Stats & Info: Oklahoma Sooners

Looking at tournaments through BPI

March, 12, 2014
Mar 12

AP Photo/Gerry BroomeESPN's BPI likes Duke's chances of winning the ACC tournament, but they could face tough competition along the way.
Duke has the best chance of winning the ACC men’s basketball tournament, according to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, but the Blue Devils don’t have the greatest likelihood of making it to the ACC semifinals.

Oregon has the second-best BPI rating in the Pac-12, but four other teams have a greater probability of reaching the semifinals of that conference’s tournament.

In projecting the results of conference tournaments, a team’s BPI rating doesn’t tell the entire story.

To project the likelihood of each team reaching and winning in a particular round, BPI takes into account how challenging the tournament has been for a team to that point. That aspect of the BPI calculations leads to interesting projections that might seem counterintuitive in light of teams’ BPI ratings.

In the ACC, for example, BPI No. 7 Duke has the greatest projected likelihood of winning the tournament. But No. 10 Syracuse has a slightly greater likelihood of reaching the ACC tournament semifinals (82 percent) than the Blue Devils (81 percent) as well as regular-season champion and No. 8 Virginia (74 percent).

All three of these teams (as well as fourth-seeded North Carolina) receive byes to the quarterfinals. In that round, based on BPI projections, the Orange are most likely to play North Carolina State (71st in the BPI rankings), whereas Duke and Virginia are projected to have quarterfinal opponents ranking in the BPI Top 60.

There is not much difference in the projected championship chances for the top three teams. The Blue Devils have a 27 percent probability compared to Virginia’s 25 percent and Syracuse’s 23 percent.

Extra game has cost
In the Pac-12, only BPI No. 1 Arizona has a higher ranking than No. 16 Oregon. The Ducks finished in a five-way tie for third place in the standings and are seeded seventh in the tournament, which forces them to play a first-round game.

That extra matchup helps reduce Oregon’s chances of reaching the semifinals to 43 percent. BPI No. 21 UCLA has the greatest likelihood of reaching the semifinals in that quadrant of the bracket (53 percent) and is the second-most likely Pac-12 tournament champion, with a 10 percent chance, compared with Arizona’s 63 percent.

An important 'if' for Big 12
BPI No. 4 Kansas has a 49 percent probability of reaching the Big 12 tournament final and a 37 percent chance of winning the tournament, making the Jayhawks the favorites in Kansas City, Mo.

BPI No. 17 Iowa State, on the same side of the bracket as the Jayhawks, has a 28 percent chance of playing for the tournament title – compared with 42 percent for lower-ranked Oklahoma, which is in the other half of the bracket. Should Iowa State reach the final, however, the Cyclones would have a 56 percent chance of beating BPI No. 24 Oklahoma.

The projections for Kansas reflect the team’s performance through the entire season and don’t take into account Joel Embiid’s back injury (which will keep him out of the conference tournament). In the three games Embiid missed, Kansas’ BPI was 85.0, compared to its 88.4 rating for the season. If that’s representative of the Jayhawks’ true level of play without Embiid, it’s enough to drop their chances to win to 24 percent, behind Oklahoma (29 percent) and slightly ahead of Iowa State (21 percent).

Big Ten projections
The Big Ten tournament projections demonstrate how BPI looks beyond wins and losses to gauge the power of teams. Michigan won the regular-season conference championship by three games, but the Wolverines are the third favorite to win the conference tournament based on BPI projections.

Wisconsin, which ranks ninth in BPI and tied for second place in the Big Ten standings, has a 26 percent likelihood of winning the conference tournament. BPI No. 14 Ohio State has a 19 percent likelihood of winning, fractionally better than No. 22 Michigan.

Not far behind is BPI No. 13 Michigan State, which has a 17 percent likelihood of winning the conference tournament.

Top stats to know: Oklahoma vs. Alabama

January, 2, 2014
Jan 2
AM ET's Football Power Index (which rates the relative strength of teams) ranks Alabama
well ahead of Oklahoma. Full FPI analysis can be found here
The Allstate Sugar Bowl pits two of the premier programs in the history of the sport. What are the top stats to know in this Oklahoma-Alabama matchup?

1. These are two of the winningest programs in bowl history. Their combined 61 bowl wins are the most by any two teams in a bowl game. Alabama’s 34 are the most of any team.

