NCAAF Inside the Boxscores Week 1 (Part 1)

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.


Oklahoma St. 58, Central Michigan 44

Central Michigan outgained Oklahoma St. 546-531 but those overall numbers are skewed. The Cowboys dominated the first half and after opening the second half with a touchdown to take a commanding 51-15 lead, most of the starters left the field and the Chippewas put up late garbage points and numbers. Over the next seven possessions, Central Michigan scored four touchdowns that accumulated nearly half of its total yardage output while the Cowboys punted on six of their final seven drives not counting the last kneel down possession that ended the game. Oklahoma St. had the ball for over 12 minutes less and ran 15 fewer plays which gave it a 7.3 to 6.2 yard per play advantage.

Pittsburgh 38, West Virginia 31

Pittsburgh won a back and forth game thanks to a 56-yard interception return for a touchdown with 2:58 remaining. West Virginia had one last opportunity and drove down to the Panthers 28-yard line before turning it over on downs. The Mountaineers won the yardage battle 404-384 as each team dominated one aspect. West Virginia had 190 rushing on 33 carries (5.8 ypc) while the Panthers had just 76 yards rushing on 38 carries (2.0 ypc) but Pittsburgh threw for 308 yards (19.3 yards per completion) compared to the Mountaineers passing for 214 yards (9.3 yards per completion). Pittsburgh scored 14 points off two turnovers, the other being a fumble resulting in only a 35-yard drive.

Tennessee 59, Ball St. 10

It was all Tennessee from the start as the Volunteers scored on six of seven first half possessions and nine of its first 10 before calling off the troops in the fourth quarter. The Volunteers outgained Ball St. 569-343 and took advantage early as they jumped out to a 17-0 first quarter lead thanks to an interception on the first play of the game and two fourth down stops that led to three scoring drives totaling only 103 yards and Ball St. managed only 86 total yards on its first seven possessions. The Cardinals could not run the ball, gaining only 74 yards on 27 carries (2.7 ypc) and overall, it committed 12 penalties for 83 yards, four of which led to first downs. Tennessee was a perfect 7-7 inside the redzone.

Missouri 52, Louisiana Tech 24

Louisiana Tech had the only points in the first quarter on a 33-yard field goal and then Missouri woke up by scoring 21 unanswered points. The Tigers returned an interception for a touchdown and used a short field on the other two scoring drives that accumulated just 77 total yards. The Bulldogs responded with a one-play, 75-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 11 points but then Missouri tacked on 17 straight points to pull away. The Tigers outgained Louisiana Tech 558-344 with the rushing game being the difference as they had 323 yards on the ground on 50 carries (6.5 ypc) while holding the Bulldogs to eight yards rushing on 22 carries (0.4 ypc). Missouri did commit 10 penalties for 100 yards.

Penn St. 35, Purdue 31

The numbers were very even in this back and forth game that came down to the final minute. Penn St. built a 21-10 halftime lead that was culminated by a recovered fumble with 30 seconds remaining and turned it into a two-play, 82-yard touchdown drive in 28 seconds. Purdue came out of the second half and scored on two long touchdown drives to retake the lead while Penn St. went ahead again early in the fourth quarter. The Nittany Lions had a chance to make it a two-possession game but Purdue intercepted a pass for a 75-yard touchdown to take another lead but Penn St. was able to get the ball one last time with 2:22 left and went 80 yards on eight plays for the game-winning score.

Minnesota 38, New Mexico St. 0

The Golden Gophers completely dominated this game as they outgained New Mexico St. 485-91 while winning the first downs 31-6 and taking the time of possession by 29 minutes. Minnesota scored on its first six possessions which were all 59 yards or more and it did not punt until there was less than five minutes remaining in the game. Over half of the Aggies yards came on one possession in the third quarter as they went 54 yards but it resulted in an interception, the only time the whole game they crossed midfield. The Gophers were efficient in all aspects as they dominated the ground game (5.2 ypc to 1.8 ypc), completed 70 percent of their passes while allowing only 33 percent and went 11-14 on third down.

Michigan St. 35, Western Michigan 13

Michigan St. outgained the Broncos 430-334 but this game was still up for grabs late in the fourth quarter. Western Michigan fell behind 21-3 at halftime but was able to score 10 points in the third quarter to make it a one possession game and got the ball back early in the fourth quarter but were forced to punt and Michigan St. went 91 yards on eight plays to make it a 15-point game. The Spartans then made a fourth down stop near midfield and scored on a 43-yard touchdown pass to ice the game. Western Michigan won the time of possession by close to 15 minutes which resulted in 17 more plays yet overall managed just 4.6 yards per play compared to 7.7 yards per play for Michigan St.

Old Dominion 20, Virginia Tech 17

Points were a premium as both teams made crucial mistakes but it was Virginia Tech that stumbled too much. The Hokies jumped ahead 7-0 early in the first quarter and after three punts to open the game, Old Dominion picked off a pass which led to a field goal and then two possessions after that, the Monarchs returned a fumble 25 yards for a touchdown to take a lead into halftime. The Hokies responded with 10 third quarter points, the touchdown coming by way of a fumble recovery at the Old Dominion 10-yard line and scoring three plays later. The Monarchs went 74 yards on nine plays for the game winning touchdown with 33 seconds left. The Hokies had five turnovers while committing 15 penalties.

