Stats & Info: Miami Hurricanes

Instant impact recruits for 2014

February, 5, 2014
Feb 5
National Signing Day has come and gone, and most ESPN 300 recruits have finalized their college decisions. Here are some notable recruits that could make an instant impact in their freshman seasons.

Myles Garrett, Texas A&M (No. 4 in ESPN 300; No. 1 Defensive End)

Texas A&M’s defense last year ranked last in the SEC in most categories including points per game, yards per game and yards per play. The Aggies did not win a game in which it scored fewer than 40 points. Garrett, the top player in the state of Texas, could have an immediate impact to help shore up that defense. He’s the highest-ranked player Texas A&M has signed since the ESPN began recruiting rankings in 2006.

Leonard Fournette, LSU (No. 1 in ESPN 300; No. 1 Running Back)

Fournette is considered the best player in the Class of 2014 after rushing for over 1,800 yards as a senior. On paper, the Louisiana product is a perfect fit as a downhill back in LSU’s system. He also fills a need. The Tigers lost 64 percent of its rushing output from last season with the departures of several running backs including Jeremy Hill. If Fournette lives up to his ranking, you can pencil him into the 2017 NFL Draft after his junior season. Over the last two seasons, 18 LSU players have declared early for the NFL Draft, most among all schools.

Raekwon McMilllan, Ohio State (No. 13 in ESPN 300, No. 1 Inside Linebacker)

Ohio State’s defense struggled down the stretch in 2013 as the quality of opponent improved. The Buckeyes allowed at least 34 points in each of its final three games against Michigan, Michigan State and Clemson. With the departure of linebacker Ryan Shazier, who led the Buckeyes in tackles and tackles for loss by a wide margin, there is an opening at linebacker. Five-star recruit McMillan is physically ready to play at the next level at just under 250 pounds, and as an early enrollee, he has extra time to get ready for a prominent role next season.

Racean Thomas, Auburn (No. 28 in ESPN 300; No. 5 Running Back)

Auburn broke its school rushing record last season, racking up 328.3 rush yards per game. Heisman Trophy finalist Tre Mason left for the NFL Draft, so Gus Malzahn’s run-first offense has a void at running back. Enter Thomas, a well-rounded running back recruit from Oxford, Alabama. The only other top-50 running back Auburn has signed since 2006, Michael Dyer, helped lead Auburn to a national title as a true freshman.

Chad Thomas, Miami (FL) (No. 65 in ESPN 300; No. 6 DE)

Over the last two seasons, Miami has struggled to stop the run. In that time frame the Hurricanes are last in the ACC in rushing yards allowed (196.4 per game), yards per rush (4.7) and 10-yard rushes (151). Miami also lost several defensive linemen to graduation. Thomas is an athletic product of nearby Booker T. Washington High School and may be counted on to play an early role.

Andrew Brown, Virginia (No. 5 in ESPN 300; No. 1 Defensive Tackle) and Quin Blanding (No. 10 in ESPN 300, No. 1 Safety)

Virginia surprised many by signing two five-star defensive players despite having just one winning season in the last six years. Virginia’s biggest issue on defense last season was allowing too many big plays. No ACC team allowed more 20-yard plays than the Cavaliers (69). Brown and Blanding are the two highest-ranked Virginia signees since ESPN began rankings in 2006 and are considered ready to contribute right away.

The bowl winners will be ...

December, 19, 2013
With bowl season upon us, we can project the winners of the 35 Football Bowl Subdivision bowl games using the Football Power Index.

FPI is a predictive measure of team strength that uses the elements of team offensive, defensive and special-teams performance (adjusted for opponent) that correlate most with future results.

We can use each team’s FPI and the site of the game (all bowl games are treated as neutral) to calculate the expected point differential in a matchup and the percentage chance of each team winning.

In prior years, FPI has done reasonably well in projecting bowl winners (taking the team with the higher chance as the “winner”), getting about 65 percent of games right since 2004.

There have been some lean years in the past, but FPI has been quite good in the three most recent bowl seasons, accurately projecting 70 percent of winners in those games.

FPI takes into account only a team’s on-field performance to date in the given season. It doesn’t explicitly take into account players who are out with injuries or for other reasons, coaching movement before the bowls or differing levels of motivation that are sometimes thought to exist in bowl games.

