NCAAF Inside the Boxscores Week 1 (Part 2)

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.


Wyoming 40, Tulsa 37

Wyoming took a 7-0 lead two plays into the game is it had a sack/fumble that was recovered in the endzone for a touchdown but Tulsa rallied to take the lead on three separate occasions including possessing a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter before the Cowboys came back to force overtime. Their points were also bolstered by special teams as they blocked a punt for a touchdown. Wyoming was outgained 521-399 but it ran 17 fewer plays and it was basically level at the yard per play average (6.0 to 6.2). The Cowboys showed good balance on offense but were just 5-15 on third down and while the defense gave up a ton of passing yards, they allowed only 61 yards rushing on 32 carries (1.9 ypc).

BYU 50, South Florida 21


This game was delayed for over two and a half hours because of the weather and South Florida came out flat. BYU scored on a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage and before you knew it, the Cougars built a 38-0 lead and coasted from there. BYU scored on five of six offensive possessions in the first half, with the four touchdown drives all being 65 or more yards, as well as adding on an interception for a touchdown. South Florida started slow on offense as well as it totaled 80 yards in its first six possessions that included that interception, a turnover on downs and four punts. BYU outgained the Bulls 575-293 as it ran 13 more plays and had the ball for nearly 10 minutes longer.

Nevada 38, Texas St. 14

After winning the turnover battle 5-0 in its opener against New Mexico St., Nevada again took advantage with a 4-0 takeaway edge and it scored 21 points off those turnovers. Those three touchdown drives were all on short fields of 35, 45 and 20 yards. Texas St. won the yardage battle 277-274 as the defense played very well when it was not pinned deep in its own territory and it allowed only 130 yards rushing and 144 yards passing. The Bobcats were able to take advantage of the middle in the passing game, throwing for 289 yards but there was constant pressure in the backfield which hindered the deep passing game as they could not run the ball, rushing for -12 yards on 25 carries (-0.5 ypc).

James Madison 44, Middle Tennessee St. 7

The Dukes first game as an FBS member was a resounding success. After a scoreless first quarter, James Madison turned it on by scoring 37 unanswered points as it dominated on both sides of the ball. The Dukes outgained Middle Tennessee St. 548-119 as they dominated the time of possession by close to 14 more minutes and ran 24 more plays from scrimmage. They were balanced on offense, passing for 287 yards while rushing for 261 yards and they were just as good on defense, allowing just 107 yards through the air while holding the Blue Raiders to 12 yards rushing on 28 carries (0.4 ypc). Prior to its touchdown drive, Middle Tennessee St. had 20 yards of offense in its first 10 possessions.

Ohio 41, Florida Atlantic 38

Florida Atlantic controlled the game early before Ohio took over in the second half and the Bobcats had to withstand a ferocious rally from the Owls. Florida Atlantic took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards for a score to take a 7-0 lead and never trailed in the first half, taking a 17-13 lead into the break. Ohio scored touchdowns on three of its first four possessions of the second half to take a 17-point lead but the Owls scored three late touchdowns and got the ball with 1:37 remaining in the game but turned the ball over on downs with 32 seconds to go. It was almost a dead even game with Florida Atlantic winning the yardage battle 478-476, nearly equal first downs with both rushing and passing fairly similar.

Southern California 66, Rice 14

It took a little while for USC to take control of this game as it was tied 7-7 after one quarter but then used two long touchdown drives on offense and returned an interception 93 yards for a touchdown to pull away. After building a 17-point halftime lead, the Trojans had two more interception returns for touchdowns in consecutive possessions to start the third quarter as the defense completely dominated the half. USC outgained Rice 538-280 and in seven second half possessions on defense, the Trojans allowed only 52 total yards. USC rushed for 208 yards on 28 carries (7.4 ypc) while completing 83 percent of its passes for 330 yards and scored on seven of its first eight offensive possessions.

Coastal Carolina 38, Army 28

This was a back and forth game for most of it until Coastal Carolina took the lead for good late in the third quarter, eventually building a 10-point lead with the defense making a late stand. The Chanticleers outgained the Black Knights 437-344 as they ran 23 more plays and had over a 12-minute advantage in time of possession. The Army offensive numbers are a bit skewed as of those 344 yards, three came from big gains, as the Black Knights had plays of 73, 70, and 54 yards, accounting for 57 percent of the offense. Coastal Carolina was exceptional at stopping the Army run game, allowing only 202 rushing yards as a lot of that can be given credit to the offense that kept its defense off the field.

Florida 29, Utah 26

Utah led for most of this game until it counted as it allowed the go ahead touchdown with 1:25 remaining and came up just short in a late rally. Neither team had more than a six-point lead in the game and they finished only five yards apart with Florida winning the yardage battle 451-446. The Gators opened the game by driving deep into Utah territory but fumbled the ball and the Utes went just 25 yards on five plays to take the lead until Florida tied it up and eventually took a one-point lead into halftime. The Gators had to punt on their first possession of the second half but then had two 75-yard touchdown drives to take the lead and picked off a pass in the endzone after Utah drove to the six-yard line.