Duke 30, Temple 0

This game was never in doubt as Duke outgained Temple 500-199 and the scoring margin could have been a lot bigger as the Blue Devils were just 1-9 on third down which led to six field goal attempts that resulted in three makes and three misses. Duke was very efficient in the passing game, offensively going 24-30 for 328 yards and a 13.7 average completion rate while on defense, it allowed under 50 percent completions for 114 yards and 3.9 yards per attempt. Temple managed only 65 yards rushing on 29 carries (2.2 ypc) but somehow managed six rushing first downs, half of its overall total. The Owls did not cross midfield until the second half as they had just 35 total yards in the first half.

Indiana 23, Illinois 20

Illinois outgained Indiana 448-362, had nine more first downs and controlled the clock for over 13 more minutes but had four turnovers. After falling behind 16-10 at halftime, the Illini intercepted a pass two plays into the second half that turned into the go ahead touchdown. They made it a four-point game late in the fourth quarter and after holding the Hoosiers to 85 total yards on their first six second half possessions, Indiana went 75 yards in 12 plays to score the game winning touchdown with 23 seconds remaining. The Illinois offense sputtered late as it got into Indiana territory on four straight possessions but resulted in just one field goal as it had a fumble, and interception and a turnover on downs at the Indiana four-yard line.

TCU 38, Colorado 13

Colorado dominated the first half as it outgained the Horned Frogs 197-62 but it could manage only two field goals in five possessions as it turned it over on downs twice. The Buffaloes trailed 7-6 at the half as the lone TCU score came on a 60-yard punt return touchdown but then TCU took over. The Horned Frogs scored on their first five second half possessions, racking up 323 yards on those drives while the defense allowed 71 yards on the first four Colorado possessions of the half before the Buffaloes went 75 yards on eight plays for a garbage touchdown with just over a minute left. TCU did not have to throw much as it ran at will with 275 yards rushing on 30 carries (9.2 ypc) and overall averaged 7.8 yards per play.

Ole Miss 28, Troy 10

Mississippi jumped ahead 21-0 as Troy could get nothing going on offense as it managed only 59 total yards on its first five possessions before going 47 yards in its final first half drive that resulted in a field goal. The second half was bad for both teams as the Rebels scored a touchdown to open the half but their next five possessions ended with three turnovers and two punts while gaining only 57 yards. The Trojans had more production as they had six drives that totaled 220 yards but scored only one touchdown as they had a fumble, an interception and turned it over on downs three times. The Rebels had 266 yards rushing on 44 carries (6.0 ypc) while holding Troy to 60 yards on 33 carries (1.8 ypc).

North Carolina 63, Appalachian St. 61

The wildest game of the weekend took place here as exactly half of the 124 points were scored in the fourth quarter. Appalachian St. jumped ahead first and took a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter before North Carolina ran off 34 consecutive points to take a 20-point lead heading into the fourth quarter before the Mountaineers rallied. They scored touchdowns on all five possessions in the quarter and had a chance to take the lead with 31 seconds left after a touchdown but missed the two-point conversion. That forced an onsides kick which the Tar Heels ran in for a touchdown but the Mountaineers responded again with a quick score but failed another two-point try to tie. Appalachian St. won the yardage battle 649-567.

Rutgers 22, Boston College 21

Boston College led pretty much throughout as it scored the first touchdown and had a 21-12 lead midway through the third quarter before Rutgers made it a one possession game with a field goal to end the quarter. The Eagles were able to get the ball two more times in the fourth quarter but were forced to punt both times after gaining only two total yards. After the first punt, the Scarlet Knights got the ball at their own four-yard line and were able to go 96 yards in 12 plays for the go ahead touchdown. Boston College was forced to punt the second time from its own 10-yard line with 1:51 left and never got it back. Rutgers had 212 yards rushing (5.0 ypc) and Boston College managed just 29 yards rushing (1.0 ypc).

NC State 21, East Carolina 20

East Carolina threw an interception on its second play of the game but the defense forced a three and out and the offense recovered by going 70 yards on seven played to take the 7-0 lead. The NC State defense took over by forcing five punts, one blocked for a touchdown, and grabbing another interception on the next six Pirates drives to close the first half while the offense had two long drives to take a two-touchdown lead. Then it was the East Carolina defense that held its own as it did not allow a second half point and in five possessions, forced two punts, had an interception, recovered a fumble at the one-yard line and had a fourth down stop at the three-yard line. East Carolina missed an extra point and a game winning field goal with nine seconds left.