In the 2013 regular season, starting with games on Sept. 26, FPI accurately projected 74 percent of winners.

FPI believes there to be a very clear favorite (80 percent or more to win) in four of the five BCS matchups, with Ohio State and Clemson as the most evenly matched BCS opponents.

The projections for all 35 bowl games this season are below. A couple of things that stand out:

The two most-lopsided matchups, according to FPI, involve a Pac-12 team facing a Big 12 opponent from Texas. FPI has Oregon as 91 percent likely to defeat Texas in the Valero Alamo Bowl and Arizona State as 91 percent likely to beat Texas Tech in the National University Holiday Bowl.

The most-even matchup, according to FPI, is Kansas State versus Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, with the teams separated by a little more than a point in FPI (the Wildcats are 53 percent favorites). The closest “high-profile” bowl game is the AT&T Cotton Bowl between Oklahoma State and Missouri, with the Cowboys 54 percent likely to win, according to FPI.

The Vizio BCS National Championship is the only bowl game with both teams ranked in the top 10 in FPI. Three other games involve two FPI top-20 teams: Wisconsin-South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl; Oklahoma State-Missouri in the Cotton Bowl and Ohio State-Clemson in the Discover Orange Bowl.

Is Miami this year’s Notre Dame?

November, 1, 2013

Robert Mayer/USA TODAY SportsMiami has needed 4th quarter comebacks in its last two wins to remain unbeaten.
No. 7 Miami (FL) enters its Week 10 matchups with No. 3 Florida State undefeated and looking to jump into the BCS National Championship conversation.

The Hurricanes needed two fourth-quarter comebacks in their last two games in order to remain undefeated. In both of those games, they had less than a 25 percent chance of winning at one point in the fourth quarter, according to ESPN’s win probability model.

Miami’s win against Wake Forest was its third win by seven or fewer points, which brings up the question, “Could Miami be this year’s Notre Dame?”

Last season, Notre Dame won five games by seven points or fewer en route to its 12-0 record entering the BCS National Championship.

The Fighting Irish had a difficult schedule, but also failed to dominate some of their lesser opponents. Notre Dame’s average margin of victory against its unranked FBS opponents was 18.6 points compared to 35.9 for Alabama last season.

Further, their average in-game win probability ranked ninth in the FBS entering the BCS National Championship, meaning that despite winning all of their games they were not dominant in those wins. In-game win probability measures the chance that a team has of winning across all of its plays.

Miami currently has the 18th-best average in-game win probability, but has faced only one ranked opponent. Adjusting for strength of schedule, Miami’s in-game win probability rank falls to 34th, according to ESPN’s win probability model.

Another potential similarity upcoming
Arguably, Notre Dame’s biggest win of last season came at No. 8 Oklahoma in its eighth game of the season. The Irish entered the game as double-digit underdogs, and, like Miami, they needed fourth-quarter comebacks in their previous two games against Stanford and BYU to remain undefeated.

Miami enters its eighth game of the season as more than a three-touchdown underdog at Florida State. The Hurricanes’ offense was slowed in its last two games, and it will face a Florida State defense that has held its last two ranked opponents to 14 combined points.

One of the keys to Notre Dame’s win against Oklahoma was its run game. The Irish gained 179 yards and all three of their touchdowns on designed runs. They were able to control the clock and keep Landry Jones off the field.

Look for Miami to employ a similar plan Saturday. In the fourth quarter of its past two games, Miami ran the ball on 76 percent of its plays and averaged 99.5 rush yards.

They scored all four of their fourth-quarter touchdowns on the ground in those two comebacks. If Florida State has a weakness, it is its run defense; the Seminoles lead the nation in pass defense, but rank 29th in rush defense.

Florida State has scored a touchdown on 52 percent of its drives, second best in the FBS. If Miami is able to keep them off the field, the Hurricanes might be able to continue their unbeaten season.

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.

Top stats to know: BCS Standings Week 2

October, 27, 2013
A look at the most significant notes to come from this week’s BCS Rankings:

Oregon, Florida State swap spots
Oregon and Florida State swapped spots with Oregon taking the No. 2 spot in the rankings and Florida State dropping to No. 3.