2. The Alabama defense, even after allowing 393 yards in the loss to Auburn, is one of the stoutest in the country by both traditional and advanced measures. It ranks second in the country in points allowed per drive, percentage of drives ending in a touchdown or field goal, and points per game.

If Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops gets aggressive and goes for it against Alabama on fourth down, watch out. Alabama is allowing just a 22.2 percent conversion rate (4-for-18) on fourth down this season, tied for the best in the FBS.

But there’s an interesting breakdown within that: On fourth-and-4 or longer, opponents are 0-for-10. On fourth-and-3 or shorter, opponents are 4-for-8.

3. The Oklahoma quarterback picture remains in flux. Stoops has said the call between Blake Bell and Trevor Knight will be a game-time decision. Both have been injured at various points during the season, but it was Bell who led the game-winning drive in Oklahoma’s Bedlam rivalry win against Oklahoma State.

Total QBR gives Bell the edge this season (his is 56.7; Knight’s is 46.7), though Knight has been much more effective as a rusher, averaging better than 7 yards per carry.

The Sooners have traditionally been a pass-happy offense under Stoops, but they have a different identity this season.

They’re averaging 235.8 rushing yards per game, the most by any Oklahoma team in the Stoops era. That’s 25 rushing yards more per game than the previous high (208.4 in 2004).

Stoops, by the way, has “hit for the BCS cycle”: He’s reached all four BCS bowls and the BCS National Championship. He is the only coach to do so since the BCS began in 1998.

4. For Alabama’s AJ McCarron, one of the most successful college quarterbacks in history, this will be his final collegiate game. He won’t have a chance for another national championship, but he does have an impressive list of accolades.

• Starting quarterback for national champions in 2011 and 2012 seasons; redshirted during 2009 national championship season

• 36-3 career record as Crimson Tide's starting quarterback (most wins in school history)

• Alabama career leader in passing yards (8,632) and touchdown passes (75)

• Maxwell Award winner, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner, Heisman Trophy runner-up this season

5. The previous time these blue-blood programs met was a home-and-home series in 2002 and 2003. Oklahoma swept the series, winning 37-27 in Norman (Oklahoma was AP No. 2, Alabama was unranked), then 20-13 in Tuscaloosa (Oklahoma was AP No. 1, Alabama was unranked).

Eventual Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jason White threw for 259 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the 2003 meeting.

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.

BCS bowl games at a glance

December, 8, 2013
The final BCS standings were released Sunday along with matchups for all of the remaining bowl games. Here are some tidbits to prepare you for the five BCS games.

Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio
4 Michigan State Spartans vs 5 Stanford Cardinal
January 1, 2014, at 5 ET on ESPN

Michigan State: First Rose Bowl appearance since the 1987 season and its first appearance in a BCS bowl. The Spartans have reached a bowl game in all seven seasons under head coach Mark Dantonio after making no bowl appearances from 2004-06.

Stanford: Second consecutive appearance in the Rose Bowl (def. Wisconsin 20-14 last season). The Cardinal are making back-to-back Rose Bowl appearances for the first time since 1970-71. Stanford has reached a BCS bowl in four straight seasons after making just one from 1998-2009.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
15 UCF Knights vs 6 Baylor Bears
January 1, 2014, at 8:30 ET on ESPN

UCF: First BCS bowl berth in school history. Won 11 games this season, tied for the most in school history (also won 11 in 2010).

Baylor: Like their opponents in the Fiesta Bowl, the Bears receive their first BCS bowl berth in school history. Baylor looks to extend a school-record 11 wins this season to 12 in this game.

Allstate Sugar Bowl
11 Oklahoma Sooners vs 3 Alabama Crimson Tide
January 2, 2014, at 8:30 ET on ESPN

Oklahoma: Ninth BCS bowl appearance, second-most all-time. The Sooners are 3-5 in BCS bowl games, snapping a five-game losing streak with a win in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl vs Connecticut.

Alabama: Third straight BCS bowl appearance and fifth in the last seven seasons under Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide will make their first Sugar Bowl appearance since the 2008 season (lost to Utah in that game).

Discover Orange Bowl
12 Clemson Tigers vs 7 Ohio State Buckeyes
January 3, 2014, at 8:30 ET on ESPN

Clemson: First BCS bowl appearance since 2011, when the Tigers played in the Orange Bowl. Those two games mark the only BCS bowls in school history. Speaking of history for the Tigers, they will make a school-record ninth straight appearance in a bowl game.

