Stats & Info: USC

SEC duo may top AP Poll for first time ever

August, 17, 2012
8/17/12
3:40
PM ET
The release of the preseason AP Poll officially means college football is right around the corner. This weekend's release does have some drama attached, as Alabama, LSU and USC each have claims to being ranked preseason No. 1. Here are some things to look for when the poll is released on Saturday:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Notre Dame has been unranked in six of the last 10 (and seven of the last 12) preseason polls. From 1950-1999, Notre Dame was unranked only five times in 50 years. After being ranked to begin 2011, Notre Dame is looking to be ranked in consecutive preseason polls for the first time since 1998-1999.

How Redd fills gaps in USC’s offense

July, 31, 2012
7/31/12
6:14
PM ET

US Presswire
Former Penn State running back Silas Redd will be a great fit at USC.
Silas Redd has decided to transfer to USC, forgoing his junior and senior seasons at Penn State in hopes of winning a national title with the Trojans.

Redd will join an already stacked USC offense. Last season, the Trojans were the only team in FBS with a 3,500-yard passer in Matt Barkley, two 1,000-yard receivers in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee and a 1,000-yard rusher in Curtis McNeal. All four players are returning next season, along with four of USC’s five offensive line starters from a season ago.

Despite returning nine offensive starters, the Trojans had one glaring hole entering 2012: depth at running back. USC returns Curtis McNeal, who averaged an astonishing 6.9 yards per attempt last season, but after McNeal only D.J. Morgan has any career carries (42 rush attempts).

While USC may have had one of the most prolific passing attacks in the nation last season, its running game was far from efficient. The Trojans ran for 12 touchdowns in 392 attempts, the second lowest touchdown percentage in the Pac-12 and the 96th lowest rate in the nation.

USC struggled most in the red zone, rushing for the fewest touchdowns (8) in the Pac-12, while losing a Pac-12 worst five fumbles inside of the 20. Curtis McNeal averaged 2.9 yards per attempt in the red zone and scored just two touchdowns in 79 attempts.

Silas Redd, who averaged 3.8 yards per attempt and scored seven red-zone touchdowns, should bolster a red zone rushing attack that ranked tied for 115th in FBS in red zone touchdown percentage (13.3 pct).

Redd’s receiving skills should also help Matt Barkley and the passing game. Over the last three seasons, USC averaged 56.7 pass attempts to its running backs per season. Yet returning USC running backs have only been targeted five times resulting in three catches in their careers. Silas Redd caught 13 passes in a limited passing offense at Penn State, adding depth to USC’s receiving corps.

The threat of Redd and McNeal in the backfield will only help Matt Barkley.

Barkley’s completion percentage jumped over 10 percentage points after a play-action fake last season, and he averages close to two more yards per attempt after first faking the run in his career.

As one of two teams with two 1,000-yard rushers from last season, USC’s new backfield of Curtis McNeal and Silas Redd may turn a perceived weakness into a strength heading into 2012.

McNeal and Redd may prove to be the best USC tandem since Reggie Bush and LenDale White combined for 3,042 yards and 40 touchdowns in 2005, as together they solidify USC’s red-zone rushing and bolster an already strong passing game.

US Presswire
Quarterback Matt Barkley smiles at the end of USC's 50-0 win over UCLA last season.


Other quarterbacks have chosen to stay in school when they stood to be prominent NFL Draft picks, as quarterback Matt Barkley has done at USC.

Let's take a statistical snapshot of recent examples to forgo the NFL Draft for one more year in the college ranks.

Peyton Manning, Tennessee
Manning still ended up as the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft after returning to Tennessee for his senior season in 1997.

The Vols won the SEC Championship, beating Auburn, 30-29 before losing to Nebraska, 42-17 in the Orange Bowl. They finished No. 7 in the final AP poll.

Matt Leinart, USC

After winning a national title as a junior, Leinart returned for a memorable campaign in 2005, but one that floundered on a couple fronts.

