NCAAF Inside the Boxscores Week 0

by Matt Fargo

Inside the Boxscores is a weekly feature from Matt Fargo that has been widely recognized as one of the best summations in college football. He takes an in-depth look at each game and pulls out the most pertinent information that will help you handicap games in the future. College football is filled with quirky plays, misleading scores and surprise endings. Fargo takes you inside the action.

Western Kentucky 38, Austin Peay 27

Western Kentucky outgained Austin Peay by only 61 total yards, was equal in first downs with 19 and had the ball for over five minutes less but had a +3 takeaway advantage and scored 21 points off turnovers. The Governors closed the first quarter with a 10-7 lead but the Hilltoppers scored the next two touchdowns, the second on a 34-yard interception return. Austin Peay pulled to within a point in the middle of the third quarter but Western Kentucky opened the fourth with a 71-yard touchdown drive and then recovered a fumble four plays later which led to a three-play touchdown drive. The Governors were able to pull within a possession midway through the quarter after an interception led to a three-play, 85-yard touchdown drive. The Hilltoppers put the game away on a late field goal.

Northwestern 31, Nebraska 28

Northwestern outgained Nebraska 528-465 as it used a solid rushing attack, running for 214 yards on 4.6 ypc. The Huskers opened the game by driving 75 yards for a touchdown and eventually built a 14-3 lead before Northwestern came back and took the lead after two long touchdown drives of 75 and 82 yards. After forcing a punt, Nebraska opened the second half scoring with an 88-yard touchdown drive and then recovered a fumble and scored two plays later to build another 11-point lead. The Wildcats used a long kickoff return to set up a 46-yard touchdown drive and took the lead back in the fourth quarter on another short touchdown drive following a Nebraska interception. The final six Huskers possessions resulted in four punts and two interceptions that generated only 84 total yards.

UNLV 52, Idaho State 21

UNLV scored on its first seven possessions while outgaining Idaho St. 554-241. UNLV led 10-7 after the first quarter and then scored touchdowns on all five second quarter possessions to pull away early. The Bengals offense opened by driving into Rebels territory but were intercepted that eventually led to a UNLV field goal yet were able to put together a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to pull to within three points before the offense was completely shut down. Idaho St. managed only 11 total net yards on its next seven possessions before stringing together a pair of late touchdowns after the game out of reach. UNLV held the Bengals to just 50 yards rushing on 40 attempts (1.3 ypc) while also generating five sacks but did allow Idaho St. to go 4-4 on fourth down attempts. 

Utah State 31, UConn 20

Utah St. was shutout in the first quarter as in four possessions, it was forced to punt twice and turned the ball over twice inside the Connecticut 30-yard line, once with a fumble and once on downs. The Huskies took advantage with two touchdown drives of 79 yards to take a 14-0 lead but the Aggies ran off 24 unanswered points as the defense took over, allowing just 72 yards on the next seven Connecticut possessions. The Huskies trimmed the deficit to four points early in the fourth quarter but Utah St. tacked on the clinching touchdown with six minutes left. The Aggies eventually outgained Connecticut 542-364 yet the rushing defense was exposed by allowing 245 yards on 39 carries (6.3 ypc) but did allow only 13 completions on a mere 3.6 yards per attempt while picking off two passes.

Illinois 38, Wyoming 6

Illinois dominated throughout as it outgained Wyoming 477-212 which included a 217-30 edge in passing yards and a 26-10 advantage in first downs. It did take a little while to get the offense going as the Illini scored on just three of their first nine possessions but pulled away with three second half touchdowns and gained 234 total yards in six possessions. Wyoming entered Illinois territory only twice that resulted in a pair of field goals as the Cowboys were a combined 1-13 on third and fourth down and overall, 11 of its 13 drives generated 19 or fewer yards. It was a balanced attack for Illinois on offense as it rushed for 260 yards on 41 carries (6.3 ypc) and going 30-40 for 217 yards through the air while not committing a turnover and holding onto the ball for over 36 minutes.