Oregon is ranked in the top 3 in each of the first two BCS standings for the second time in school history (No. 2 in first 2 weeks of 2010).

The Seminoles are ranked in the top 3 in each of the first two BCS standings for the second time in school history. In 1999 they were No. 1 in the first two weeks.

This is also the first time the ACC has had 3 teams in the top 10 in consecutive weeks since October 23 and 30, 2005.

Stanford moves up
Stanford moved into the No. 5 spot.

This is the first time Stanford has been in the top 5 in the BCS this early into the season. Previous earliest was in the third release in 2011.

Alabama sitting comfortably at No. 1
Alabama is No. 1 in the first two BCS standings for the second straight year. The only other teams to be ranked No. 1 in the first two releases in back-to-back years were Oklahoma in 2002-03 and Ohio State in 2006-07.

The SEC has 6 teams in the top 15. Since the start of last season, the SEC has had 6 teams in the top 15 in every standings except last week. No other conference has even had more than 4 teams in the top 15 in any single week.

Uncharted territory
For the second straight week, Baylor reached its highest BCS ranking ever at No. 6 overall

Fresno State is ranked No. 16, its highest BCS ranking ever.

Matchup of the Week: Miami at Florida State
Saturday's matchup with Florida State will be the third matchup between two ACC teams ranked in the top 10 of the BCS.

The other two were in 2005 when No. 6 Miami defeated No. 3 Virginia Tech, 27-7 and 2007 when No. 2 Boston College defeated No. 8 Virginia Tech, 14-0.

This Saturday’s game vs Miami will be only the second time that Florida State and Miami have played while ranked in the BCS standings.

On December 7, 2003, No. 9 Miami (then a member of the Big East) beat No. 7 Florida State, 16-14.

Winston’s big first quarter leads Seminoles

October, 27, 2013
Below are some storylines from Week 9 of the college football season using ESPN’s new set of analytical storytelling metrics for college football.

There are items that include college QBR, team offense/defense/special teams efficiency ratings (also known as expected points added), and win probability.

For more background on these metrics, read Dean Oliver’s primer on all of them and his explanation of college Total QBR. For complete college Total QBR information, go here.

Oregon rides defense to victory
Oregon outscored UCLA 28-0 in the second half to win its eighth straight game of the season. Its 28 points were split between the offense and defense.

Defensively, Oregon held UCLA to 94 yards in the second half, including 21 pass yards on 10 attempts. The Ducks added 13.6 expected points in the second half, matching their per-game total entering the game, which ranked third in the FBS.

Alabama putting teams away by halftime
In the six games since Alabama allowed 42 points to Texas A&M, its most under Nick Saban, the Tide have five more touchdowns (31) than their opponents have points (26).

In those games, the Tide have outscored their opponents 151-0 in the first half and have had an average win probability of 95 percent at halftime.

Miami comes back on heels of its running game, again
Miami entered the fourth quarter trailing in each of its past two games. The Hurricanes had less than a 25 percent chance of winning in the fourth quarter in each of those games.

Miami came back to win in those games largely because it got its run game going. Against UNC, Dallas Crawford rushed for 69 yards in the fourth quarter, including a 3-yard game-winning touchdown with 16 seconds remaining. Similarly, Duke Johnson ran for 85 yards in the fourth quarter against Wake Forest, including a 1-yard game-winning touchdown with 53 seconds remaining.

In the fourth quarter of those games, the Hurricanes added 6.21 expected points per game on the ground. That means if Miami had had an average rush offense in the fourth quarter (EPA of 0), and all other things remained the same, it would have lost each of its last two games by about three points.

Winston impresses in the first quarter
Jameis Winston threw for 229 yards and three touchdowns in the first quarter against NC State, the most pass yards in the first quarter by a quarterback this season.

Winston had a 99.4 Total QBR after one quarter, and his QBR did not fall below 96.

Winston now has a Total QBR of 89 or higher in each of his past four games. During that time, he has the highest Total QBR in the nation.

South Carolina’s comeback
South Carolina’s win probability fell to below three percent in the middle of the third quarter before the Gamecocks scored 17 straight points to send the game to overtime.

