,962 receiving yards (a Big 12 single-season record) and 22 touchdowns. That equates to nearly 151 yards per game, a pace that Blackmon is ahead of through eight contests.

Oklahoma State has four remaining games this year, including a bowl game. That means Blackmon is on pace for roughly 1,927 yards this season, which would fall just short of the conference record.

If he continues his pace of nearly 161 receiving yards per game, however, he’ll set a new mark in that regard. Essentially, Blackmon’s one-game suspension will likely keep him just short of staking claim to the best receiving season in Big 12 history.