Ohio State: Tenth BCS bowl appearance, most all-time. The Buckeyes will make their first Orange Bowl appearance since the 1976 season against Colorado. Their last BCS appearance came in a 2011 Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas.

Vizio BCS National Championship Game
1 Florida State Seminoles vs 2 Auburn Tigers
January 6, 2014, at 8:30 ET on ESPN

Florida State: After beating Northern Illinois in last year’s Orange Bowl, the Seminoles return to a BCS bowl game. It marks their first back-to-back BCS bowl appearances since 2002-03. This will be their first BCS Championship Game appearance since 2000 and fourth overall.

Auburn: Second BCS Championship Game appearance, first since winning the national title over Oregon in the 2010 season. This marks the third BCS bowl appearance for the Tigers, who are unbeaten in such games thus far.

Will Sooners' D test Baylor, or vice-versa?

November, 7, 2013
Heading into the big matchup with Baylor, there’s been some talk about how Oklahoma will be “by far” the best defense the high-powered Bears attack has faced all season.

While this may have some merit, the Sooners defense is not as formidable as some are making them out to be if you take into account all aspects of defense and the quality of offenses they’ve faced to this point.

Oklahoma ranks 10th in yards per game allowed and 14th in points per game allowed, the traditional stats by which defenses are measured. But those measures miss some important aspects of defense as well as the context in which some of those numbers have come in. For instance:

• One thing a defense can do that doesn’t fully show up in yards or points allowed is force turnovers. The Sooners have forced 1.8 turnovers per game this season, which is just about the FBS average. They don’t force turnovers at the rate of some the more elite defenses.

• Oklahoma hasn’t allowed many red-zone trips this season, but the defense has allowed opponents to score touchdowns 11 of the 18 times they’ve penetrated the 20. That 61 percent touchdown rate allowed is again just about average, indicating that teams that have moved the ball down the field haven’t struggled much to punch it in.

Taking this into account along with everything else that a defense does on every play drops the Sooners from the Top 10, but not too far down. A bigger adjustment comes once you look at the quality of offenses they’ve faced thus far.

Four of the eight opponents Oklahoma has faced rank in the bottom third of FBS in terms of offensive efficiency, and only Texas and Texas Tech rank in the Top 40. Overall, the offenses Oklahoma has faced to date have been about 3.2 points below average – the 11th-easiest slate of offenses faced among the 72 AQ teams this season.

Looking at the quarterbacks they’ve faced shows a similar trend: four with an opponent-adjusted QBR below 35, and only one that ranks in the top 25 – Texas Tech’s Davis Webb. Webb and Case McCoy each had solid games against Oklahoma (Total QBRs of 68 and 84), so it’s not like the defense cannot be beaten by a good opposing signal-caller.

Putting it altogether, Oklahoma’s defensive efficiency, adjusted for opponent strength, is 32nd in FBS at +4.8 EPA per game. This means that Sooners defense adds about five net points per game to their scoring margin, adjusting for the offenses they’ve faced.

This is still pretty good, but not near the level of elite defenses like Virginia Tech, BYU, or Florida, and not near the level their traditional defensive stats suggest. And it bears mentioning that Kansas State – who Baylor played earlier this season – is slightly ahead of Oklahoma in defensive efficiency at +5.9 EPA per game. So the Bears have seen something like this before and still succeeded on offense (though not as much as in their other games).

The larger point about this game may be the flip side: Baylor’s offense will be by far the best attack the Sooners have faced all season.

The Bears offense is tops in FBS at +32.8 Adj EPA PG – that’s more than 20 points better than the best offense Oklahoma has faced thus far. Bryce Petty is the leader in opponent-adjusted QBR this season at 95.5, which is about 15 points better than Davis Webb’s rating.

After adjusting for the quality of opposition faced on both sides, the numbers show that it’s the Sooners who are likely the ones to be tested. They could be in for a long night against Baylor’s high-flying offense on Thursday night in Waco.

Texas runs away with Red River Rivalry

October, 12, 2013
With increased pressure on Texas coach Mack Brown to restore winning ways in Austin, the Longhorns came through with a pivotal win over rival Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry.

The Sooners had won the previous two matchups by a combined score of 118-38, including 70-12 in the first half of those games.

With Texas quarterback David Ash missing his second consecutive game due to lingering effects from a concussion, senior Case McCoy filled in for his ninth career start. McCoy came through with the fifth multi-touchdown game of his career.