Florida State 47, Duquesne 7

The Seminoles were never in danger as they scored on their first six possessions in building a 33-0 lead early in the third quarter. Florida St outgained Duquesne 638-164 with the rushing offense leading the way with 406 yards on 54 carries (7.5 ypc) possessing incredible balance with three players gaining over 100 yards on the ground and five rushing for at least one touchdown albeit against an FCS defense. The Seminoles got into Dukes territory on their first nine possessions with the only hiccup being an interception on their second drive in the third quarter. That turnover resulted in the only Duquesne touchdown that needed just 30 yards on two plays and the Dukes had 30 yards or more on three of its 11 possessions while converting one of 10 third down attempts.

Florida Atlantic 43, Charlotte 13

Charlotte received the opening kickoff and went 75 yards to jump ahead 7-0 and then it was the Florida Atlantic defense that took over. The 49ers generated only 35 total yards on their next seven possessions with all of those totaling four plays or less. The Owls allowed only two third down conversions, had four sacks and were benefitted by 10 Charlotte penalties. Overall, they outgained the 49ers 482-279 but the offense was inconsistent as they did have five scoring drives of 65 or more yards but were held to three field goals and also had three different three and outs. Charlotte got into Florida Atlantic territory in three of its last four possessions that produced 162 total yards but resulted in just one score as it was denied on fourth down twice inside the Owls 30-yard line.

North Carolina 56, Florida A&M 24

Both teams opened with punts on their first possession but then North Carolina took over on offense, scoring touchdowns on its next three drives and eight of the next 10 to pull away. Florida A&M did have success of its own on offense as after two punts to open the game, it scored on four of its next six possessions with the last cutting the lead to 35-24 late in the third quarter before the Tar Heels pulled away with three fourth quarter touchdowns. North Carolina outgained the Rattlers 608-335 with the rushing game being the difference as it had 314 yards on 40 carries (7.9 ypc) while allowing just 56 yards on 27 carries (2.1 ypc). The area for concern for the Tar Heels was giving up 279 yards on 28-39 passing with a 7.2 yard per attempt average and that has to get better when competition gets more difficult.

Nevada 23, New Mexico State 12

New Mexico St. opened the scoring with a safety but the first half offense had too many miscues. The Aggies got inside the Nevada 30-yard line on its first two possessions but missed a field goal and threw an interception and they had four turnovers on seven drives in the half and were unable to score. The second half was much better where they gained 198 yards on their last three possessions but resulted in a touchdown, a field goal and another turnover at the Nevada nine-yard line in the final minute. Nevada was actually outgained 303-257 but benefitted from those five turnovers while not turning the ball over on offense. That offense has work to do as it had only 78 yards passing with just a 3.4 yard per attempt average while the rushing game averaged only 4.0 ypc.

North Texas 31, UTEP 13

UTEP played North Texas even for a half as it trailed by just one point at halftime before the Mean Green pulled away. The Miners actually won the yardage battle 400-399 but the offense did not convert in clutch spots. They opened the game by getting inside the redzone twice but missed a field goal and turned it over on fourth down at the one yard line. Additionally, it turned it over on fourth down on its final three possessions and on the night, it was inside North Texas territory nine times in 10 drives but came away with just three scores. The Mean Green punted on their first two possessions but were forced to punt only one other time after that and scored on five of their next six possessions not counting a kneel down before halftime while going 5-5 in redzone scoring opportunities. 

Vanderbilt 63, Hawaii 10

Hawaii took the opening kickoff and went 75 yards on eight plays to take a 7-0 lead and after Vanderbilt got nothing on its first two possessions, the Commodores scored two touchdowns, one on a fumble return to take the lead. The Warriors cut it to 14-10 and then it was all Vanderbilt. The Commodores got into Hawaii territory on its next nine possessions, scoring six touchdowns while failing on fourth down inside the Warriors 34-yard line three times. Overall, Vanderbilt won the yardage battle 601-358 despite running nine fewer plays as the rushing offense could not be stopped with 404 yards on 44 carries (9.2 ypc). The Warriors aired it out 55 times but averaged only 4.5 yards per attempt as going 5-20 on third and fourth down killed numerous drives in Vanderbilt territory. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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