NCAAF Inside the Boxscores Week 2 (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.


Louisville 20, Central Florida 14

Louisville bounced back from a blowout loss last week as the defense stepped up on Friday. The Cardinals took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards to take a 7-0 lead but the Knights came back with their own long touchdown drive as they went 80 yards in 10 plays and after a punt on their next possession, they went the distance again with a 77-yard drive to take a touchdown lead. Louisville got into Knights territory three more times in the first half but missed a field goal, fumbled and ran out of time on the last drive before the half. The defense shut down Central Florida the rest of the way, not allowing a point over the last 10 possessions. Louisville outgained the Knights 421-339 and 5.7 to 4.7 yards per play.

Boise St. 31, New Mexico 14

After a scoreless first quarter, Boise St. struck first as after a pair of three and outs, the Broncos marched 91 yards in eight plays to take a 7-0 lead and let the defense do the rest. Boise St. outgained the Lobos 318-123 and limited them to just eight first downs as the unit was able to make up for another lackluster offensive performance. New Mexico scored its only offensive touchdown on a 69-yard touchdown pass on its first play of the fourth quarter which accounted for over half of their total offense with the other touchdown coming on a 100-yard kickoff return. The Broncos offense averaged only 5.0 yards per play and were forced to punt nine times that included eight three and outs.

Wake Forest 45, Vanderbilt 25

Vanderbilt opened the scoring with a field goal after both teams traded punts on their first two possessions. Wake Forest looked to take the lead but was stopped on fourth down at the one-yard line and the defense made it up as it returned an interception for a touchdown. The defense then forced a punt and the Demon Deacons needed just one play to extend the lead on a 68-yard touchdown pass. Vanderbilt turned it over on the next possession leading to a short field as Wake Forest extended the lead to 21-3 and never looked back. The Demon Deacons outgained Vanderbilt 451-294 and had a 21-11 first down edge while Sam Hartman was excellent in his return with 300 yards passing and four touchdowns.

Ohio St. 45, Arkansas St. 12

Ohio St. took its first possession 96 yards for a touchdown but the Red Wolves responded with a field goal drive. The Buckeyes again went the length of the field for a score, forced another three and out and extended the lead to 17-3. Arkansas St. would hang around with a pair of field goals on their next two possessions to make it a one possession game but the Buckeyes added a touchdown for some breathing room before halftime and then the defense took over as they held the Red Wolves to 94 yards in the second half. Ohio St. won the yardage battle 538-276 despite a 14-minute disadvantage in time of possession as it averaged 10 yards per play compared to 3.6 for the Red Wolves.

Miami Fla. 30, Southern Mississippi 7

Miami and Southern Mississippi traded punts on their first possessions and the Hurricanes struck first as they got down to the Golden Eagles 12-yard line but had to settle for a field goal. Southern Mississippi took the ensuing kickoff and went 75 yards for a touchdown to take the lead and Miami could not get the offense going as it threw an interception and punted on its next two possessions before a 10-play, 86-yard drive gave it a 10-7 lead before the Half. The defense carried the Hurricanes the rest of the way as they allowed 122 total yards on the final seven Golden Eagles possessions, forcing five punts and two turnovers. The Hurricanes won the yardage battle 452-240 and allowed 33 yards rushing on 24 carries (1.4 ypc).

Penn St. 46, Ohio 10

Penn St. forced a punt after the opening kickoff and went 77 yards in 12 plays to take a 7-0 lead and after forcing another punt, the Nittany Lions scored on the next play with a 70-yard touchdown run and the blowout was on. They added a safety and another touchdown before Ohio finally got the offense going with a 75-yard touchdown drive that cut the lead to 12 points but the Nittany Lions then ran off 27 unanswered points to pull away for good. Penn St. outgained the Bobcats 572-263 and while they rushed for 234 yards on 34 carries (6.9 ypc), the Nittany Lions went only 3-12 on third down while allowing five sacks. Ohio entered Penn St. territory only three times in 12 possessions.