It was the first time Texas won in the past four matchups between these teams. The last time Texas won (2009), Case’s older brother Colt McCoy was the Longhorns' starting quarterback during his senior year.

What were the biggest differences between Saturday’s game and the Red River Rivalry the previous two seasons? Rushing and turnovers.

The Longhorns had 255 rushing yards, their most in a Big 12 game since Nov. 5, 2011, against Texas Tech (439). It’s the third-most rushing yards by Texas in a game against Oklahoma. The Longhorns had 310 in 1970 and 278 in 1968, both wins.

Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown both ran for more than 100 yards, the first time Texas has ever had multiple 100-yard rushers in the same game against Oklahoma.

Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell entered the game with zero interceptions on the season, but he threw two picks against Texas, one of which was returned for a touchdown in the first quarter.

In the previous two matchups between these teams, Texas committed six more turnovers than Oklahoma and had a total of 110 rushing yards. In this game, the Longhorns were even in turnover margin.

Texas had an interception return for a touchdown (Chris Whaley) and a punt return for a touchdown (Daje Johnson) in Saturday's win. The Longhorns hadn't done that in a single game since 2009 against Colorado, when Jordan Shipley returned a punt for a score and Earl Thomas had a pick-six.

Texas’s 16-point victory is its third-largest margin of victory as an unranked team against a top-15 team in school history. Its only larger margins of victory against top-15 teams while unranked were in 1949 against Baylor (20-0) and in 1957 against Arkansas (17-0).

Oklahoma playing quality defense again

October, 11, 2013

AP Photo/Darron CummingsFrank Shannon is part of a defensive unit that is one of the best in the nation this season.
Oklahoma is back to playing the kind of defense that can win a championship. The Sooners are allowing 13 points per game, sixth fewest in the FBS and on pace with the Sooners’ 2001 team for the fewest points per game during the Bob Stoops tenure.

They rank ninth in the nation in total defense (282 yards per game) and are one of seven FBS teams that have not allowed more than 21 points in a game this season.

Last season, Oklahoma allowed nearly 26 points per game, its most under Stoops. The Sooners finished the season ranked 64th in total defense and 90th in rush yards per game.

They allowed at least 30 points in four of their last five games. Oklahoma’s defense hit rock bottom when it allowed a Cotton Bowl record 516 total yards to Johnny Manziel and lost to the Aggies by 28 points.

Oklahoma had -32.9 expected points added on defense last season.

That means that the Sooners defense contributed -33 points to its scoring margin for the season.

If their defense played average, they would have won against both Texas A&M and Kansas State. This season, the defense has added at least six expected points in every game by controlling field position, forcing turnovers and stopping its opponents.

How has Oklahoma improved its defense?

Getting off the field on third down
Oklahoma has forced a three-and-out on 52 percent of its opponents’ drives this season, tied for third best in the FBS and 19 percentage points higher than how it fared last season.

The Sooners rank 10th in the FBS in third-down conversion defense (27 percent) this season. That is a 15-point improvement from last season, when they ranked 74th in the FBS and had the team’s worst third-down conversion percentage in the last 10 seasons.

Opponents have posted a 10.8 Total QBR on third down against Oklahoma this season, tied with Stanford for eighth best in the nation and 30.1 points better than last season when they ranked 41st.

Controlling the line of scrimmage
Oklahoma allowed 1,658 rush yards before contact last season, third most for an AQ defense behind Indiana and Colorado.

The Sooners allowed 22 percent of opponents’ runs to gain at least five yards before first contact. This season, they are allowing 77 fewer yards before contact per game, and they have allowed the fewest runs (19) in the Big 12 that gain five yards or more without contact.

After struggling last season, the Sooners are committed to stopping the run this season. They are averaging 6.9 defenders in the box on designed runs this season, after average an AQ-low 6.1 last season.

Defending the deep ball
Oklahoma is allowing opponents to complete 26 percent of their passes thrown 15 yards or longer this season, second lowest by a Big 12 defense and ninth lowest by an AQ school.

None of the Sooners’ five opponents have completed more than half of such passes in a game.

In their four losses last season, opponents completed 41 percent of their passes thrown 15 yards or longer against the Sooners, which is 5 percentage points higher than the AQ average.

Who have been the biggest keys?
Three players in particular have come up big for this year’s defense.

Linebacker Frank Shannon leads the team with 34 tackles, including six that were within two yards of the line of scrimmage that saved a first down.

