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.
Vanderbilt 38, Northern Illinois 28
Northern Illinois took control of this game early but the loss of starting quarterback Rocky Lombardi in the second quarter was too much to overcome down the stretch. Vanderbilt took the opening kickoff and went 80 yards in 12 plays to take a 7-0 lead and eventually stretched that to 14-7 but the Huskies scored twice in the final five minutes of the second quarter and then opened the second half with a 75-yard drive in three plays to take a two-touchdown lead. Vanderbilt scored the final 24 points as the defense forced three punts, had two fourth down stops and an interception over the final six Huskies possessions. The Commodores outgained Northern Illinois 428-354 on 10 more plays.
Alabama 63, UL-Monroe 7
Alabama dominated in all three areas as it scored on offense, defense and special teams for its first three touchdowns and jumped out to a 28-0 lead after the first quarter. The Tide scored three non-offensive touchdowns as it ran an interception back 25 yards for a touchdown, blocked a punt for a scoop and score and returned a punt 68 yards for another touchdown. The offense did stall after its opening touchdown as they were forced to punt, turned it over on downs and threw an interception in three of the next four possessions. Still, Alabama outgained UL-Monroe 509-169 despite having the ball for over 12 minutes less as the defense allowed only 11 first downs and forced 12 punts.
Kansas 48, Houston 30
Kansas pulled off another road upset as it was able to come from behind yet again. The Jayhawks spotted Houston a 14-0 lead as the Cougars forced Kansas to punt in its first two possessions and turned both of those into touchdown drives but then the Jayhawks offense took over. They scored touchdowns on six of their next seven possessions, with the lone exception being a drive ended only by halftime, and carried a 28-14 lead into the break. The Cougars cut it to within seven points but Kansas pulled away with another pair of touchdowns. Houston actually outgained Kansas but was hurt by 10 penalties for 73 yards while its two turnovers turned into 14 points for the Jayhawks, two drives totaling 31 yards.
Washington St. 38, Colorado St. 7
The Cougars started fast as they scored touchdowns on their first four possessions to take a 28-0 lead into halftime. Washington St. cooled off the jets in the second half on offense as it had a field goal, two punts, a turnover on downs and an interception in its first five drives of the second half before scoring a late touchdown. The defense was the real story as Colorado St. could muster nothing early in the game as in their first nine possessions, they had no drive more than 48 yards as they punted five times, had two turnovers, were stopped on downs and missed a field goal. The Cougars won the yardage battle 442-249 including allowing 37 yards rushing on 31 carries (1.2 ypc) and had seven sacks.
Bowling Green 34, Marshall 31
There was no letdown for Marshall early as it jumped out to a 14-0 lead after only 2:32 of the game, going 75 yards in four plays in its opening possession, forcing a punt and then going 79 yards in two plays for its second touchdown. Bowling Green punted in its first five possessions, all three and outs, before the offense finally got going as the Thundering Herd scored touchdowns on three straight drives to tie the game at 21-21 and tied it again late in the fourth quarter to send it to overtime. After forcing a field goal, the Falcons scored the winning touchdown two plays later in overtime. Marshall outgained the Falcons 547-377 but it had three turnovers that led to 14 points for Bowling Green.
Wake Forest 37, Liberty 36
Wake Forest looked as though it would pull away comfortably as it built early leads of 10-0 and 20-5 before Liberty ran off 18 consecutive points to take a 23-20 lead in the third quarter before a wild final 15 minutes. After tying the game with a field goal, Wake Forest regained the lead before Liberty came back to tie three minutes later but the Demon Deacons responded again two minutes later with another touchdown. The Flames got it back with over three minutes left and went 80 yards for a touchdown, elected to go for two points and missed. Liberty outgained the Demon Deacons 437-346 but had four costly turnovers that led to 14 points. Wake Forest rushed for only 21 yards on 26 carries (0.8 ypc).
