Stats & Info: Texas Longhorns

NCAA, BPI correspond, to a point

March, 17, 2014
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Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesDakari Johnson and Kentucky received a worse seed than BPI would have given them
Comparing the top of the NCAA men’s basketball championship field to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index shows a lot of similarity in how the selection committee and ESPN’s rating system evaluated teams. Although 31 of the 36 at-large teams in the field would also have been selected had only BPI been used to select the field, there are notable differences in the seeds of some prominent teams and how BPI would have placed them.
BPI rankings corresponded with the first three No. 1 seeds, as Arizona, Florida, and Wichita State are the top three teams in BPI (in that order). But unlike in the previous two official seasons of BPI, the No. 1 overall seed (Florida) is not the No. 1 team in BPI as of Selection Sunday.

The fourth No. 1 seed is Virginia, which is sixth in BPI. Ahead of Virginia in BPI are Louisville and Kansas.

That said, in each of the three official seasons of BPI, the No. 1 seeds all have been ranked in the Top 6 on Selection Sunday. And for the second straight year, three of the four No. 1 seeds ranked better in BPI than RPI.

Differences between committee, BPI
Among the teams in the field, below are those that are most “overseeded” according to BPI (based on their seed if only BPI were used to seed the 68 teams). Second-seeded Michigan was given a seed four spots better than its BPI would suggest, while four other schools are overseeded by three lines from where their BPI ranking would put them:
Similarly, in the chart at the right are the seven teams most underseeded according to BPI -- all at least three seeds worse than they should be, according to the metric. Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Iowa are each seeded five spots below where they would be if the field were seeded by BPI.

Snubs and undeserved bids
BPI was not designed to predict who would make the field of 68, but rather who deserved to make the field (and where they deserved to be seeded) based on a very specific measure of team strength based on its season results.

That said, 63 of the 68 teams -- more precisely, 31 of the 36 at-large teams -- that made the field would have also made the field if it had been selected entirely according to BPI.

The best-ranked at-large team that didn't make it was No. 33 Southern Methodist, while the worst-ranked at-large team that did make it was No. 66 North Carolina State.


Top stats to know: Alamo Bowl

December, 30, 2013
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Oregon and Texas will clash in an Alamo Bowl (ESPN, 6:45 pm ET) that represents the end of an era for a significant figure in college football. What are the top stats to know from this game?

1-- This will be Mack Brown’s swan song as head coach of the Longhorns. Since 1950, Texas has had seven different head coaches. In that span, Darrell Royal is the only one to win his final game as head coach.

Brown is just nine victories behind Royal for most in program history. But since 2010, Texas has the fifth-best win percentage (.600) among FBS programs in the state of Texas.

2-- Oregon has scored 73 offensive touchdowns this season, including 48 on drives lasting 2 minutes or less. The Ducks’ 48 touchdowns on such drives is the second most in the FBS behind Baylor (57) and three more than they had all of last season.

The Ducks’ average touchdown drive has lasted 1:50, fourth fastest in FBS.

Oregon has four players with at least 500 yards rushing, each of whom average at least six yards per carry. Oregon is the only FBS team this season with that distinction, and only four other teams even have three such players.

Oregon has 337 touchdowns over the last four seasons. That number may not mean much, until you consider this: that’s 46 more than any other team in that span (Baylor, 291).

3-- Texas is currently on pace to allow the second-most yards per game in program history, surpassed only by last season. A big night by Oregon would push this season to the worst in Texas football history.

Texas has allowed 189 fewer rush yards per game in its wins compared to its losses. The biggest issues have been big plays and rushing quarterbacks. In their four losses, the Longhorns have allowed 44 rushes of 10 yards or more, and opposing quarterbacks have averaged more than 109 rushing yards per game.

4— How do you beat the Ducks? One team that has developed a pattern of knocking off Oregon is Stanford. Since 2009, the Cardinal have three wins over the Ducks – and have followed a similar pattern in each victory: They’ve held the ball for at least 37 minutes, rushed at least 46 times, and rushed for at least 200 yards.

5— Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota has a total QBR of 85.7 this season, second in FBS behind Jameis Winston (89.0). He had a total QBR of at least 95 in four games this season, matching Bryce Petty for the most such games in FBS this season.

Mariota has excelled throwing the deep ball, completing 57 percent of his passes thrown at least 15 yards downfield, the highest rate among players from automatic-qualifier conferences with at least 50 such attempts.

The bowl winners will be ...