Defensive linemen Charles Tapper ranks fourth in the Big 12 in total pressures (hurries and knockdowns).

Eric Striker leads the Sooners and ranks third in the Big 12 with 11 total pressures.

Looking Ahead
Oklahoma plays its rival Texas on Saturday at the Cotton Bowl.

The Longhorns have scored more than 30 points in each of their last two games, both Big 12 wins. They are 11-1 since the start of last year when they score at least 25 points and 1-5 when they do not.

Stoops had basis for his comments

May, 11, 2013
During a Sooner Caravan Stop in Tulsa a week ago, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops had quite a bit to say when asked about the gap between the SEC and the Big 12.

Among Stoops' comments, published in the Tulsa World were

“Well, it depends on what gap you’re talking about. What are the bottom six doing?”

"So they've had the best team in college football. They haven't had the whole conference. Because, again, half of 'em haven't done much at all.”

Stoops’ main point was that from top to bottom, the SEC was not better than the Big 12.

Edward Aschoff did a thorough evaluation of the SEC's dominance. Here's another perspective:

In order to evaluate this claim, it is necessary to eliminate the “propaganda” that Stoops was referring to. The BCS Computer Standings do just that by basing its rankings purely on numbers.

Looking at the six computers that comprise the BCS Standings, Stoops’ claim has some validity (though it is important to note that the SEC has four more teams in its conference).

The SEC’s average computer rank was 35.1 (out of 124) and 10 of its 14 teams ranked in the top 50 in the nation.

The Big 12’s average computer rank was 36.9 and eight of its 10 teams ranked in the top 50 in the nation.

The Big 12 beat up on itself in conference play, but in non-conference games its teams went 30-9 (.769 win percentage), which ranked second in FBS behind the SEC which was 55-12 (.821 win pct).

Entering bowl season, the Big 12 was 26-4 against non-conference opponents, which was the best record of any conference in FBS.

This is not necessarily to say that the Big 12 was a better conference than the SEC. Our final conference rankings show that they are not.

But if anyone is looking for a way to back his claim, the unbiased computers are a great place to look.

10 Cotton Bowl stats you need to know

January, 3, 2013

AP PhotoLandry Jones and Johnny Manziel have their teams poised for a Cotton Bowl win.
The Cotton Bowl kicks off at 8 ET on Friday night as the No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies face the No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners. These former Big 12 rivals are meeting for the 17th straight season. Oklahoma has owned the series of late, winning 11 of the last 13 matchups since 1999.

Here are nine more stats you need to know to get ready for this game:

Going Streaking
The Sooners are looking for their first four-game bowl win streak since 1978-81, which would tie the school record for consecutive bowl wins. The Aggies are looking to win consecutive bowl games for the first time since a three-game streak spanning 1978-85.

Been Here, Done That
Texas A&M is no stranger to the Cotton Bowl. The Aggies are making their 13th appearance in this bowl, posting a 4-8 record in the previous 12. A&M has lost its last six trips to the Cotton Bowl. Its last win came in the 1987 season over Notre Dame.

What Heisman Curse?
Johnny Manziel plays his first game since winning the Heisman Trophy. The last three Heisman winners to play in a bowl game each won the game (Mark Ingram in 2009, Cam Newton in 2010 and Robert Griffin III in 2011).

Scrambling Man
Manziel has gained 784 of his 1,181 rush yards on scrambles. That's 18 more yards scrambling than Braxton Miller, Marcus Mariota and Collin Klein have combined this season.

Big-Play Johnny Football
Manziel has 70 plays that gained at least 20 yards this season, 10 more than any other FBS player. He was tied for the eighth-most passes (52) and the third-most rushes (18) of 20-plus yards.

Manziel Record Watch
Manziel is one rushing touchdown away from becoming only the fourth player with 20 passing and 20 rushing touchdowns in a season in FBS history. Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, and Colin Kaepernick are the others.

Jones Record Watch
Landry Jones can become the second player in college football history to start and win four bowl games as a quarterback. He would join West Virginia’s Pat White, who accomplished the feat from 2005-08.

Jones Cool Under Pressure
Jones has excelled when facing the blitz this season, throwing eight touchdowns and only one interception when facing five or more pass rushers. Jones has been at his best in the last three games, completing 77.1 percent against the blitz with four touchdowns and no picks.