North Carolina 35, Georgia St. 28

North Carolina escaped against a Sun Belt Conference team for a second straight week as it survived a late rally. The Tar Heels took the opening kickoff 75 yards in seven plays and then after a pair of three and outs, tacked on two more touchdowns to take a 21-3 lead. Georgia St. cut into the lead with a long touchdown drive and had a chance for more but missed a field goal before the half. The Panthers forced a pair of turnovers to open the second half and eventually took a 28-21 lead but the Tar Heels scored the final two touchdowns while forcing Georgia St. to punt four times over its final four possessions. North Carolina was -3 in turnover margin but the defense held Georgia St. to 4-16 on third down.

Alabama 20, Texas 19

Despite losing its starting quarterback early in the game, Texas hung around throughout the game and nearly pulled off the monumental upset. The Longhorns built a 16-10 lead early in the fourth quarter but Alabama retook the lead following a 75-yard drive on the ensuing possession. Texas made one last run and grabbed a 19-17 lead but left 1:29 on the clock and the Crimson Tide went 61 yards to set up the game winning field goal. Alabama outgained the Longhorns by only three total yards and the running game was the difference as the Tide rushed for 161 yards on 24 carries (6.7 ypc) while allowing Texas only 79 yards on 33 carries (2.4 ypc) and allowed just three third down conversions.

Duke 31, Northwestern 23

The Duke offense could not be stopped early as it scored touchdowns on its first three possessions that went 77, 80 and 90 yards while Northwestern was forced to punt twice and missed a field goal on its first three possessions. The Wildcats offense got rolling after that as they got into Duke territory in eight of their final nine possessions but scored on just four of those as they turned it over on downs twice and fumbled twice including the final possession where they were going for the potential game-tying touchdown but fumbled into the endzone with 12 seconds remaining. Northwestern outgained the Blue Devils 511-461 but ran 35 more plays and averaged just 5.4 yards per play compared to 7.8 for Duke.

Arkansas 44, South Carolina 30

After the Arkansas defense forced a punt on the first possession of the game, the offense went 63 yards for the first of three straight touchdowns to build a 21-3 lead but the Gamecocks were able to shut out the Razorbacks offense for the next 23 minutes. South Carolina scored a pair of touchdowns to cut the lead to five points heading into the fourth quarter but the Razorbacks got the offense rolling again with three touchdowns on their next four possessions to pull away. Arkansas won the yardage battle 457-416 but ran 18 more plays thanks to a ground game that rushed for 295 yards on 65 carries (4.5 ypc) while allowing the Gamecocks only 40 yards rushing on 29 carries (1.4 ypc) but did allow 15.7 yards per completion.

UTSA 41, Army 38

After losing the season opener in triple overtime, UTSA was forced to overtime again but pulled this one out. It was back and forth early but Army was able to take control as it went 75 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown to end the first half and then took the opening second half kickoff and went 75 yards in nine plays to take a 28-14 lead. The Roadrunners then got their offense going as they scored a touchdown on their next three possessions but missed a field goal to win in regulation. The Roadrunners forced a field goal in overtime and won with a touchdown. They outgained Army 512-483 but gave up an unheard of 304 yards passing on a 23.4 completion average to the Black Knights.

Kansas St. 40, Missouri 12

The Wildcats surrendered a field goal on the Missouri opening possession but then took over after that as they went 75 yards on the ensuing possession to take a 7-3 lead. Kansas St. forced a punt that set up a 49-yard drive and another touchdown while returning the next punt 76 yards for a touchdown to break the game open. The defense allowed another field goal early in the third quarter and then intercepted a pass on the next four Tigers possessions but could get only 13 points off of those. Missouri scored a garbage touchdown with no time left after recovering a fumble. The Wildcats allowed only 222 total yards but their own offense managed just 336 yards as they went 4-13 on third down.