Kentucky 37, Miami (OH) 13

Miami took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards to take an early 7-0 lead and the teams went back and forth the entire first half while the Wildcats clung to a three-point lead at halftime. They broke it open by returning the second half kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and then recovered a fumble two plays later which led to an eight-yard touchdown drive to go up 17 points and never looked back. The defense came through by allowing only three second half points and overall they outgained the RedHawks 353-290. The offense was very efficient in the passing game as they threw for 303 yards with a 14.4 completion average but the rushing offense needs work after 50 yards gained on 26 carries (1.9 ypc).

Liberty 29, Southern Mississippi 27

Liberty won a thrilling four-overtime game with a stop on the final play for the two-point victory. After a scoreless first quarter, Southern Mississippi struck first with a field goal before Liberty scored 10 points off two interceptions as the offense had just 28 yards on those two scores. The Golden Eagles tied the game early in the third quarter and then took the lead in the fourth quarter on a 22-yard interception return for a touchdown. After trading touchdowns, the Flames then went 81 yards and forced overtime with a touchdown with 36 seconds left. Liberty outgained Southern Mississippi 447-391 but needed 15 more plays to do so. Penalties hurt both sides with Liberty hit with 12 and the Golden Eagles with 10.

Tulane 42, Massachusetts 10

Tulane never trailed and it took the lead for good midway through the second quarter as after the Minutemen tied the game at 7-7, the Green Wave took the ensuing kickoff and drove 77 yards to take a seven-point lead. They picked off a pass three plays later and scored another touchdown three plays after that. Tulane only allowed three more points the rest of the way and the defense locked down in the second half, allowing just 65 total yards. The Green Wave outgained Massachusetts 369-217 as they held the Minutemen to only 17 yards passing on four completions and while they did allow 200 yards rushing, that was on 58 carries so the 3.4 ypc average allowed was solid. The offense was not great but showed balance.

Alabama 55, Utah St. 0

Alabama pitched the shutout and it could not be contained on either side of the ball. The Tide outgained Utah St. 559-136 and had a 30-7 first down edge in basically what was three quarters from their starters. The Tide scored on their first nine offensive possessions including five of seven touchdown drives that were 60 yards or longer and they did not punt until late in the third quarter. Defensively, they were just as good as Utah St. opened the game with a 25-yard drive that resulted in a punt and that was the longest drive allowed until an Aggies 39-yard possession early in the fourth quarter. Overall, Alabama forced 10 punts and forced Utah St. to turn it over on downs twice but had no takeaways.

Mississippi St. 49, Memphis 23

A lengthy weather delay halted this game for about two hours but it was a Bulldogs domination before and after. Mississippi St. scored on its first two possessions with touchdown drives of 75 and 88 yards to take a 14-0 lead after the first quarter. After Memphis tacked on a field goal which was aided by a Bulldogs interception, Mississippi St. tacked on two more touchdowns to pull away. The Bulldogs outgained the Tigers 547-294 as they ran 83 plays compared to just 51 for Memphis as they controlled the clock for over 22 more minutes. The passing game was solid but Mississippi St. ran for just 97 yards on 34 carries (2.9 ypc) and while the defense gave up just 129 yards rushing, it was on a 6.1 ypc clip.

SMU 48, North Texas 10

After a three and out to open the game, the SMU offense took over with scores on five of its next six possessions with those five scoring drives all generating at least 51 total yards. The Mustangs jumped ahead 14-0 before North Texas tacked on a field goal and then after the Mean Green cut the lead to 24-10 late in the second quarter, SMU threw a 75-yard touchdown pass on the next play to start a 24-point unanswered run to close out the game. SMU outgained the Mean Green 576-422 and while that yardage variance seems closer than expected, it ran 15 fewer plays and had the ball for 10 minutes less and had a yard per play advantage of 8.7 to 5.2. North Texas was a combined 7-21 on third and fourth down.

Ohio St. 21, Notre Dame 10

The marquee game of the night lived up to its billing as it was a one possession game until late in the fourth quarter when Ohio St. sealed the win by going 95 yards on 14 plays in 7:06 to make it an 11-point lead. Notre Dame held the potent Ohio St. offense in check for most of the game as it allowed only 10 points and 211 yards through close to 45 minutes before the Buckeyes regained the lead with 17 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The Irish allowed just 395 yards to Ohio St. which was a win in itself but the offense generated only 253 yards as they had just 177 yards through the air although it was at a 17.7 completion averaged and they rushing for 76 yards on 30 carries (2.5 ypc).