December, 19, 2013
12/19/13
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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.

Texas took step back after winning title

December, 14, 2013
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Mack Brown announced he would step down as head football coach at Texas following the team’s appearance in the Alamo Bowl.

Brown ranks as the school’s second-winningest coach with 158 victories, nine shy of Darrell K Royal’s all-time mark.

Brown led the Longhorns to the 2005 BCS Championship, their first national title since 1970 and won at least 10 games in every season from 2001 to 2009.

From 2004 to 2009, Texas was tied with Boise State for the best win percentage in the FBS. But since the 2010 season, Texas is 30-20. Its .600 winning percentage ranks 39th in the FBS. The Longhorns were 43-7 in Big 12 play from 2004 to 2009, but only 18-17 since then.

In the last four seasons, Texas has the fifth-best winning percentage among schools in its own state, trailing Baylor, Texas A&M, TCU and Houston.

The Longhorns have lost four or more games in each of those four seasons. The last time Texas had that long of a run of such seasons was from 1991 to 1994.

The 20 losses in the last four seasons match the most by any senior class since the 1999 class also had 20.

Texas’ new coach will want to prioritize fixing its defense. The Longhorns have allowed an average of 27 points and 403 yards per game over the last two seasons. Opponents averaged only three yards per rush against Texas from 2004 to 2011, but that jumped to 4.5 per run in the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

Mariota, Kelly, McCoy among best of week

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
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Week 7 featured upsets and surprises as seven ranked teams lost on Saturday, with four of those losses at the hands of unranked opponents.

With the help of ESPN’s new college football metrics (see explanations here), ESPN Stats & Information will look back at some of these upsets and look ahead to next weekend’s matchup between Florida State and Clemson.

Best individual performances

Marcus Mariota had a 98.3 opponent-adjusted Total QBR in Oregon’s 45-24 win at Washington. Mariota was responsible for 454 total yards and four touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter. He leads the nation in opponent-adjusted Total QBR (97.0) this season and has posted an opponent-adjusted Total QBR of 98 or higher in three of six games.

Taylor Kelly posted a career-high 98.1 opponent-adjusted Total QBR in Arizona State’s 54-13 win against Colorado. Seven of Kelly’s nine completions gained at least 15 yards as he averaged a career-high 25.9 yards per completion.

Case McCoy had a 90.3 opponent-adjusted Total QBR in Texas’s 36-20 win against Oklahoma, his highest in a qualified game in his career (a player must have at least 20 action plays in order for it to be a qualified game).

McCoy completed 13-of-19 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns in the first three quarters.

Other interesting Total QBRs

Zach Mettenberger’s QBR (46.7 Total QBR): Mettenberger completed 9-of-17 passes for 152 yards against Florida, including four completions of at least 20 yards. Mettenberger finished with a 46.7 Total QBR.

But that measure doesn't tell the whole story.

When accounting for the defense that he faced, Mettenberger's opponent-adjusted Total QBR jumped to 88.9, ninth-best in Week 7.

Entering the game, the Gators had allowed the lowest Total QBR (13.0) of any defense, and their opponents had completed 46 percent of their passes. Mettenberger's performance was significantly better than those who faced the Gators earlier this season.

Bryce Petty’s QBR (69.0 Total QBR): Petty had the highest pass efficiency rating (237.1) of Week 7 in Baylor’s win against Kansas State, but he ranked 31st in Total QBR.

Why?

Petty had seven dropbacks on third down, but failed to convert a first down on any of those dropbacks. It is important to note that Petty had two completions for 19 yards on third down, but neither of those completions resulted in a first down, which is accounted for in Total QBR.

For a full list of Total QBR leaders for the season and Week 7, click here.

Best team performances

Offense –- Oregon: The Ducks gained 631 yards and added 24.3 expected points on offense in their 45-24 win against No. 16 Washington. Entering the game, the Huskies had allowed 286.8 yards per game, and no opponent's offense had contributed more than five expected points to their team's net scoring margin. In the last two seasons, Oregon’s offense has a +49.4 offensive EPA against the Huskies and the Ducks have won by a combined 52 points in those games.

Defense –- Texas: The Longhorns’ defense added 17 expected points toward its scoring margin against Oklahoma by forcing turnovers, controlling field position and limiting the Sooners to one offensive touchdown.

It was the Longhorns’ highest defensive EPA in a game against a BCS-AQ team since they added 24.4 against California in the 2011 Holiday Bowl. Texas entered the game with the second-worst defensive EPA (-13.78) in the Big 12 behind Iowa State (-13.8).