Why Mannion's record game was deceiving

October, 1, 2013
Week 5 featured the first full slate of conference games, and many matchups lived up to their pregame hype. Georgia outscored LSU in a back-and-forth game filled with big plays and superb quarterback play. Alabama found its defense and shut out Ole Miss at home. And Braxton Miller returned from injury to throw four touchdowns and lead Ohio State past Wisconsin.

With the help of ESPN’s new college football metrics (see explanations here), ESPN Stats & Information looks back on Week 5 and ahead to this weekend’s matchup between Northwestern and Ohio State.

Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY SportsSean Mannio threw for a school-record 6 touchdowns on Saturday in Oregon State's win over Colorado.

First, we look at how a record-setting performance could look rather pedestrian through the lens of our metrics.

Sean Mannion threw for 414 yards and a school record six touchdowns in Oregon State's 44-17 win against Colorado. But he finished with a middle-of-the-road 48.8 Total QBR.

At first glance, Mannion’s stats are outstanding. But he completed 52 percent of his passes, threw an interception and took two sacks, including one sack-fumble. In addition, a lot of Mannion's production came in garbage time: 117 pass yards and three touchdowns when leading by at least 21 points. In sum, that led to a below-average 48.8 Total QBR.

Best Individual Performances
Stephen Morris (97.0 Total QBR) completed 11-of-16 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns before leaving with an ankle injury in Miami's win against South Florida. Morris’ 97.0 Total QBR was the highest by a Miami quarterback against an FBS opponent in the last 10 seasons.

Nathan Scheelhaase (93.7 Total QBR) threw for 278 yards and a career-high five pass touchdowns as Illinois beat Miami (OH). Scheelhaase completed 79 percent of his passes, including five of seven passes in the red zone that resulted in four touchdowns.

Taysom Hill (93.1 Total QBR) became the second player in the FBS to pass for 150 yards and rush for 150 yards in a game this season as BYU beat Middle Tennessee 37-10. Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois is the other quarterback to accomplish the feat this season. Hill ran for 165 yards on 18 attempts, resulting in 5.2 expected points added on rushing plays. This season, Hill leads all FBS quarterbacks with 565 rush yards and has added almost twice as many expected points on running plays than any other quarterback.

Tyler Murphy (93.0 Total QBR) followed up his 98.1 Total QBR in his debut with a 93 QBR in Florida's win against Kentucky. Murphy completed all 11 of his passes in the first half and had a 98.9 Total QBR in the first 30 minutes of play. In 15 career starts, injured Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel has never had a single-game Total QBR of 93 or above or a perfect completion percentage in a half.

View the full list of Total QBR leaders for the season and Week 5.

Best Team Performances
Offense: East Carolina. The Pirates scored seven offensive touchdowns and averaged 4.2 points per drive in their 55-31 victory at North Carolina. They added 32.3 expected points on offense, which was the second-most offensive expected points added in a game against an AQ opponent this season (Oregon: +39.2 EPA against Tennessee on Sept. 14).

Defense: Alabama. The Tide’s defense added 24.4 expected points toward their 25-point victory. That means that if Alabama had an average defense, it would have basically been an equal matchup on Saturday. Ole Miss entered the game averaging 490 yards and 38 points per game, but the Rebels were held to 205 total yards and were shut out for the first time since 1998.

Special Teams: Georgia. Special teams is often overlooked, but it may have been the difference in Georgia’s win against LSU.

The graphic shows the expected points added by each of Georgia’s units to the team's net points in the game. Georgia’s offense and defense basically canceled each other out, but its special teams unit added four expected points, which may have been the difference in the game.

On special teams, Georgia recovered a muffed punt and made all three of its field goals, including a 55-yard field goal by Marshall Morgan in the third quarter.

Looking ahead to Week 6
Ohio State travels to No. 16 Northwestern looking to knock off its second-straight ranked opponent on Saturday. College GameDay will be at Northwestern for the first time since a 1995 showdown against Iowa.

For Northwestern to pull off the upset, the Wildcats must stop Ohio State’s balanced offense. The Buckeyes have passed for 1,070 yards and rushed for 1,436 yards in five games this season. They are one of two teams (Texas A&M) that has added at least 50 expected points on passing and rushing plays.