Sooner History
Oklahoma has 27 major bowl wins, tied with Georgia and Texas for the third-most all-time behind USC (31) and Alabama (33). However, just one of those wins has come in the Cotton Bowl – a 10-3 victory over Arkansas in the 2001 season.

10 plays that shaped the BCS race

December, 5, 2012

Mark L. Baer/US PresswireManti Te'o and Notre Dame were involved in many of the moments that shaped the 2012 season.
Oct. 13: (7) Notre Dame stuffs Stepfan Taylor in OT to edge (17) Stanford
Down seven, Stanford had first-and-goal at Notre Dame’s 4. Taylor got stuffed four straight times, including a fourth-down run in which replays showed he may have crossed the goal line

Oct. 27: (5) Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o picks off Landry Jones to seal win over (8) Oklahoma
Leading 20-13 with less than five minutes left, Te’o intercepted a Jones pass at the OU 45. Te'o finished the campaign with seven interceptions, tied for second-most in the FBS.

Oct. 27: Jarvis Jones forces fumble near goal line to key (10) Georgia over (2) Florida
As Florida’s Jordan Reed was lunging for the end zone for a score that would have set up a game-tying two-point conversion attempt with a little more than two minutes left, Jones laid a hit on him that forced the ball to pop out and result in a touchback. The loss was Florida’s only of the season.

Nov. 3: Pittsburgh misses game-winning field goal in OT, falls at (3) Notre Dame
Notre Dame trailed 20-6 late in the third quarter, but fought back to force overtime. Pitt had a chance to spring the upset in the second OT, but Kevin Harper pushed the 33-yard field goal attempt. Everett Golson made the Panthers pay with a game-winning touchdown run in the third OT.

Nov. 3: (1) Alabama scores with 51 seconds left to win at (5) LSU
Trailing by three on the final drive, T.J. Yeldon took a screen pass 28 yards to the end zone to put Alabama up for good in a rematch of last season’s BCS title game.

Nov. 10: (1) Alabama jumps offside in final minute, allows (15) Texas A&M to run out clock
It was this upset that vaulted quarterback Johnny Manziel to the front of the Heisman race.

Nov. 17: Baylor shocks (1) Kansas State behind Lache Seastrunk’s 80-yard score
On a night that completely shifted the college football landscape, Baylor took out the nation’s top-ranked team in epic fashion. Up 21 points in the third quarter, Seastrunk’s 80-yard touchdown run put the game out of reach.

Nov. 17: (13) Stanford drills field goal in OT to stun (2) Oregon in OT
After Zach Ertz’s touchdown catch survived a replay review and tied the game, Jordan Williamson hit a 37-yard kick in overtime to hand the Ducks their only loss of the season.

Nov. 24: (1) Notre Dame uses goal-line stand to top USC, seal berth in BCS title game
Down 22-13 in the final minutes, USC had first-and-goal at the 1. ND did not allow the Trojans in the end zone, locking up a spot in the national championship game. On the season, the Irish allowed one rushing touchdown and five total touchdowns in goal-to-go situations, both of which ranked No. 1 in the FBS.

Dec. 1: (3) Georgia’s Chris Conley comes up short vs (2) Alabama in SEC title game
With Georgia driving down the field in the final seconds trailing by four, Conley caught a deflected pass at the Alabama 5. He fell down and could only watch as the Bulldogs’ championship hopes expired.

Notre Dame looks to reverse recent trend

November, 22, 2012
(Five great stats to get you ready for the college football weekend.)

1. This week was the 115th release of the BCS Standings since its inception in 1998. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are only the second school ever to be ranked No. 1 in the BCS Standings after entering the season unranked in the AP Preseason Poll. The other team was the Missouri Tigers in 2007, but things didn't go well for the Tigers. After reaching the top spot, Missouri was throttled by the Oklahoma Sooners, 38-17, in the Big 12 Championship Game.

2. The AP No. 1 team has fallen in each of the last two weeks. Will Notre Dame stop the streak or will it extend to three straight weeks? Only once in history has AP No. 1 lost on three consecutive regular-season weekends. That came in 1960, when Iowa lost at No. 3 Minnesota 27-10. The Gophers moved to No. 1 after the win only to lose the next week at home to Purdue. Lastly, Missouri, coached by future Notre Dame head coach Dan Devine, lost 23-7 to Kansas.

3. If the Auburn Tigers lose to the Alabama Crimson Tide, then the Tigers will become the first school in the FBS era (since 1978) to go from unbeaten in conference play (2010) to winless in conference play (2012) within a span of three seasons.