South Alabama 38, Central Michigan 24

South Alabama scored first to take a 6-0 lead and after the Chippewas grabbed a 7-6 lead, the Jaguars took over. They scored 25 points on their next four possessions and eventually built a 38-10 lead before Central Michigan made it look more respectable with a pair of late touchdowns. South Alabama outgained the Chippewas 502-338 as it ran 14 more plays and controlled the clock for 16 more minutes. The passing game led the way with 354 yards on a 13.6 completion average and while the running game kept the offense on the field, the Jaguars had only 148 yards rushing on 46 carries (3.2 ypc). The defense allowed just 81 yards rushing on 27 carries (3.0 ypc) and the Chippewas were just 4-19 on third and fourth down.

Western Michigan 37, Ball St. 30

Ball St. fumbled two plays into the game to set up a short field for Western Michigan and it took advantage by going 33 yards to take a 7-0 lead. The Cardinals scored on their next two possessions although one was a 20-yard field goal and after the Broncos regained the lead 14-13, Ball St. went 44 yards in just 27 seconds and kicked a field goal to take a lead into halftime. After Western Michigan scored touchdowns on two straight possessions to take the lead, Ball St. responded with an 85-yard touchdown drive but the Broncos capped the scoring with a 60-yard game winning touchdown run. Ball St. outgained the Broncos by 10 total yards despite running 15 fewer plays and having the ball for over eight less minutes.

Marshall 26, Notre Dame 21

Both teams punted and turned it over on downs on their first two possessions and Marshall struck first with a 79-yard touchdown drive and Notre Dame eventually took a 7-6 lead with three minutes left in the second quarter. Marshall took the ensuing possession 74 yards down to the Irish four-yard line and had to settle for a chip shot field goal to take a halftime lead. Notre Dame retook the lead early in the fourth quarter but the Thundering Herd got the lead back late in the quarter and then iced the game returning an interception 37 yards for a touchdown. Marshall outgained the Irish by 13 total yards with nearly even time of possession and both teams were just 4-13 on third down.

Appalachian St. 17, Texas A&M 14

After falling a two-point conversion short last week, Appalachian St. rebounded with a major upset at Texas A&M. The Mountaineers struck first after a fumble recovery led to a 29-yard touchdown drive but the Aggies responded by going 75 yards in seven plays and then their offense completely shut down. Texas A&M had only five possessions after that as its other touchdown came on a 95-yard kickoff return after Appalachian St. took a 14-7 lead and the Aggies mustered only 95 yards of offense while missing a game-tying field goal in the final minutes. The Mountaineers outgained Texas A&M 315-186 and held it to just nine first downs while possessing the ball for nearly 23 more minutes.

Memphis 37, Navy 13

Memphis took the opening kickoff and went 66 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead which it would never relinquish. After falling behind 10-0, Navy made it a three-point game after a 62-yard touchdown pass, one of only three completions on the day, but the Tigers outscored the Midshipmen 27-6 the rest of the way. They outgained Navy 506-314 and while the Tigers allowed 215 yards rushing, it was on 58 carries (3.7 ypc) and they forced three turnovers and stopped Navy twice on fourth down. Memphis had 415 yards through the air on a 17.3 completion average but the running game was held in check as the Tigers rushed for just 91 yards on 32 carries (2.8 ypc) and had only three rushing first downs.

Maryland 56, Charlotte 21

Maryland opened the game with a 79-yard touchdown drive in just five plays but Charlotte responded with a 16-play, 67-yard drive that took 7:12 to tie the game and then the Terrapins took over. While a 14-point lead was eventually cut in half, they were never in danger as the offense could not be stopped, scoring touchdowns on eight of their first nine possessions, with an interception being the only hiccup. Maryland outgained the 49ers 617-388 despite running 18 fewer plays as they averaged a healthy 10.0 yards per play compared to just 4.8 for Charlotte. The Terrapins finished 8-10 on third and fourth down while the 49ers finished 9-25 which included four fourth down conversions.

Air Force 41, Colorado 10

Colorado fumbled on its second play of the game to set up a short field and Air Force capitalized one play later with a 14-yard touchdown run. The Buffaloes managed only 14 total yards on their first five possessions which resulted in three punts and two turnovers as the Falcons built a 20-0 lead before Colorado finally put a touchdown drive together, going 71 yards on four plays. A fumble recovery led to a field goal that cut the lead to 10 points but the Buffaloes gained just 36 total yards in the second half. Air Force outgained Colorado 443-162 as the Buffaloes had just eight first downs and were only 5-21 passing for 51 yards. The Falcons racked up 435 yards rushing on 70 carries (6.2 ypc).