LSU 31, Mississippi St. 16
Mississippi St. forced a punt on its first defensive possession and went 87 yards on nine plays to grab a 6-0 lead after a missed extra point. The Tigers could not get nothing going on offense as in the next five possessions, they punted four times and lost a fumble and the Bulldogs were able to extend the lead to 13-0 late in the second quarter. LSU finally put a drive together as it went 75 yards in seven plays in 1:28 to cut the lead to 13-7 at halftime. After trading field goals in the third quarter, LSU scored three fourth quarter touchdowns to pull away, the first one aided by a muffed punt recovered at the nine-yard line. LSU outgained Mississippi St. 420-287 as it held the Bulldogs to 73 yards rushing on 23 carries (3.2 ypc).
Tennessee 63, Akron 6
It was a small stumble for Tennessee early in the game as it missed a field goal on its first drive but then scored touchdowns on its next six possessions to easily take control of the game. The first five touchdown drives were all 74 yards or more and the offense was forced to punt only twice all game. The Volunteers racked up 676 total yards with the passing game being explosive, going 20-25 with four touchdown passes and a massive 21.9 yards per completion average. The Zips were held to 276 yards of total offense, including just 35 yards rushing on 24 carries (1.5 ypc) and they were held to going just 1-13 on third down. The Volunteers outgained Akron 9.7 to 3.9 in yards per play.
Memphis 44, Arkansas St. 32
This was a back and forth game throughout the afternoon that the Tigers ultimately survived. Arkansas St. forced a punt on its first defensive possession and went 80 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead but Memphis responded with a 75-yard drive in eight plays to force a tie after the first quarter. Back-to-back touchdowns started the second quarter and the Tigers eventually took a 21-17 lead into halftime. Memphis grabbed an 11-point lead early in the fourth and after the Red Wolves regained the lead, the Tigers took it right back shortly thereafter and then recovered a fumble, setting up its final touchdown. Memphis outgained Arkansas St. 547-370 in total yardage and 7.5 to 5.6 yards per play.
NC State 27, Texas Tech 14
After a punt to open the game, NC State kicked field goals on its next two possessions and scored its first touchdown of the game two possessions later and on the ensuing kickoff, Texas Tech was driving but the Wolfpack intercepted a pass and returned in 84 yards for a touchdown to take a 20-0 lead. The Red Raiders were able to find the endzone prior to the half but the Wolfpack defense allowed only one touchdown in the second half as well as they forced a punt, a turnover on downs and intercepted two more passes. NC State was outgained 353-270 but Texas Tech was only 3-16 on third and fourth down while four turnovers also did them in. The teams combined for just 165 yards rushing.
Charlotte 42, Georgia St. 41
After opening the season with three bad losses, Charlotte picked up the surprising road win. Georgia St. went 73 yards in 12 plays to open the game with a touchdown drive but the 49ers responded on the next possession by going 75 yards in nine plays to tie the game and the Panthers took a 14-7 lead after the first quarter after another long drive. Charlotte returned a fumble 58 yards for a touchdown and then put up another offensive touchdown to take it first lead that it would hold until 1:43 left but went 69 yards in 1:16 to score the game winner. Georgia St. won the yardage battle 602-501 but ran 23 more plays and was on the wrong side of the yards per play average at 7.6 to 6.8.
Iowa 27, Nevada 0
The Iowa offense finally got going but it was far from great against a bad defense as the Hawkeyes managed only 337 yards of total offense on just 5.5 yards per play. After punting on its first two possessions, Iowa was able to score on its next three drives with a pair of touchdowns and a field goal but those touchdown drives were only 40 and 41 yards. The offense did sputter the rest of the way as in their last seven possessions, the Hawkeyes punted five times while scoring only twice. The defense made up for it as they allowed only 151 total yards on 2.4 yards per play including 69 yards rushing on 36 carries (1.9 ypc). Nevada never got closer to the endzone than the Hawkeyes 39-yard line.