Ohio State will have its own challenge on defense as it tries to stop Northwestern’s dual-quarterback system. Northwestern quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian are off to hot starts, with each player posting a Total QBR above 70 this season. The only other team that has two quarterbacks with at least 75 action plays and a Total QBR of 70 or above is Ohio State.

Inside the matchup: Johnson vs Gators D

September, 4, 2013

Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesThe object on Saturday will be to get Duke Johnson into space in which he can use his big-play ability.
Miami is slated to take on its in-state rival Florida this Saturday (12 ET on ESPN), and one area to watch will be the running game.

The Gators have given up just two rushes of at least 50 yards in the last 10 seasons, three fewer than any other team in FBS. The last time Florida allowed a 50-yard run was against Furman in 2011.

Last season, the Gators ranked fourth in the FBS in rushing yards per game allowed (95). In the season opener against Toledo on Saturday, they allowed 50 rush yards.

As a true freshman last year, Miami's Duke Johnson averaged 6.8 yards per carry, which ranked ninth in FBS among qualified running backs.

He had nine rushes of at least 20 yards, including five that went for at least 50 yards. Among all returning FBS players, no one had more rushes of 50 yards or longer last season.

What’s staggering about his big plays was that these rushes were not simple runs through a gaping hole. In Johnson’s five rushes of 50-plus yards he gained 292 total yards, 118 after contact.

Johnson also had 27 kickoff returns that averaged 33 yards per return, second highest in FBS behind UCF’s Quincy McDuffie (34 yards per kickoff return).

Johnson continued his torrid pace last Saturday against Florida Atlantic, rushing for an FBS-high 186 yards on 19 carries. In that game, Johnson had rushes of 43 and 53 yards, the latter of which went for a touchdown. He also added a 38-yard reception on a dump-off pass from Stephen Morris.

Johnson needs 117 rush yards this week to match Lamar Miller in 2011 for the most by a Miami player in the first two games of a season since 2000.

But the Florida defense has allowed only one 100-yard rusher in its last 16 games (Todd Gurley of Georgia last October).

D-II Washburn steals Super Bowl show

February, 1, 2013
A total of 106 players are on the active rosters of the Ravens and 49ers, and examining the alma maters of Super Bowl teams always produces interesting quirks. Here are three things to know…

Who’s number one?
Miami (FL) leads the way with five players on Super Bowl rosters, followed by Oregon, Ohio State, Texas, Marshall and Utah with four apiece. The Hurricanes shouldn’t be a surprising presence, as Miami was second among all schools with 37 players on NFL opening-day rosters.

The lone college with more players on opening-day squads was USC with 44, but the Trojans don’t have a single player in the Super Bowl for just the fifth time in 47 games.

Ichabod craze
The most unexpected find is Division II Washburn University, which features two players on Super Bowl rosters: Ravens starting cornerback Cary Williams and 49ers special-teams captain Michael Wilhoite, who played together for the Ichabods in 2006 and 2007. Located in Topeka, Kansas, Washburn sports an enrollment of 7,204 and has never had an alumnus play in the Super Bowl.

This season, Washburn has the same number of Super Bowl players as traditional powers LSU (1), Notre Dame (1), Oklahoma (0) and USC combined. The Ichabods also match the total of recent BCS champions Alabama, Auburn and Florida.

This marks the fifth time in the last 20 years that two players from the same non-Division I program played in the Super Bowl.

The most recent occurrence was 11 years ago, when South Dakota State was still Division II and featured alumni Adam Vinatieri (Patriots) and Adam Timmerman (Rams) in Super Bowl XXXVI.

Blue Hen group
Neither starting quarterback, Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick or Delaware’s Joe Flacco, attended a college in one of the BCS AQ conferences, which isn’t as rare as you might think. It last happened four years ago when Northern Iowa’s Kurt Warner faced Ben Roethlisberger from Miami (OH).

Flacco will join Rich Gannon as the second Blue Hen quarterback to start a Super Bowl, while notable schools like USC, Texas and Ohio State still haven’t produced one.