The only other school to even have a four-year span was Northwestern. The Wildcats went 8-0 in the Big Ten in 1995, then 0-8 in 1998.

4. Both the Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles have dominating defenses. Each team ranks in the top five of FBS in scoring defense and total defense. The Gators have been the best at not conceding big plays, allowing only 10 plays that have gained 25 yards or more, four fewer than any other FBS team. Florida also is the only defense that has not allowed a run of 25 yards or longer.

As for the Seminoles, they have been the best at getting opposing offenses off the field. Florida State has allowed opponents to convert on third down only 25 percent of the time, the lowest percentage in FBS. Florida State has also forced 58 three-and-out drives, the most in the nation.

5. Close calls have been the norm this season for Michigan State. Each of the last seven games for the Spartans have been decided by four points or fewer. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other school in major college history with a seven-game streak of that sort is Columbia in 1971.

No school has ever had eight straight games decided by four points or fewer. On Saturday, Michigan State is at Minnesota, which has played only one game this season that's been decided by four points or fewer. It was the Golden Gophers first game of the season -- a 30-27 triple overtime win at UNLV.

Northwestern's hot start 50 years in making

October, 4, 2012
The Northwestern Wildcats are looking to go 6-0 this season, something they haven't done since 1962. But 50 years isn't even close to the longest such drought among BCS-AQ schools.

That distinction belongs to the Oregon State Beavers, who haven’t started a season with six consecutive wins since 1907. In fact, there are seven AQ schools with longer droughts than Northwestern.

In addition to Oregon State, Vanderbilt (1928), Iowa State (1938), Purdue (1943), Wake Forest (1944), California 1950) and Kentucky (1950) have all gone over 50 years without a 6-0 start.

Opponents Running Hog Wild
The Arkansas Razorbacks have allowed 52 and 58 points in their two SEC games this season. If the Hogs allow at least 50 to the Auburn Tigers this week, they will set a dubious record for the conference.

No SEC team has ever allowed 50 or more points in three consecutive conference games. In major college history, it's happened 17 times including Akron's current streak of three games in the MAC.

The all-time record is four straight games, done by four different schools.

The most recent school to "accomplish" that was Washington State in 2008.

Oklahoma Bounces Back from Losses
Why should the 4-0 Texas Tech Red Raiders be extremely worried hosting the Oklahoma Sooners this week? It's been 13 years since the Sooners lost consecutive regular-season games.

That's right, it goes all the way back Bob Stoops' first season in Norman in 1999 when they lost consecutive games to Notre Dame and Texas.

To provide some context on this, 97 of the 120 FBS teams lost consecutive regular-season games last season alone. And though we're only in Week 6 this season, 52 FBS teams have already lost back-to-back games.

Plenty of Pushups for Puddles
The Oregon Ducks are in the top five of FBS in points per game for the third straight season. The Ducks have the most offensive touchdown drives that have lasted one minute or less (11) and two minutes or less (20) this season.

A high-powered offense is nothing new for Oregon. Since Chip Kelly took over in 2009, the Ducks lead the nation in points per game (44.2), one-minute touchdown drives (63), three-play touchdown drives (57) and touchdown plays of 20 yards or more (88).

Oregon’s offense could be challenged this week against a Washington defense that forced seven “3 and out” drives against Stanford last week.

Four Is Unlucky for Gators’ Opponents
The No. 4 LSU Tigers travel to Gainesville this week. Usually a top-five ranking would be a good thing, but perhaps not so if you’re ranked fourth against the Florida Gators.

Florida has won nine straight against teams ranked fourth in AP Poll. It’s last such loss came in 1986 against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Wildcats pressure Landry Jones into loss

September, 25, 2012

U.S. Presswire/Matthew EmmonsThe Kansas State defense simply overwhelmed Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones.
The key to Kansas State’s success is a rarely talked about side of the ball for the Wildcats-- their defense.

Timely turnovers, pressure on the quarterback, and offensive efficiency were the keys to an upset win over No. 6 Oklahoma last Saturday.

The win was just the second time in 33 tries that Kansas State beat Oklahoma when the Sooners were ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll.

Kansas State had Landry Jones rattled all night, forcing him to throw 10 passes when under duress (six in the second half).

Jones' one interception in the game was under duress on an off-balance, overthrown pass.