Special teams –- Iowa State: The Cyclones contributed 16.3 expected points on special teams in their 42-35 loss at Texas Tech, the most by a team in a game this season.

That means that if Iowa State’s special teams unit had an average game, the Cyclones would have lost by about 23 points. In addition to a 95-yard kickoff return touchdown in the first quarter, Iowa State began its drives 11.2 yards closer to the goal line than Texas Tech did.

Looking ahead to Week 8

Florida State travels to Clemson (8 PM ET, ABC) in a top-5 matchup with conference and national title implications.

The game features two of the top quarterbacks in the nation; Florida State’s Jameis Winston ranks fourth in opponent-adjusted Total QBR (91.3) this season, and Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd finished with the fourth-highest opponent-adjusted Total QBR (81.8) last season.

A major component of success for each quarterback has been the deep ball. Winston is completing 68.3 percent of his passes thrown 15 yards or longer, best among BCS AQ quarterbacks (min. 15 attempts), and Boyd leads all AQ quarterbacks with 10 touchdowns on passes of that distance.

Florida State and Clemson both rank in the Top 10 in defensive EPA on passing plays, so it will be a battle of strengths in Death Valley on Saturday.

Texas runs away with Red River Rivalry

October, 12, 2013
10/12/13
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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).

Texas downfall traced to defense

September, 19, 2013
9/19/13
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AP Photo/Michael ThomasMack Brown has watched his team allow 822 rush yards the last 2 games.
The Texas Longhorns need a win over the Kansas State Wildcats Saturday night (8 ET on ABC) to avoid a 1-3 start to the season.

The Longhorns have started 1-3 or worse only three times in more than a century of football.

The last time it happened was 1956, the season before Darrell K Royal took over in Austin.

Texas has struggled in multiple areas this season, but none more than in the run game.

This season, Texas has given up 309 rushing yards per game, third most in FBS and 40 more than any other AQ school. Opponents are averaging six yards per carry against the Longhorns this season, up 1.4 yards per rush from last season.

Texas’ lack of rushing defense was glaring in the Longhorns’ loss to BYU in Week 2 when they allowed a school-record 550 yards on the ground.

Taysom Hill, BYU’s quarterback, ran for 259 yards on 17 carries, eclipsing Adrian Peterson’s 225 yards in 2004 for the most individual rushing yards against the Longhorns in the last 10 seasons. In the days following that loss, Texas dismissed its defensive coordinator, Manny Diaz.

The Longhorns’ defensive struggles can be linked to poor tackling. More than 42 percent of their opponents’ rushing yards have come after contact.

Moreover, Texas has missed 37 tackles and opponents have broken 11 additional tackles.

The Longhorns’ combined 48 missed and broken tackles are the second most among all AQ schools, three fewer than Northwestern, and 21 more than any other Big 12 team.

Not only have the Longhorns allowed the most yards after contact by an AQ school, they also allowed the most yards before contact.

Texas has allowed 50 of its opponents’ 155 runs to gain at least five yards before being contacted, nine more than any other AQ schools.

In the last two weeks, Texas’ EPA on opponent rushing plays was -31.6, worst in FBS. That means that the Longhorns rush defense has contributed to them being outscored by almost 32 points combined against BYU and Ole Miss.

Numbers to know from signing day

February, 7, 2013
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1 – Alabama’s class rank. Every year that head coach Nick Saban has had a full season to recruit (since 2008), the Crimson Tide have had a top-three class. No other school has even had a top-10 class each of the past six years. Alabama received commitments from three of the top-10 running backs, plus Derrick Henry (No. 9 in ESPN 300, No. 1 Athlete), the leading rusher in high school football history.

3 – Number of Ole Miss’s recruits ranked in the top 20 of the ESPN 300. Since ESPN recruiting rankings were introduced in 2006, Ole Miss had never had a single top-20 recruit. Head coach Hugh Freeze received letters of intent from two of the top five recruits, including the top ranked player in the ESPN 300, DE Robert Nkemdiche.

7 – Number of players since November who have decommitted from USC, and all were in the ESPN 300. USC’s class was ranked No. 1 for more than three months between July and November, but now it's ranked 14th. Two of those decommits, Eldridge Massington (No. 172 in ESPN 300, No. 21 WR) and Kylie Fitts (No. 86 in ESPN 300, No. 8 DE) flipped their commitments to rival UCLA. The Bruins finished the day with the 12th-ranked class, the first time since 2006 they finished ahead of their crosstown rival.