Threes the key for Blue Devils, Hurricanes

January, 22, 2013
The top-ranked Duke Blue Devils hit the road for the second time this season to take on the Miami Hurricanes on Wednesday (ESPN, 7 ET).

The Blue Devils are 16-1 this season, but lost their only previous road game against North Carolina State on January 12.

Miami is ranked for the first time since January 2010, when the Hurricanes reached No. 23 in the AP poll after starting the season 15-1.

Key to the game
Duke is shooting 42.2 percent on three-pointers this season, best in the ACC and fourth in the nation. The Blue Devils have won 77 straight games when making at least 44 percent of their shots from behind the arc.

The last time Duke shot better than 40 percent from three-point range for an entire season was in 1991-92, when it won its second of back-to-back national championships.

The Hurricanes are holding their opponents to 31.1 percent on three-point shots and have held five of their last six opponents under 40 percent from long range.

Despite Miami's solid defense against the three-point shot, the Hurricanes give up a large percentage of their points from beyond the arc. Miami’s opponents have scored 33.0 percent of their points on three-pointers, which is the second-highest percentage in the conference.

Take care of the ball
Duke and Miami are the best two teams in the ACC at taking care of the basketball. They are the only two conference members to turn the ball over on less than 17 percent of their possessions.

The Hurricanes’ ball control could limit Duke’s easy baskets. The Blue Devils lead the ACC with 19.1 points per game off turnovers. Miami allows a league-low 9.6 points per game off turnovers.

Catch me if you can
Duke leads the ACC in points per game (19.2) and field goal percentage (43.1) on catch-and-shoot jump shots this season.

In the Blue Devils’ lone loss, they went cold on those shots, scoring just 12 points on 36.4 percent shooting in catch-and-shoot situations against the Wolfpack.

Duke struggled on those shots, despite being left unguarded on nine of its 11 catch-and-shoot attempts.

Seth Curry is shooting 47.9 percent on catch-and-shoot plays, fifth best in the ACC. He’s even better when guarded, making an ACC-best 53.7 percent of his contested catch-and-shoot attempts.

As good as the Blue Devils are on catch-and-shoot offense, they are just as good on the defensive end. Duke limits its opponents to 8.5 points per game and 26.7 percent shooting in such situations. Both figures lead the ACC.

Final Four pedigree?
Duke is allowing 88.4 points per 100 possessions this season, on pace for the team's best defensive efficiency since the 1997-98 season.

The Blue Devils have held their opponents to 92 or fewer points per 100 possessions four times in the last 15 seasons. They’ve made it to the Sweet 16 each time and played for the championship twice, winning the 2001 title.

Last season, the Blue Devils allowed 99.7 points per 100 possessions, fourth-worst in the ACC.

Minimal precedent for Alabama win vs LSU

November, 2, 2012
History shows that the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide, who are coming off a home win against a Top-20 opponent Mississippi State, have a tough test Saturday against another highly-ranked opponent in the fifth-ranked LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium.

The AP No. 1 team has faced a Top-20 opponent on the road the week after a home win against another Top-20 opponent nine previous times. The AP No. 1 team is just 2-7 in those games, including the Crimson Tide, who lost in that situation at South Carolina two years ago.

Some of these games are defining moments in the history of at least one of the schools involved.

Here’s a summary of each game since 2000 that fits the same description as Alabama’s game at LSU this Saturday.

2010: 19 South Carolina def. 1 Alabama, 35-21
The Gamecocks came out firing, opening up a 21-3 lead that couldn’t be overcome en route to a 35-21 victory behind three touchdown passes from Stephen Garcia and three scores from freshman running back Marcus Lattimore.

The defense limited future NFL first-rounders Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson to just 64 yards on the ground, allowing South Carolina to earn the school’s first victory vs a No. 1-ranked opponent.

2008: 6 Texas Tech def. 1 Texas, 39-33
Texas was a play away from winning before Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell found Michael Crabtree on the sideline for the dramatic game-winning touchdown with one second left.

That loss would be the Longhorns’ only defeat of the season, but was enough to leave them (controversially) out of the BCS national title game that year.