Additionally, the Wildcats sacked Jones twice, with both sacks resulting in fumbles. Jones turned the ball over twice, and both led to Kansas State touchdowns.

Kansas State did this while bringing four or fewer rushers on 43 of Jones’ 45 dropbacks.

Jones was off-target all night. Twelve of his 15 incomplete passes were overthrown, underthrown or wide. He has struggled with off-target passes all season. Twenty-five of his 39 incompletions have not reached his receivers.

Oklahoma was held below 20 points at home for only the third time since Bob Stoops became coach in 1999. It was also the first home loss for Sooners in 15 games against ranked opponents under Stoops.

On the other side of the ball, Kansas State relied on an efficient running game and short throws to move the ball.

Collin Klein attempted 13 of his 21 passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, completing 10 of those for 91 yards.

Klein was at his best on third down, completing 7-of-11 passes for six first downs. On third and long (six-or-more yards to go), he completed 6-of-7 passes for five first downs, including two in the fourth quarter as the Wildcats attempted to preserve their lead.

After its win over the Sooners, Kansas State moved up to No. 7 in the AP Poll. That is the highest ranking the Wildcats have attained since September 2003.

CFB fans asked, we answered

September, 21, 2012
Each week, ESPN Stats & Information will answer statistical-related college football questions posed via Twitter (use the hashtag #AskESPNStats). Feel free to send your questions along.

When has there been a college football team with the kind of stats and domination as the past 4 years of Alabama football? – asked by @MLWadester

Alabama has reached No. 1 in the AP poll in each of the last five seasons. Over the last 50 years, only one other team has done that: Miami in 1986-92.

Since the beginning of the BCS which school has spent the most time in the top 5? – asked by @garrick_rowan

It’s Oklahoma, and it’s not even close. Since the beginning of the BCS in 1998, Oklahoma has been ranked in the top five in 111 editions of the AP Poll. Next closest are USC and Florida, both with 86 instances, followed by Texas with 82. Interestingly enough, none of those teams are in this week’s AP top five even though they have a combined 10-1 record (Oklahoma 2-0, USC 2-1, Florida 3-0, Texas 3-0). Oklahoma is just on the outside at No. 6.

Who are the top 10 teams in terms of number of wins in the last 5 years? – asked by @akoehls

Here are the top 10 since 2007: Boise State (62), TCU (57), LSU (56), Oregon (56), Virginia Tech (55), Oklahoma (55), Florida (53), Alabama (53), USC (52), Utah (52).

Has Georgia Tech been the best big play offense in the country over the past four years? – asked by @rcbGT

Depends how you define big play offense, but we’ll do it a couple different ways here using the last four years as a time frame. In that span, Georgia Tech leads the country with the most plays of at least 50 yards. The Yellow Jackets have 46 such plays. Houston is next with 40. Most 50-yard plays that also ended in a TD? Georgia Tech still leads but by a slim margin. The Yellow Jackets have 28, Nevada and Baylor each have 27. If we reduce it to the most plays of at least 30 yards, Houston takes the lead. The Cougars have 134 while Georgia Tech has 127.

Has any college football team won at least 100 games in back to back decades? – asked by @Gentronamous

It has happened, but it’s important to remember that teams play many more games today than in decades past. Recently, Florida won 100 games from 2000-09 after compiling 102 wins from 1990-99. Nebraska also did it in the 80s and 90s.

Monday recap: Missouri avoids Sooner trap

February, 7, 2012
Missouri avoids the trap, holds on to beat Oklahoma
After its emotional win over Kansas on Saturday, Missouri tipped against Oklahoma less than 48 hours later. In what easily could have been a “trap game,” Missouri avoided the upset and left Norman with a 71-68 victory.

Missouri is 22-2 this season, matching the best 24-game start in school history. The Tigers also started 22-2 in the 1981-82 and 1989-90 seasons.

Marquette outscores DePaul by 16 in second half, takes over second place in Big East
For the sixth time in its nine Big East wins, Marquette overcame a first-half deficit of at least eight points, this time coming back from 14 down with three minutes left in the first half.

The Golden Eagles earned their 20th win of the season, and have won at least 20 games in seven straight seasons, the second-longest such streak in school history.

UConn losing its greatness
After starting the season 12-1, Connecticut is 3-7 in its past 10 games. The Huskies’ struggles came to the forefront last night on Big Monday when they lost 80-59 at Louisville. The 21-point loss is UConn's third-worst defeat over the past 15 seasons.