7 – The number of top-10 recruiting classes Urban Meyer has had since 2006, and not one of those classes ranked lower than sixth. The only other coach with seven top-10 classes is Mack Brown. This year, Meyer and Ohio State scored the No. 3 recruiting class, headlined by CB Eli Apple (No. 11 in ESPN 300, No. 3 CB).

7 – The number of top-five recruiting classes Florida has had since 2006, most among all schools. Entering National Signing Day, the Gators had the top-ranked class before finishing the day second. Florida is one of three schools with multiple five-star recruits this year (Ole Miss and Notre Dame).

12 – The number of four-star recruits Vanderbilt has received letters of intent from. The past two seasons, James Franklin has recruited 15 players with a grade of 80 or better. In the previous four seasons, Vanderbilt didn’t recruit a single such player.

14 - The number of SEC schools with top-40 recruiting classes. All 14 schools have top-40 classes, with none lower than 36th (Kentucky). Six of those schools are ranked in the top 10, the most any conference has had since 2006.

15 – Texas’ class rank, the Longhorns' lowest since 2006. Texas had been the only school with a top-10 class every year since 2006. Texas still had the highest ranked recruiting class in the Big 12.

15 – Number of players in the ESPN 300 that have yet to sign letters of intent. Eleven have yet to commit to any school while four have yet to sign their letters of intent for various reasons.

16 - The number of states Notre Dame’s 23 recruits reside in. Notre Dame has the No. 4 class this season, the highest ranked class it has had since 2006. It’s Notre Dame’s sixth top-10 class and third straight under Brian Kelly.

Getty Images, AP PhotoMack Brown's defense may struggle Saturday when No. 23 Texas takes on Mike Riley and No. 13 Oregon State in the Valero Alamo Bowl.
The No. 23 Texas Longhorns bring the worst defense in program history into their matchup with the No. 13 Oregon State Beavers in the Valero Alamo Bowl (6:45 ET on ESPN).

Here are the five things you need to know in advance of the game:

1. Markus Wheaton, Oregon State’s all-time leading receiver, has been one of the best weapons in the Pac-12 this season. He’s second to Marqise Lee in receptions, receiving yards, 20-yard catches and touchdowns.

2. That’s not good news for a Texas defense that has already allowed more yards in 2012 (4,947) than in any other season in program history. The Longhorns are also allowing the most yards per game (412.3) and the second-most yards per play (6.1) in program history.

Their biggest issues have been big plays and missed tackles. Texas has allowed 61 plays of 20 yards or longer and has missed the most tackles (105) in the Big 12. Last season, the Longhorns allowed 38 plays of at least 20 yards and missed the fewest (81) tackles in the Big 12.

3. Texas is no stranger to playing Pac-12 teams in bowl games. The Longhorns have won four of their past five bowl matchups against Pac-12 opponents dating to 2001, including last season against Cal.

4. Oregon State has been very good in bowl games in recent seasons. The Beavers have won five of their past six bowl games, including two trips to Texas -- the 2006 and 2008 Sun Bowls. Their only bowl game against a Big 12 opponent came in the 2006 Sun Bowl, a win over Missouri.

5. It’s being reported that Case McCoy has been suspended for the game, making it likely that David Ash will start at quarterback for Texas.

The Longhorns are 3-3 when McCoy starts and 11-6 when Ash does over the past two seasons. Turnovers are a big reason why -- the offense has averaged 1.2 turnovers per game when Ash starts, and 3.0 per game when McCoy gets the nod.

Alabama tries to keep state flag flying

November, 29, 2012
11/29/12
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(Five great stats to get you ready for the college football weekend.)

1. The Alabama Crimson Tide are one win away from playing for another national championship and keeping a streak alive for the state of Alabama. If the Tide can win another BCS title, it will be the fourth straight for the state. In the four major sports plus college football and men's college basketball, only twice has a state/province won four consecutive championships with multiple teams. From 1949-56, New York won eight straight World Series titles with the Yankees, Giants and Dodgers. And from 1987-90, the province of Alberta won four straight Stanley Cup championships with Edmonton and Calgary (since 1927 when NHL assumed control of Stanley Cup).