2007: 17 Kentucky def. 1 LSU, 43-37 (3 OT)
The Wildcats, who hadn’t beaten a top-ranked opponent since taking down Ole Miss in 1964, rallied from a 13-point third-quarter deficit to force overtime.

In the third extra period, Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson found Steve Johnson for a 7-yard touchdown pass, and LSU was unable to pick up a first down on its possession, setting off a wild celebration at Commonwealth Stadium.

Though it seemed like the loss dashed the Tigers’ national title hopes, they actually went on to lose another triple-overtime game later that season (50-48 to Arkansas), but still would end up playing for and winning the national title that season.

2001: 1 Miami (FL) def. 14 Virginia Tech, 26-24
The Hurricanes appeared to have the game under control after taking a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter, but Virginia Tech rallied for two touchdowns, including one off a blocked punt.

A failed two-point conversion by the Hokies and a late interception by Ed Reed (his second of the day) helped the Hurricanes ward off the comeback, giving them a two-point win that was their only single-digit margin of the season. Miami went on to crush Nebraska in the Rose Bowl and win the national title.

Crimson Tide rolls through first round

April, 26, 2012
Jerry Lai/US PresswireTrent Richardson was the first of four Alabama Crimson Tide players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.
The national champion Alabama Crimson Tide had three underclassmen selected in the first round -- Trent Richardson, Dre Kirkpatrick and Dont'a Hightower.

Last year, Marcell Dareus, Julio Jones and Mark Ingram were taken in the first round after leaving Alabama early, and in 2010, Rolando McClain and Kareem Jackson were selected in Round 1 after forgoing their final season of eligibility in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama joins the Miami Hurricanes (2002-04) as the only schools to have multiple underclassmen taken in the first round of the NFL Draft in three consecutive years.

The Crimson Tide are the first team to have eight underclassmen taken in the first round in a three-year span. Those Miami teams had seven -- two in 2002, two in 2003 and three in 2004.

Alabama is on a four-year run that began with Andre Smith being a first-round pick as an underclassman in 2009. That started after the Crimson Tide didn't have a first-round pick from 2001-2008 and failed to have a single player selected in any of the seven rounds of the 2008 Draft.

With Hightower and Mark Barron chosen in the first seven picks, the Crimson Tide became the second team in the Common Draft Era to have two or more players selected in the first 10 picks in consecutive drafts.

The Ohio State Buckeyes had two top-10 picks each in the 1996 and 1997 drafts, highlighted by Orlando Pace going first overall in 1997. Dareus and Jones went in the first 10 picks from Alabama last season.

Other than Alabama, the only school to have multiple first-round selections in each of the last two drafts was the Baylor Bears. Phil Taylor and Danny Watkins went in the first round from the Bears last season. The four picks over the last two years brings Baylor’s total to 10 first-round picks all-time.

Baylor is also one of two schools this year and five all-time to have a quarterback and wide receiver selected in the first round of the same draft.

Draft chatter
• No players from Miami, Florida or Florida State were selected in the first round for the first time since 1980.

• Nineteen early entrants were selected in the first round, surpassing the 2010 draft’s 17 for the most in NFL history.

• Riley Reiff of the Iowa Hawkeyes was the first pick from a Big Ten school, going 23rd overall to the Detroit Lions. That ties 1968 for the common draft era record for the longest into a draft before a Big Ten pick, when the Baltimore Colts selected John Williams of Minnesota Golden Gophers.

• Michael Floyd and Harrison Smith were each selected in the first round from Notre Dame. The last time the Fighting Irish had multiple first round picks was 1994 (Bryant Young, Aaron Taylor and Jeff Burris).

• Whitney Mercilus and A.J. Jenkins were the first pair of Illinois Fighting Illini players selected in the first round since Kevin Hardy and Simeon Rice went in the top three picks in 1996.

• The Boise State Broncos are the first team not from a major conference to have two first-round picks since the Jackson State Tigers in 2000.

Brad Edwards contributed to this post
Florida Gulf Coast 101, Longwood 58
Florida Gulf Coast’s Sherwood Brown became the first person this season to record 20 points and 10 rebounds in less than 20 minutes of play. Brown played 18 minutes.

Miami (FL) 64, Georgia Tech 49
Miami only attempted three free throws against Georgia Tech and won. The Hurricanes are the fifth team to win a game attempting three or fewer free throws.