Maryland 34, SMU 27
The Maryland offense came up clutch when it was needed but it was the defense that decided this game. There were five lead changes and three ties and the Terrapins rallied from down one touchdown in the second half to score two fourth quarter touchdowns. In total, Maryland forced two interceptions, one fumble, three turnovers on downs and one missed field goal and those led to 20 of its 34 points. The Mustangs outgained Maryland 520-439 but ran 35 more plays and finished at a 7.2 to 5.4 disadvantage in yards per play. The Terrapins were well balanced on offense but finished 5-13 on third down and a couple miscues hurt two drives yet what really hurt them were 15 penalties for 141 yards.
UCF 40, Florida Atlantic 14
Florida Atlantic controlled most of the first half as it opened the game with an 87-yard touchdown drive in six plays to strike first and after going into the second quarter down 14-7, the Knights put up a touchdown and a field goal to take a 16-14 lead into the break and the defense would allow nothing else the rest of the game. The offense scored the final 33 points of the game and ended it on the Florida Atlantic five-yard line so there could have been more and over the last eight Owls possessions not counting the end of the half, UCF forced six punts, a turnover and a missed field goal. The Knights outgained Florida Atlantic 653-296 as they ran 33 more plays and had over a 12-minute edge in time of possession.
Pittsburgh 34, Western Michigan 13
Pittsburgh was able to hold off Western Michigan with a big fourth quarter as the Panthers won with their fourth string quarterback starting under center. Pittsburgh jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never allowed the Broncos to get within fewer than seven points which they did at the end of the third quarter following a 75-yard, three-play drive to get to within 20-13. The Panthers took the ensuing kickoff and went 74 yards in 12 plays in 7:07 and then tacked on a late score after forcing the Broncos to punt twice in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh outgained Western Michigan 417-180 and allowed just 50 yards rushing on 29 carries (1.7 ypc), gave up just 11 first downs and had the ball for over 17 more minutes.
Florida 31, South Florida 28
Florida had its hands full the entire game as it went ahead early 3-0 but the Bulls drove 81 yards in 12 plays on its next possession to take a 7-3 lead which the Gators quickly took back on a three-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. South Florida cut the lead to 24-13 at halftime and then scored two additional touchdowns, the first one following an interception leading to an 18-yard drive. The Gators tossed another pick but intercepted it back three plays later and went 28 yards for the go ahead score. The Bulls were driving but had a bad snap to force a long third down and another bad snap prevented a tying field goal. The Bulls outyarded Florida 402-329 but ran 26 more plays and were outgained 6.9 to 5.4 yards per play.
Rice 33, Louisiana 21
Rice snapped the Louisiana 15-game winning streak in dominating fashion even though the score did not reflect that although it did not start out very good. In four first quarter possessions, the Owls punted, kicked a short field goal and threw two interceptions, one which was returned 54 yards for a touchdown before the offense settled down. Rice scored in five of its final seven possessions and after trailing 14-10, it outscored the Cajuns 23-7 the rest of the way. The Owls outgained Louisiana 449-175 and they were able to control the clock for over 24 more minutes, ran 37 more plays (80-43) and had 27 first downs compared to just nine for the Cajuns. Louisiana did not help itself as it had 11 penalties for 85 yards.
Washington 39, Michigan St. 28
Washington received the opening kickoff and went 77 yards in seven plays for a touchdown and never looked back. The Huskies did fail on fourth down at the Michigan St. two-yard line on their next possession but scored touchdowns in their next four possessions on drives of 50, 60, 65 and 70 yards while also scoring on a safety to build a 29-8 lead at halftime. Washington got the lead to 25 points early in the fourth quarter before the Spartans tacked on a pair of garbage touchdowns. The Huskies outgained Michigan St. 503-365 with 173 of those 365 yards allowed coming in the fourth quarter. The Spartans passing game was solid but they rushed for only 42 yards on 29 carries (1.4 ypc).
New Mexico 27, UTEP 10
It was a big first half for New Mexico as after exchanging punts on the opening possessions, the Lobos went 62 yards to kick a field goal for a 3-0 lead and then picked off a pass two plays later and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown. UTEP put up a field goal near the end of the first quarter but Mexico scored 10 more unanswered points to take a 20-3 lead into the break. Overall, the Lobos offense was very average as they managed only 299 total yards on a 4.7 yards per play average but were able to hold the ball for over 13 more minutes. A large reason was because of the defense that allowed 353 yards but included only 54 yards rushing on 21 carries (2.6 ypc) while forcing seven turnovers.