Tennessee 34, Pittsburgh 27

The Volunteers fell behind by 10 points on two separate occasions in the first half before scoring 17 straight points to end the half with a seven-point lead. After trading field goals early in the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh took advantage of a muffed punt by Tennessee that set up a short field which led to a 39-yard touchdown drive that actually took 10 plays in over five minutes. The Panthers deferred in overtime and allowed a touchdown before being held to five yards on eight plays to fall short. It was very even throughout as Tennessee won the yardage battle 416-415 and had one fewer first down and was clutch on defense when needed as it allowed only four third down conversions on 18 attempts.

Washington St. 17, Wisconsin 14

After scoreless first quarter, Washington St. took its first possession of the second quarter 53 yards to take a 7-0 lead. Wisconsin took the ensuing kickoff and went 65 yards to tie the game and then forced a punt with 55 seconds remaining in the first half and went 45 yards in 35 seconds to take a seven-point lead into the half. The Cougars opened the second half with a field goal and went ahead midway through the third quarter with a touchdown following an interception. Wisconsin got inside the Cougars 12-yard line on its last two possessions but turned it over both times. The Badgers outgained Washington St. 401-253 but the turnovers did them in as did 11 penalties for 106 yards.

Michigan St. 52, Akron 0

Akron opened the game with its best drive on the day as it went 55 yards but fumbled at the Michigan St. 20-yard line and never got past the Spartans 31-yard line the rest of the way. Overall, the Zips had 14 possessions which resulted in four fumbles, nine punts and a missed field goal. The Spartans were able to march at will but it was far from perfect early as in their first eight possessions, they scored 24 points on four of those while throwing two interceptions, turning it over on downs and punting once. They outgained Akron 496-225 with a very balanced offense and the defense allowed only 22 yards rushing on 27 carries (0.8 ypc) thanks in part to five sacks for 42 yards.

Eastern Kentucky 59, Bowling Green 57

Eastern Kentucky was one of four FCS teams to defeat an FBS team and this one took seven overtimes. Bowling Green jumped ahead 10-0 after the first quarter but Eastern Kentucky went on a 31-7 run that included four straight scoring drives that totaled 276 yards which was sandwiched around a fumble recovery for a touchdown. The Falcons responded with three straight touchdowns to take a seven-point lead but allowed the Colonels to drive 75 yards on 14 plays to tie the game with no time left in regulation. Eastern Kentucky knocked down a pass in the seventh overtime to seal the win. The Colonels had 12 more yards, one more first down and held a slight 5.3 to 5.1 yards per play edge.

Iowa St. 10, Iowa 7

Offense was non-existent for a second straight week for Iowa as it scored its lone touchdown on a 16-yard drive following a blocked punt. Not counting running the clock out at the end of the first half, Iowa had 11 other possessions that resulted in six punts, three turnovers that included a fumble at the Iowa St. one-yard line, a turnover on downs and a missed field goal with no time left that would have tied the game. The Cyclones were not efficient either as they had three turnovers and had two punts blocked while managing only 313 total yards. The go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter went 99 yards on 21 plays that took 11:49 off the clock. Iowa finished with 92 yards passing and 58 yards rushing.

California 20, UNLV 14

California started strong by scoring a touchdown on its first two possessions and had a chance for more but threw an interception at the UNLV 10-yard line on its third possession yet followed that up with a field goal and after gaining 285 yards on those first four drives, the Golden Bears had only 85 yards on offense the rest of the way. The Rebels eventually cut the California lead to six points midway through the third quarter but were unable to get another score over their final five possessions that included three failed fourth down attempts, the final one at the eight-yard line. UNLV was outgained 370-309 and had eight fewer first downs while going 2-16 on third and fourth down. 

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

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