Stats & Info: Louisiana Tech

McCarron, Miller among the best in Week 9

October, 29, 2013

AP Photo/Paul VernonsBraxton Miller was at his best against Penn State.
Week 9 featured blowouts and surprises; the top four teams in the BCS Standings won by a combined 144 points, yet No. 7 Miami needed a fourth-quarter comeback against Wake Forest to remain undefeated. South Carolina had a comeback of its own against No. 5 Missouri; the Gamecocks’ win probability fell to 2.8 percent before they scored 17 straight points to send the game to overtime.

With the help of ESPN’s new college football metrics (see explanations here), ESPN Stats & Information takes a look back at the best individual and team performances of Week 9.

Best Individual Performances

AJ McCarron had a Week 9-high 97.4 opponent-adjusted QBR in Alabama’s 45-10 win against Tennessee. McCarron completed 9-of-12 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter. The Tide led 21-0 and had a 91 percent chance of winning after the first 15 minutes of play.

Blake Bortles posted a 97.0 opponent-adjusted QBR in UCF’s 62-17 win against Connecticut. Bortles had career highs in completion percentage (83.3 percent), touchdowns responsible for (five) and raw QBR (98.3) in that game.

Braxton Miller had a 95.7 opponent-adjusted QBR in Ohio State’s 63-14 win against Penn State. Miller threw for a career-high 252 yards and accounted for five touchdowns. This season, Miller leads the Big Ten in completion percentage (70.6 percent), third-down conversion percentage (45.7 percent) and opponent-adjusted QBR (80.4).

Jameis Winston had a 94.8 opponent-adjusted QBR in Florida State’s 49-17 win against North Carolina State. He now has an opponent-adjusted QBR of 90 or higher in each of his past four games, the longest active streak in the FBS.

Explaining Garrett Gilbert’s QBR

SMU’s Garrett Gilbert had 635 yards of total offense against Temple, the seventh-most by any player in FBS history. However, Gilbert’s opponent-adjusted QBR was ONLY a 84.9. Why?

First, Gilbert faced a Temple defense that was allowing a 68.3 Total QBR entering the game, third worst among BCS automatic qualifying conference defenses. As a result, Gilbert’s QBR fell almost 10 points when adjusted for the defense that he faced. Further, Gilbert started slow, holding a 58 Total QBR midway through the second quarter when the Mustangs were trailing 28-7. In the second half, he had a 99.2 Total QBR as he led SMU to a 59-49 victory.

Best Team Performances

Offense--Ohio State gained 686 yards and scored nine offensive touchdowns against Penn State. The Buckeyes added 42.8 expected points on offense, their most against an FBS opponent in the last 10 seasons. In terms of offensive EPA, Ohio State has two of the top four offensive outputs of the season.

Defense-- USC held Utah to three points and forced four turnovers in its 19-3 win. The Trojans contributed 31.1 expected points on defense and -13.5 expected points on offense and special teams combined. That means that if USC had an average defense (EPA = 0), and everything else remained the same, the Trojans would have lost by about two touchdowns.

Special Teams-- Louisiana Tech kicker Kyle Fischer made all five of his field goal attempts in Louisiana Tech’s 23-7 win at Florida International. Fischer’s five field goals were tied for the most by a player this season. Louisiana Tech punter Logan McPherson also had two punts that pinned Florida International inside of its own 15 yard line, including a punt downed at the Florida International 1 in the first quarter.

Looking ahead to Florida State vs Miami (FL)

No. 3 Florida State hosts No. 7 Miami (FL) (8 pm ET, ABC) in a top-10 matchup with plenty of history. It is the 13th time in series history that the two will meet with both in the Top 10, but the first such meeting since 2004.

This season, Florida State ranks second in offensive EPA per game and Miami ranks 12th in defensive EPA per game. However, the teams have been trending in opposite directions in their past four games.

Florida State’s average margin of victory in its past four games is 36.5 points, including two wins over ranked opponents by a combined 100 points. In those games, Winston has a 94.8 opponent-adjusted QBR, which leads the FBS during that time.

On the other hand, Miami has needed fourth-quarter comebacks against North Carolina and Wake Forest to remain undefeated. In each of those games, the Hurricanes’ win probability fell below 25 percent in the second half.

Further, Miami has had at least four turnovers in three of its past four games and has allowed 39 points off turnovers during that time.

Pac-12 rises to 2nd despite Oregon loss

November, 19, 2012
Despite two of its top five teams losing on Saturday, the Pac-12 has passed the Big 12 in the Stats & Info Conference Power Rankings.

The biggest difference between the Pac-12’s losses and Kansas State’s loss to Baylor is that Kansas State lost to an unranked opponent. As a result, Baylor did not pick up any of the 387 AP votes that Kansas State lost. In comparison, Stanford and UCLA gained a combined 308 AP votes and rose five spots in the AP poll with their victories. Those numbers cancel out Oregon’s fall from 1st to 5th in the AP Poll.

The Big 12 continues to be ranked first by the computers, but its lack of top-level teams has hurt the conference in the AP Poll. Both the Big 12 and Pac-12 have four teams ranked in the AP Poll, but the Pac-12’s teams are ranked comparatively higher.