South Carolina 35, Georgia St. 14

South Carolina had its hands full for over a half but pulled away late thanks to special teams. It was a scoreless first quarter and the Gamecocks were setting up for a field goal early in the second quarter but faked it to pick up the first down and eventually found the end zone. They tacked on a pair of field goals to take a five-point lead into halftime but Georgia St. picked off a pass on the second play of the third quarter and converted that into a touchdown for their first and only lead. South Carolina scored the final 23 points to pull away thanks to a pair of blocked punts returned for touchdowns. South Carolina was actually outgained 311-306 as it could not run on offense and it could not stop the run defensively.

Syracuse 31, Louisville 7

Syracuse took a 10-0 lead following a 31-yard field goal and after forcing a punt, it went 87 yards on five plays capped off by a 55-yard touchdown pass. It took Louisville just 3:44 to cut the lead back to three points but then it was all Syracuse the rest of the way. The Orange scored another touchdown on their next possession and then after three straight punts, they pulled away with a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter set up by a pair of takeaways. Despite the lopsided score, the Orange only outgained Louisville 449-334 and their 6.8 yards per play average was not far better than the 6.2 for the Cardinals. Louisville had 167 yards wasted because of turnovers and failed fourth downs.

Texas 52, ULM 10

The Longhorns were never in danger but they did not dominate like the final score shows. They outgained ULM 383-259 as they benefitted from good field position which can definitely skew offensive numbers as not as good as they could have been had they had a longer field. Of their six offensive scoring possessions, five started at their own 36-yard line or better. Texas also got touchdowns from the defense and special teams from an interception and a blocked punt. The Longhorns defense was outstanding as they did not allow a drive of more than 37 yards until late in the fourth quarter on the Warhawks lone touchdown effort that went 83 yards, accounting for over 30 percent of their total offense.

Oregon St. 34, Boise St. 17

It did not start great for Oregon St. as it fumbled on its first possession and went three and out on its second one then the offense got going as it scored a pair of touchdowns on relatively short fields thanks to an interception and good field position after a punt. The Beavers scored twice in the second quarter starting with a field goal after recovering a fumble at the Boise St. six-yard line and then after throwing their own interception, they got it back after another fumble and went 98 yards for a touchdown so there were 17 points scored off turnovers. Overall, Oregon St. outgained Boise St. 470-311 thanks to a potent passing game that averaged 19.5 yards per completion. The Broncos had five turnovers overall.

Washington 45, Kent St. 20

The season started the wrong way for Kent St. as it received the opening kickoff and threw an interception on their first play which led to a short field and Washington converted four plays later to take a 7-0 lead. The Huskies forced a punt and went 90 yards to double the lead and Kent St. had no answers of defense as Washington scored on its first six possessions including five touchdowns with four of those drives totaling 74 or more yards. Kent St. did cut the lead to 18 points early in the fourth quarter but it was too late. The Huskies won the yardage battle 525-340 as the defense was nothing special expect for three interceptions and they allowed the Golden Flashes to convert 10-17 on third down.

Western Kentucky 49, Hawaii 17

Hawaii got blasted at home for a second straight week as a promising start went south quickly. The Warriors got the opening kickoff and went three and out but they recovered the ensuing muffed punt at the three-yard line yet went backward and had to settle for a field goal. After getting nothing on their first two possessions, the Hilltoppers tacked on a pair of touchdowns on a long drive and an interception return before Hawaii was able to cut the lead back to four points but then Western Kentucky took over with 21 unanswered points to put the game away early in the fourth quarter. The Warriors were only outgained 412-360 but they had five turnovers that led to 24 points as well as 12 penalties.

Florida St. 24, LSU 23

LSU started the scoring with a field goal to take a 3-0 lead after the first quarter but Florida St. scored the next 17 points then the Tigers offense finally woke up. They were able to cut the deficit to seven points following an 82-yard touchdown drive and then after yielding another touchdown, LSU once again put together a solid drive of 75 yards to make it a seven-point game again. Then it got crazy. The Tigers forced a punt and muffed it for the second time in the game which set up a short field but the Seminoles fumbled at the one-yard line and LSU went 99 yards for the apparent tying score but had the extra point blocked. The numbers were fairly even across the board as turnovers and special teams were the difference.

Clemson 41, Georgia Tech 10

It was a very slow start for both teams as the first four possessions for Clemson resulted in three punts and a fumble and the first four Georgia Tech drives resulted in four punts with the last one being costly. The Tigers blocked it which set up a five-yard touchdown drive and then after a missed Yellow Jackets field goal, Clemson went 67 yards on eight plays to take a 14-0 lead. Georgia Tech scored the next 10 points but then the Tigers defense stepped up as they allowed only 45 total yards on 21 plays the rest of the way. Another blocked punt late set up another touchdown that put it away. Clemson outgained the Yellow Jackets 386-237 as the offense picked it up late and the defense was great, allowing only 3.6 yards per play. 


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