2. The UCLA Bruins and Stanford Cardinal meet Friday for the Pac-12 championship just six days after the Cardinal beat the Bruins by 18 points, and that could spell trouble for UCLA. In the history of conference championship game rematches, teams that won the regular season meeting by double digits are 10-2 in the championship game. The only two teams to buck the trend were Colorado in 2001 (lost to Texas by 34 in regular season) and Marshall in 2000 (lost to Western Michigan by 20 in regular season). And history says not to expect a close game. The average margin of victory in the championship games for the other 10 teams is 21.8.

3. With UCLA and Stanford playing twice within a week, this will be the first time in FBS that two teams are playing consecutive games against the same opponent since the NCAA started classification in 1937, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It nearly happened in 1994 and 1996 with Florida and Florida State, but the Gators played Alabama in the SEC Championship Game both years sandwiched between regular season and bowl matchups with the Seminoles. It also nearly happened this season as well with Tulsa meeting UCF this weekend for the second time in three weeks.

4. With a loss to the Kansas State Wildcats on Saturday, the Texas Longhorns will finish 5-4 in Big 12 play, leaving them with an 11-15 mark in conference play the last three seasons. The last - and only - time the Longhorns had a stretch of three consecutive seasons in which they lost at least four conference games was from 1935-1938 when they went 1-5 in the Southwest Conference in each of those four years.

5. The Nebraska Cornhuskers and Wisconsin Badgers battle for the Big Ten title Saturday. Nebraska gives up 152.2 pass yards per game, the fewest in FBS this season. Two reasons for the Cornhuskers' success are they do not allow many yards after the catch and they do not allow downfield completions. They rank second among all AQ schools in yards after the catch allowed per game (54.2) and lead the Big Ten in fewest completions allowed (22) on passes thrown 15 yards or longer. In fact, 67.1 percent of their opponents’ passes are caught within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage, the highest percentage in the Big Ten.

Texas isn't too big for De'Andre Haskins

November, 20, 2012
11/20/12
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Player of the Night: De’Andre Haskins
Four years removed from playing in Division I, Haskins led Division II Chaminade to an improbable 86-73 upset of the Texas Longhorns in the Maui Invitational. The former Valparaiso guard put up a career-high 32 points and nine rebounds to give Chaminade its seventh win in 83 games at the Maui Invitational. Haskins didn’t score until nearly nine minutes into the game and had just five points at halftime. Two of Chaminade’s wins have come at the expense of Texas head coach Rick Barnes. In 1991, Barnes Providence squad lost to Chaminade.

Stat Sheet Stuffer: Otto Porter
Porter did a little bit of everything in leading Georgetown to a 78-70 win against the No. 11 UCLA Bruins. He finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, five blocks and three steals. Porter, a sophomore, is just the fourth power conference player with 15 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and five assists in a game over the past 10 seasons. Joining Porter on that list are Ekpe Udoh, Geoff McDermott and Luke Harangody. The last Georgetown player to reach all of those levels in a game was Michael Sweetney in 2002-03.

Freshman of the Night: Brandon Ashley
Ashley scored 20 points on 6-6 shooting and added 10 rebounds as Arizona topped Long Beach State 94-72. Ashley is the only freshman over the past 15 seasons from a power six conference with a 20-10 game in which he didn’t miss a field goal. The 16th ranked recruit in the ESPN 100, Ashley is the first player on that list with a 20-10 game, and just the fourth freshman nationally. Chase Budinger and Derrick Williams are the only other Wildcats to post a 20-10 game as a freshman over the past 10 seasons.

Scorer of the Night: C.J. McCollum
Just another 35-point effort for McCollum, as Lehigh rolled to an 82-67 win against Fairfield. The nation’s leading active scorer had 36 points in Lehigh’s season opener against Baylor. Over the last five years, the only other players with multiple 35-point efforts in November were Oregon State’s Jared Cunningham (2011-12), Washington State’s Klay Thompson (2009-10), Kentucky’s Jodie Meeks (2008-09) and Davidson’s Stephen Curry (2008-09).

Strange Stat Line of the Night: Martins Abele
In Duquesne’s 90-88 win against James Madison, the 7-footer from Latvia made his presence known in the box score despite playing just five minutes. Abele managed three blocks and five personal fouls. Since 2000, only two other players have fouled out in five minutes or fewer and also blocked three shots. In January 2001, Maryland’s Chris Wilcox did it against Wake Forest. A month later, Rutgers’ Eugene Dabney did so against Georgetown.

Pac-12 rises to 2nd despite Oregon loss

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
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Despite two of its top five teams losing on Saturday, the Pac-12 has passed the Big 12 in the Stats & Info Conference Power Rankings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Irish, SEC benefit from BCS shakeup

November, 18, 2012
11/18/12
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Irish, SEC benefit from BCS shakeup

On Saturday, the top two teams in the BCS lost on the same day for the first time since 2007. We take a look at how that affects the BCS standings.

1-- Notre Dame tops the BCS standings for the first time in school history after shutting out Wake Forest on Saturday. The Fighting Irish are the 17th different school to ascend to the top of the BCS standings.

Notre Dame’s chances of making the BCS Championship Game are high at this point. In the first 14 years of the BCS, the school ranked No. 1 with two weeks has gone on to play for the title 12 times.

The two that didn’t – Florida in 2009 and Alabama in 2008 – both lost in a conference championship game. Notre Dame has only one game left this season, against a USC team that just fell out of the BCS rankings.

2-- Speaking of Alabama, the Crimson Tide are back in line for the BCS Championship Game after falling from No. 1 to No. 4 last week. It is Alabama’s 38th straight week in the BCS standings, the longest active streak in FBS.

Alabama was the fifth school to drop out of the BCS Top-2 after spending at least four weeks atop the standings. The other two that did so before December – Ohio State in 2007 and Nebraska in 2001 – bounced back to play for the BCS title.

3-- Stanford made the biggest jump in the standings, moving up five spots to No. 8 after winning in overtime at Oregon.

This is the 20th appearance in the Top-10 for the Cardinal, the third-most by any Pac-12 member.

4-- Kansas State drops from the top spot to No. 6 after losing by 28 points at Baylor.

The Wildcats are the first top-ranked BCS team to lose to a team that entered the game with a losing record.

Their 28-point loss tied the largest loss for a team ranked No. 1 in the BCS. Oklahoma lost by 28 – to Kansas State – in the Big 12 championship game in 2003.

This is a case of déjà vu for the Big 12 as it pursues a spot in the title game. Last season, Oklahoma State was 10-0 and ranked second in the BCS before losing to 5-4 Iowa State.

5-- Texas checks in at No. 16 this week and is the first school to appear in the BCS standings 100 times. The Longhorns have 10 more appearances than Oklahoma and Florida, which are tied for second with 90.

Minimal precedent for Alabama win vs LSU

November, 2, 2012
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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.

CFB fans asked, we answered

September, 28, 2012
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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.

What team has the largest differential between its offensive team rank and defensive team rank? – asked by @SteveGGerken

Marshall is ranked 7th offensively (gaining 561 YPG) and 117th defensively (allowing 509 YPG). The 110 rank difference is the largest in FBS. The 2nd largest differential is Maryland (ranks 116th offensively and 8th defensively in terms of YPG).

What defense has the most red zone stops? – asked by @Ksstl227

BYU has allowed opponents to score on just 37.5 percent of their trips into the red zone, lowest percentage in FBS. In terms of touchdowns, South Carolina has allowed opponents to score a touchdown on 1-of-8 red zone drives (12.5 percent), the lowest percentage in FBS.

What quarterback has the largest increase in completion percentage this year? – asked by @MartyBad

Among quarterbacks that attempted at least 50 passes in 2011, Texas' David Ash has the largest increase in completion percentage from 56.9 percent in 2011 to 76.4 in 2012.

What CFB team has the longest current streak of scoring 40 or more points? – asked by @McNamaraUO

Perhaps it is no coincidence that this question comes from Oregon's assistant athletic director, because the Ducks are indeed tied for the longest active streak of 40-point games. Both Oregon and Baylor are riding seven-game streaks. The longest streak in the BCS era is 12 straight by Texas over 2005 and 2006.

Who was the last college QB to win national championship in his last year, then become the #1 overall draft pick in the spring? – asked by @OneManWarrior12

Just two years ago, Cam Newton pulled off that double. Before him, you have to go back to Notre Dame's Angelo Bertelli in 1944. Also of note, 2005 No. 1 pick Alex Smith led Utah to an undefeated record in his final season.

What is the longest a CFB team has ever gone without being shut out? – asked by @William_2512

BYU holds this honor, going an amazing 361 straight games without being shut out. The streak began in 1975 and lasted 28 years before coming to an end when Utah blanked the Cougars 3-0 in the Holy War.

But Michigan is creeping up on the streak. The Wolverines have the longest active streak at 342 games. It's a streak that began in 1984.

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