Whether it is a matter of parity or a lack of top-level talent is unknown, but many of the Big-12’s top teams have been wildly inconsistent throughout the season.

West Virginia began the season 5-0 and ranked in the AP Top 5 before losing its next five games. Texas Tech began the season 6-1 before losing three of its next four games. Finally, Texas struggled at the start of conference play and has now won four straight games. This lack of consistency has led to fluctuations in the polls and the conference rankings.

Elsewhere in the conference power rankings, the SEC remains in first place after wins over seven FCS teams this week. The SEC now has five teams ranked in the AP Top 10 and six teams with two or fewer losses. No other conference has more than one team ranked in the AP Top 10 or four teams with two or fewer losses.

The WAC lost 5.9 points in the rankings after its top team, Louisiana Tech, lost on Saturday. Louisiana Tech was 9-1 entering the game and had a chance to represent the conference in a BCS Bowl game. The MAC, led by 10-1 Kent State and 10-1 Northern Illinois, has pulled within 1.9 points of the WAC for the top non AQ conference in the country.

Rivalry week begins on Thursday as nonconference foes face off with bragging rights on the line. Florida takes on Florida State, Notre Dame heads to USC, South Carolina faces Clemson and Georgia takes on Georgia Tech in notable nonconference matchups with BCS Bowl implications.

Cougars BCS hopes dashed

December, 3, 2011
Conference USA's first-ever BCS invitation may have to wait for another year. The Houston Cougars, the sixth-ranked team in the country entering Saturday's contest, was upset by No. 24 Southern Miss, ending what had been a dream season for Kevin Sumlin and the Cougars, 49-28.

In a rematch of the 2006 Conference USA Championship Game - in which Houston won 34-20 - the Golden Eagles limited the Cougars' potent offense from the start of the game. Entering Saturday, the Cougars had played 48 quarters this season and had been held scoreless in just four of them. Houston was held scoreless in the first and last quarters against Southern Miss and never got back on track as they did in other games in which they were held scoreless in the first quarter - they scored 35 against Louisiana Tech, 49 against UTEP and 73 against Tulane...but just 21 on Saturday.

Everything went wrong for Houston in a loss that marked the second time an undefeated non-AQ team lost its conference championship game, joining Ball State's loss to Buffalo in 2008. The Cougars entered averaging 52.7 points per game; they finished with 28. They entered allowing 20.9 points per game and allowed 49 points, their most since allowing 59 to Southern Miss in their second-to-last game last season. Overall, Southern Miss held Houston to season lows in points, total offense and plays of 20+ yards in the Conference USA Championship Game.

Case Keenum entered having thrown 43 touchdowns to just three interceptions; he threw two interceptions on Saturday, including his first in the red zone since Sept, 18, 2010. It was his only game this season where he didn't throw more touchdowns than interceptions. Perhaps more pertinent, he averaged just 5.6 yards per attempt on Saturday, compared to 10.1 on the season.

Ronnie Thornton's interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter made it eight total interceptions returned for a touchdown this season for Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles now hold the FBS record for most interceptions returned for touchdowns in a season. They entered the game tied at seven with UL Lafayette this year and the previous record holder, Tennessee which set the mark in 1971. Southern Miss' win was also its first at Robertson Stadium since 2003. They were 0-3 there since.

• Cincinnati took care of business on Saturday against Connecticut, improving to 5-2 in the Big East. However, West Virginia has likely clinched the Big East's automatic BCS bid. The selection will come down to a three-way tie between West Virginia, Cincinnati, and Louisville. As of this week, West Virginia was the only team ranked in the Top 25 of the BCS Standings.

Boise State Broncos on path to perfection

October, 26, 2010
Boise State continues its run through its WAC schedule, hosting Louisiana Tech on the blue turf in Bronco Stadium at 8 ET on ESPN2. The Broncos have won each of the last eight meetings by an average score of 43-20, but last year posted just a 10-point victory, 45-35.

In that game, Boise State saw its 20-point halftime lead cut down to a 30-28 advantage early in the fourth quarter, before the Broncos added two late scores to seal the win. The Bulldogs were one of just three teams pull within at least two points of Boise State in the fourth quarter during its undefeated season.

This year, the Boise State offense has been built around efficiency, putting up points on 59 percent of its drives while reaching the end zone 47 percent of the time. Its success in sustaining drives has been key to maintaining this scoring efficiency. The offense has gone three-and-out just 2.6 percent of the time – helped by its 7.9 yards per play average on first down – and has gained positive yardage on 77.5 percent of its plays this season.

The Broncos also bring the nation’s top-ranked total defense into this matchup, allowing just 210 yards per game, and the second-best scoring defense, giving up only 12.3 points per game. Its aggressive at the line of scrimmage and in the backfield has been an integral part of its dominance on the defensive side of the ball. The team is averaging 8.5 tackles for loss, the fourth-highest mark in the nation, and 44.3 percent of its opponents’ plays have resulted in zero or minus yardage, which ranks second-best in FBS.