A year after winning the Heisman Trophy, Leinart finished third in the balloting. His Trojans fell short of a second straight undefeated season and national championship, losing to Texas and quarterback Vince Young in a classic game.

Leinart ended up being selected 10th by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2006 NFL Draft and has not yet flourished at the level he did in college.

Sam Bradford, Oklahoma

After winning the Heisman Trophy and losing the national championship game to a Tim Tebow-led Florida team, Bradford returned for his junior year at Oklahoma. It did not go as planned.
Bradford suffered a shoulder injury in the Sooners first game of the season, then re-injured his shoulder upon returning to face Texas.

Bradford sat out the remainder of the season, then declared for the NFL Draft. He was taken by the St. Louis Rams with the No. 1 pick, and he has thrown for 24 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in two NFL seasons.

Andrew Luck, Stanford
Luck tested his luck by staying in school for his senior season in 2011, and the decision worked out well.

The Cardinal went 11-2 in Luck’s senior season, finishing No. 7 in the national rankings after a 41-38 loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Luck is expected to be taken No. 1 in this year’s NFL Draft.
A scan of the college basketball box scores each night guarantees all kinds of statistical oddities and standout performances. Here are some we found from Thursday.

Iona 105, Canisius 86
Weber State 92, Portland State 79

Iona’s Lamont Jones poured in 43 points and Weber State’s Damian Lillard scored 40 in the their teams’ victories. Lillard became the first player this season to record two 40+ point games, and Thursday marked the first time this season two players eclipsed the 40-point plateau on the same day.

Western Carolina 82, Chattanooga 76
Western Carolina’s Keaton Cole attempted 19 3-pointers in the win, tying him with Iona’s Sean Armand for the most in a regulation game this season. Cole is the only player to have three games with at least 15 3-pointers attempted; he scored 18 points in all three games. Maryland’s Terrell Stoglin attempted 20 3-pointers in the Terrapins’ 90-86 double-overtime loss to Miami (FL) on Wednesday.

Pacific 60, UC Riverside 52
Pacific’s Ross Rivera made 15 free throws in 21 minutes off the bench, the most made free throws by a substitute this season.

Trillion of the Night: Eric Stangis of Southern Cal played 10 minutes without accumulating a stat in the Trojans’ 60-53 loss at Washington State.
The 2011 USA Today Preseason Coaches' Poll was released late Thursday morning with the Oklahoma Sooners taking the top overall spot. This is the first time Oklahoma is the preseason No. 1 in the poll since 2003, a season in which they reached the BCS National Championship game before falling to LSU. The team finished third in the coaches' poll that season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However, a lot can change between now and January - just ask defending champion Auburn as it was ranked No. 23 in the 2010 Preseason Coaches Poll.
1. This weekend’s Florida-Alabama game features two of the longest conference winning streaks in SEC history. Alabama has won 17 straight, while Florida’s streak is at 16. The winner of this game still has work ahead of them to catch the all-time mark, held by Alabama from 1976-80 (27 straight). (NOTE: The SEC Championship Game doesn’t count as a conference game for official records purposes).

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

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

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

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

Pac-10 holds its own

September, 19, 2010
9/19/10
6:34
AM ET
After a slow start to the weekend for Pac-10 teams losing four of their first five games including two to ranked teams, the conference finished Week 3 on a high note. Oregon, Oregon State, Arizona, UCLA and Stanford all won their games after California, Washington, Arizona State and Washington State lost earlier. USC also won at Minnesota meaning the conference finished 6-4 vs non-conference opponents that included 8th-ranked Nebraska, 9th-ranked Iowa, 11th-ranked Wisconsin and 23rd-ranked Houston.


• Oregon's 69-0 win over Portland State means the Ducks have scored 189 points in three games this season. That's an average of 1.05 points per minute. They've outscored their opponents 141-0 at home in two games this season.

• Stanford racked up 68 points against Wake Forest and improves to 3-0 for the first time since 2001. It's the most points scored by the Cardinal in a game since 1968.

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