UC Irvine 78, Seattle 67
Will Davis II of UC Irvine became the first player off the bench this season to score at least 20 points, grab at least 10 rebounds and block at least five shots.

Buffalo 65, Eastern Michigan 47
Jarod Oldham of Buffalo recorded more assists (10) than the entire Eastern Michigan team (8).

Akron 70, Ball State 58
Ball State’s bench players went 0-10 from the floor, becoming the seventh team this season whose bench did not convert a field goal (minimum 10 attempts).

Hurricanes NFL TD streak in jeopardy

November, 18, 2011
Thanks to touchdowns from New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham and Chicago Bears multi-threat Devin Hester last Sunday, the streak of players from the University of Miami scoring a touchdown in the NFL extended to 149 consecutive weeks.

The last time a week went by in the NFL without a Hurricane scoring a touchdown was Week 14 of the 2002 season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That’s right – it’s been nearly nine years since it happened, when the weekend of December 8-9, 2002 passed without a touchdown.

As impressive as that streak is, Week 11 of 2011 could be the week it falls. While a defensive player could always get in on the mix, the key offensive players with a shot in Week 11 are either on bye weeks or injured, as noted in the list on the right.

Should a Hurricanes football alum not score this weekend, the new streakholder could be Pittsburgh, which has had a player score a touchdown in each of the last 12 NFL weeks, thanks largely to Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (who has already had a bye week this season).

Next after the Panthers are the University of Tennessee and the University of Minnesota, at five weeks each.

The Hurricanes chances did get a boost when San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore said that he would play this weekend. Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee had the first shot at extending the streak, but did not score on Thursday.

Hank Gargiulo also contributed research for this post
Michigan State outscored Michigan 14-0 in the third quarter to break a 7-7 halftime tie, and the Spartans held on to win the Paul Bunyan trophy, 28-14, on a windy Saturday afternoon in East Lansing.

The Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans have been playing each other for over 100 years, but the Spartans have now done something that they had done just three times previously -- beat Michigan four straight times. The last time Michigan State won four consecutive games in this rivalry was 1959-62.

This is the third straight season that the Spartans have handed the Wolverines their first loss of the season. Last year Michigan lost 34-17 in Ann Arbor and struggled the rest of the season, finishing 2-6 after their 5-0 start.

The running game once again was a difference-maker in this rivalry as the Spartans outgained the Wolverines 213-82 on the ground. The team that has won the rushing battle has now won the game in 39 of the last 42 matchups. Michigan came into the game ranked seventh nationally in rushing, averaging more than 270 yards per game.

Edwin Baker rushed for a season-high 167 yards, his first 100-yard game this season, to lead the Spartans rushing attack. Over the last two seasons, Baker has averaged 157 yards per game against the Wolverines and 77 yards in his other 17 games.

Denard Robinson has been one of the most explosive players in the country over the last two seasons, but the Spartans have been able to shut him down in this rivalry. In each of the last two seasons, he was held more than 90 yards below his season average.

The road doesn’t get any easier for Michigan State the rest of this month, as this was the first of three straight games versus ranked opponents. The Spartans host fourth-ranked Wisconsin next week and are at 14th-ranked Nebraska in two weeks.

Around the CFB Nation
•  Texas A&M defeated Baylor 55-28 as Ryan Tannehill threw a career-high six touchdown passes, and Ryan Swope set a school record with four touchdown catches. The 55 points scored by Texas A&M are the second-most it has scored against Baylor, behind only a 73-10 win in 2003.

•  Wisconsin routed Indiana 59-7 for its sixth straight win this season by at least 30 points. That’s the most consecutive wins by 30-plus points by an FBS team since the 2004 season. Indiana has now lost 14 straight games versus AP-ranked teams.

•  Penn State became bowl eligible with its 23-18 win over Purdue. This is the sixth time Penn State has started 3-0 in Big Ten play, and they have won at least a share of the Big Ten title on three of the previous five occasions.

•  Miami (FL) avoided its first-ever 0-3 start in ACC play with a 30-24 win at North Carolina. This is the first time in five tries the Hurricanes have beaten the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill.