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The Best Of College Football From Around SB Nation


Last week in this spot I pointed out some of the great work being done around the SB Nation network, specifically from the Big 12 blogs. But SB Nation has more than just team specific blogs. This week, we're going to take a bit of a broader look across the network to some of the non-team specific blogs and the central network itself. Like last week, the selected text is just a sample, follow the links for the full posts. I promise you, you won't be disappointed.

First up is Bill Connelly's weekly College Football Numerical post (the blog post cousin, as it were, to Spencer's Alphabetical), full of interesting numbers from the previous weekend's games:

The Numerical, Week 2: 1-Man Offenses And The Spike Factor -

9. First downs allowed by Maryland in a 36-27 win over Temple. The Terrapins gained just 4.8 yards per play and turned the ball over four times -- still a work in progress, to say the least -- but the defense showed some fire. Temple gained just 230 yards, and running back Matt Brown (10 carries, 31 yards) found no room to run whatsoever.

14.0. The sack rate of Pittsburgh quarterback Tino Sunseri in Cincinnati's 34-10 win over the Panthers. Sunseri was taken down six times in 43 pass attempts, harkening back to last year, when he was sacked an amazing 60 times. Throw the ball, Tino. Of course, Sunseri had nothing on Florida's Jeff Driskel or Alabama's A.J. McCarron. We'll get to the Gators below, but while the Tide beat Western Kentucky easily, 35-0, thanks mostly to four turnovers worth 20.2 turnover points, McCarron was sacked six times in just 25 pass attempts (a 24-percent sack rate) by an aggressive Western Kentucky squad. WKU actually logged more tackles for loss (eight) than it allowed (six). Throw the ball, A.J.!

Speaking of the Spike Factor, Run Home Jack of EDSBS has a weekly look at offensive plays that are no more effective than a spiking of the ball would be:



An Iowa State-Iowa game that ends 9-6 seems like it would be super promising for Spike Factor numbers of the most horrific variety. But Iowa finished with a SF percentage of 38% (27/70) to Iowa State's 33% (25/75). The reason is simple: both of these teams are guaranteed to get you three yards when you need six. Every Christmas gift Kirk Ferentz gives needs batteries that he forgot to buy.


Wisconsin, thanks to running 28 out of 61 plays where a spike would have done the job just as well, for an impressive Spike Factor of 45%. If Russell Wilson was a delicious burrito filled with beans and carnitas and perfectly layered condiments, Danny O'Brien is a pita pocket stuffed with cottage cheese and cut up credit cards.

Sticking with the EDSBS guys, nobody skewers the establishment quite like Spencer. Here's his look at this week's Coaches Top 25 for the mothership:

Coaches Poll Top 25, Week 3: A Unique Vintage Of Terrible Guesswork -

5. Oklahoma. This is where the guessing starts, and where you realize how few voters watched Oklahoma struggle for three quarters against UTEP. Coffee and naps and DVR: all three make the magic of late night football yours, Coaches Poll voters. Use them.

6. Florida State. Blind guessing continued, since FSU has played Murray State and Savannah State, the latter with a running clock. A six spot here translates as "we watched neither game, but seek to validate a high preseason ranking's value." This is a ballot based on two games, and this is what happens when you have to make one, and together do we all contribute to a tragedy of the commons. (Teaching Intro to Poli Sci Through College Football: just take that idea and run with it, Professor Who Needs A Last Minute Idea For Tenure.)

7. Georgia. Fine, conference game on the road, resilient defense, and Jarvis Jones just ending several lives in front of your very eyes. Did you make a joke about Old Man Football this week? Good, because like timeouts you are not allowed to take them to the next week.

8. West Virginia. Solid guessing, but aren't we all guessing, baby? [/Dana Holgorsen peels off in Dodge Challenger, skullet waving in the wind.] Do you get the feeling Florida State would demolish Oklahoma, but lose to WVU? We do, and that's why polls are weird, terrible things.

Matt Hinton has brought back the Sunday Morning Quarterback for his unique insight on the college game. Here's his take on Wisconsin's firing of their Offensive Line coach:

Premature Panic Week: Wisconsin has solutions, but does it know the problem? - Sunday Morning Quarterback

For most of Bret Bielema's tenure, and for Barry Alvarez's tenure before him, Wisconsin's greatest virtue has been continuity. They're not changing the philosophy. They're not changing the offense. If they can help it, they're not changing the coaching staff. Russell Wilson notwithstanding, the Badgers' back-to-back Rose Bowl runs the last two years were achieved by veteran lineups that came up together in a program that knew exactly what it was about and what it wanted every day. Choose your cliché: Staff and players were in sync, on the same page, working in synergy, developing chemistry, etc. All that dreaded intangible stuff. But you knew what you were going to get from Wisconsin, and Wisconsin knew, and everybody knew there was nothing much opposing defenses could do about it.

At the moment, no one has any idea what to expect from the Badgers over the remaining ten games of the season, least of all the Badgers themselves, and all assumptions about their status as overlords of the Big Ten's "Leaders" Division are on hold. When the equivalent of a new regional branch manager is asked to fall on his sword following a wild departure from a previously successful strategy (see the run:pass distribution above), you don't have to be in the meetings or practices to recognize that something has been lost in translation among the new chain of command. A pink slip is not an indication of a minor setback that calls for some pointed tweaking. It's direct acknowledgment of a breach that was only getting wider.

And finally, over at Football Study Hall, they have a weekly installment breaking down a "Key Drive" from a particular game. millsGT49 has the breakdown of the drive that ULM mounted to tie their game against Arkansas (complete with screenshots):

The Key Drive: Louisiana-Monroe 34, Arkansas 31 - Football Study Hall

Play No. 3: First-and-10 at the ULM 20 | Kolton Browning pass complete to Brent Leonard for 27 yards. | Equivalent points: 0.80.

It seems Arkansas got super conservative on this drive. Arkansas rushes four again but this time brings a linebacker down into the box to "spy" Browning and prevent him from scrambling around. However this means that Arkansas is manned up on the receivers, and the slot receiver runs a simple out route. It is again an easy completion for Browning. Leonard then makes a nice run after the catch, and poor tackling by Arkansas gives ULM a 27-yard gain on a seven-yard out route. A good quarterback in a pass-first system will be able to find an open receiver most of the time. And Kolton Browning is starting in his third year in a system where he might throw the ball 67 times in a game. I am just confused by Arkansas's defensive play calling.

(Note from Bill C.: the offensive play calling was no less confusing.)

Play No. 4: First-and-10 at the ULM 47 | Kolton Browning pass complete to Colby Harper for 18 yards. | Equivalent points: 1.08.

Arkansas now only brings three down lineman on the pass rush. That means they have eight players covering five receivers, simple math should allow Arkansas to spread their defense around to prevent any easy passes. Instead they allow an easy five-yard completion to the flats.

Harper then makes some good moves to get an extra 13 yards after the catch. I just don't know why Arkansas isn't challenging the receivers a little bit more. With three extra defenders you could play some combo coverages, run a pretty wide zone, or at least have more defenders rushing to the ball once the ball is thrown. Instead, Arkansas plays a soft man with too many people in the middle of the field.

There you have it, be sure to check back next week to see what I can dig up for you from around the SB Nation neighborhood. But, you don't have to wait for me to find it. Do some exploring for yourselves and feel free to send me any tips of things that you feel ought to be featured here.