Maryland 31, Buffalo 10

Maryland outgained Buffalo 446-268 despite running 12 fewer plays as it nearly doubled up the Bulls in yards per play at 7.3 to 3.7. Buffalo did have more first downs (18-16) with half of those coming via the rush despite gaining only 108 yards on 38 carries (2.8 ypc). The Terrapins offense was inconsistent as they had three touchdown drives of 75 yards or more but also punted five times including four three and outs and additionally turned it over on downs and had an interception. The defense was much better as it did allow a 75-yard touchdown drive and an 85-yard field goal drive but forced seven punts where they allowed only 19 total net yards and Buffalo was just 5-18 on third and fourth down combined.

Michigan 51, Colorado St. 7

This game was never in doubt thanks to the Michigan defense that did not allow the Rams to cross midfield until late in the third quarter and allowed only 97 total yard up to that point. Colorado St. did generate 122 yards in garbage time where it managed its only score and while the Wolverines offense did score 51 points, scoring on eight of 10 possessions, they only had 440 total yards and a lot of those came late when the game was already decided as 190 yards were on their final three possessions. Michigan was forced into three field goals and finished the day just 3-10 on third down attempts as it struggled in long down spots. The running game was fine though as the Wolverines had 234 yards rushing on 40 carries (5.9 ypc).

UCLA 45, Bowling Green 17

The setting was ideal for Bowling Green as UCLA had no home field edge with a morning start and no fans and the Broncos took advantage early as they blocked an opening punt for a touchdown and built a 17-7 lead early in the second quarter until the Bruins took over. After that opening block debacle, UCLA got into Bowling Green territory on its last 13 possessions although it did score only seven times as it missed two field goals, threw an interception and turned it over on downs. Still, the Bruins outgained Bowling Green 626-162 so they did dominate overall, especially on the ground where they had 269 yards rushing on 45 carries (6.0 ypc) compared to 37 yards rushing on 25 carries (1.5 ypc) for the Falcons.

Arkansas 31, Cincinnati 24

Arkansas built two-touchdown leads on three separate occasions but the game was not decided until late. Cincinnati cut those leads to a touchdown each time as it put together scoring drives of 75, 71 and 75 yards, the last coming with 5:49 left which was plenty of time to get the ball back. The Razorbacks were able to pick up three first downs, two on third down conversions, and ran out the clock. Despite never holding a lead, Cincinnati was only outgained 447-427, had one more first down, 24-23, and held the ball longer but could not convert early in the game. The Bearcats were inside the Arkansas 30-yard line three times but missed two field goals and threw an interception which played into the first half shutout.

Georgia 49, Oregon 3

The Bulldogs started right where they left off as they outgained Oregon 571-313 with both sides executing nearly flawless. Offensively, the passing was outstanding with 439 yards on 14.6 yards per completion and while they rushed for only 132 yards, they did so at a 5.3 ypc clip. The defense was every much as impressive as Georgia nearly pitched a shutout with a bend and do not break result, allowing Oregon into the redzone only twice after allowing a combined 145 yards in over 13 minutes but giving up just the field goal and stopping the Ducks on fourth down at the two-yard line. Overall, the Bulldogs doubled up Oregon in yards per play at 9.2 to 4.6 and the one real negative was seven penalties for 75 yards.

Oklahoma 45, UTEP 13

Any doubts on Oklahoma were put to rest early as the Sooners took the opening kickoff 75 yards in five plays for a touchdown and overall, they scored three touchdowns on three first quarter possessions totaling 223 yards of offense. UTEP did score the next 10 points but Oklahoma took over again with 21 unanswered points before they traded fourth quarter field goals. As expected, the Sooners dominated on the ground, rushing for 259 yards on 38 carries (6.8 ypc) while holding the Miners to 28 yards rushing on 31 carries (0.9 ypc). Oklahoma was outpassed 288-233 but UTEP had over double the attempts and the Sooners had a big edge in completion average at 15.5 to 9.3 while throwing two touchdowns and allowing none.

Arizona 38, San Diego St. 20

Arizona jumped out an early 10-0 lead and increased that to 24-10 at halftime as it scored on four of six possessions but did commit two turnovers on the other two drives. The Wildcats took the opening kickoff of the second half 75 yards in five plays to increase the lead to 21 points and coasted the rest of the way. The only other San Diego St. touchdown came on an Arizona punt that was kicked into a lineman and picked up by the Aztecs for a touchdown. The Wildcats outgained San Diego St. 461-232 and had the first down edge 25-14 as the rushing yards were almost identical at 170-162 favoring San Diego St. but Arizona held the Aztecs to just 62 yards through the air on a mere seven completions.

Houston 37, UTSA 35

Houston escaped UTSA in triple overtime despite getting outgained 441-346 yet it held nearly an 11-minute advantage in time of possession. After a scoreless first quarter, the Cougars stopped UTSA on fourth down on its own 42-yard line and went 58 yards on 11 plays to take the 7-0 lead before the Roadrunners scored three consecutive touchdowns to take a 21-7 lead into the fourth quarter. Houston took its first possession 75 yards for a touchdown and then picked off a pass and scored one play later to tie the game. The Cougars forced a punt and drove 77 yards while taking up over 10 minutes and took the lead on a field goal with 23 seconds left but UTSA went 55 yards to send it to overtime with a tying field goal. 

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