Clemson 48, Louisiana Tech 20
The Tigers had their best offensive performance of the young season as they racked up 521 total yards after a slow start. Clemson never trailed but the first half could have gone either way as the Tigers were held to a 22-yard field goal on their first possession and after going up 10-0, Louisiana Tech was able to keep it tight and closed the half with a field goal to trail only 13-6 at the break. Clemson broke it open in the third quarter with three consecutive touchdowns which came after a pair of interceptions and a turnover on downs that accumulated only 152 yards and then scored its last touchdown on a 12-yard drive. The Bulldogs had only 317 yards of offense including six yards rushing on 20 carries (0.3 ypc).
Texas 41, UTSA 20
UTSA caught the Longhorns in early letdown mode as it forced a punt on the opening possession and went the other way for a field goal to take a 3-0 lead and after Texas countered with a touchdown, the Roadrunners went 65 yards in 10 plays to take a 10-7 lead. A surprising onsides kick was recovered by UTSA and it went 52 yards in two plays to take a 10-point lead before the Longhorns took over. Texas outscored the Roadrunners 34-3 the rest of the way as the defense forced four punts, stopped a pair of fourth downs and had an interception over the last eight possessions. Texas won the yardage battle 459-408 but on 25 fewer plays as it had a 7.8 to 4.9 yards per play advantage.
Texas A&M 17, Miami Fla. 9
The quarterback change for the Aggies did not help the offense very much but the defense carried them. Texas A&M and Miami traded field goals to open the game then the Aggies forced a fumble which led to a 28-yard touchdown drive toward the end of the first quarter. The offense lagged for the majority of the remainder of the game as Texas A&M punted in five of their final seven possessions while scoring just one touchdown and ended the first half at their own 44-yard line. The Hurricanes could muster only two more field goals despite outgaining the Aggies 392-264 but ran 25 more plays and the yards per play average was identical at 5.1. The three field goal drives totaled 219 yards of the Miami offense.
Utah 35, San Diego St. 7
After a scoreless first quarter, Utah opened the scoring in the second quarter on a 77-yard touchdown drive and then forced a punt and went another 82 yards on the next possession to take a 14-0 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, the Utes forced a fumble and went 27 yards to take a 21-0 lead into the break. Utah scored all five touchdowns on consecutive drives between the second and third quarters and the defense was strong throughout the entire game. In 11 defensive possessions, the Utes forced eight punts, had a turnover on downs and an interception and the only touchdown allowed came on a 25-yard drive with four minutes left as they held the Aztecs to 173 yards and nine first downs.
USC 45, Fresno St. 17
The USC offense was extremely efficient to start the game as it scored on its first three possessions on long touchdown drives that consisted of 12, 12 and 15 plays as the Trojans built a 21-3 lead before the Bulldogs got into the endzone late in the first half to cut the lead to 11 points at halftime. The second half started like the first half as USC scored touchdowns on its first three possessions while Fresno St. was ineffective in getting points as it had 252 yards in five second half possessions but scored only one touchdown as it fumbled, missed a field goal and turned it over on downs twice. USC outgained Fresno St. 517-421 but yards per play were even at 6.8 as the Trojans ran 13 more plays.
Eastern Michigan 30, Arizona St. 21
The Herm Edwards era came to an end following a loss to Eastern Michigan as the Sun Devils were dominated from the start. Eastern Michigan jumped out to a 10-0 lead after the first quarter and after both teams traded a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter, the Eagles retained that lead heading into halftime. Both teams had only four second half possessions and neither looked good on offense with the Eagles coming away with a pair of field goals and Arizona St. scoring a touchdown but also turned it over on downs, punted, and fumbled on its last drive. Eastern Michigan outgained the Sun Devils 458-352 but needed 18 more plays to do so as it was outgained 6.4 to 6.3 yards per play.