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Highlighting the most important, interesting and historic stats from this week in college football
Numbers and statistics are unquestionably a huge part of the game. Any game, for that matter.
Some fall on the sabermetric side of things, while others like to keep it simple and use the ol' eyeball test. In the football world, that means total offense, total defense and points scored versus points per play and defensive efficiency ratings. Rational and logical arguments can be made for the legitimacy and relevance of both sides of the stats spectrum.
With that in mind, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of college football action:
101: SEC championship game record for total points
The mighty SEC saw little to no defense in Atlanta on Saturday night. Auburn (28) and Mizzou (27) set an SEC championship game record with 55 first half points. The game ended with a SEC championship game-record 101 total points scored — 26 more than the previous record (75) set in 1996 by Florida and Alabama. Auburn also set an SEC title game record with 676 yards of offense, 544 yards rushing and 59 points. Tre Mason carried the load with an SEC title game record 46 carries, an SEC championship record 304 yards and, you guessed it, an SEC title game record four touchdowns in the win. The previous record for yards was set by Auburn with 589 in 2010. Missouri began the weekend ranked No. 2 in the SEC in rushing defense (119.1 ypg) but will finish eighth (151.8 ypg) after the carnage in the Georgia Dome. All in all, Auburn set 16 SEC title game records on Saturday. Gus Malzahn was relentless in his play calling as he rode his zone-read triple option to an SEC championship in just his first season as a head coach in the nation's toughest league.
3: SEC coaches to win the league in their first season
Gus Malzahn became the third head coach in SEC history, and the first in the championship game era, to win a conference crown in his first trip through the league with the impressive showing against Mizzou. Malzahn joined Bernie Moore, who led LSU to a 9-2 record in 1935, and John Vaught, who led Ole Miss to a 9-2 record in 1947, as first-year coaches to win SEC titles. Malzahn took a winless SEC team that averaged 305.0 yards per game on offense — 118th in the nation — and turned them into SEC champions in one offseason, and now the Tigers will play for the BCS National Championship in Pasadena against the Florida State.
17 and 46: Ohio State plays and total yards in the final 20 minutes
There are a lot of stats to like about the Big Ten championship game. Michigan State snapped Ohio State's 24-game winning streak to go to its first Rose Bowl since 1987. Connor Cook, the game's MVP, threw for a career high 304 yards and three touchdowns in the signature performance of his young career. But over the final 20 minutes, the Spartans defense was the story. Ohio State scored with 5:36 left in the third quarter to take its first lead of the game, but Mark Dantonio's defense completely shut down Ohio State the rest of the way. The Buckeyes had four possession in which they ran 17 plays for 46 total yards during the final 20:36 of play. Those four drives ended in two punts and two turnovers on downs. Meanwhile, the Spartans scored 17 unanswered to win the Big Ten championship.
57-14: Stanford's combined first-half score over Arizona State in two games
Back in September, Stanford jumped out to a 29-0 halftime lead over the Sun Devils in Palo Alto. The Cardinal eventually pushed the lead to 39-7 before letting off the pedal and winning 42-28. Two months later, nothing has changed as Stanford blitzed ASU in the first half of the Pac-12 championship game. Kevin Hogan and Tyler Gaffney posted a 28-7 second-quarter lead and a 28-14 halftime margin. David Shaw's bunch never looked back, crushing the Sun Devils 38-14 for its second consecutive Pac-12 championship — the first time the school has done that since 1970-71. The Michigan State-Stanford Rose Bowl will be as physical as a football game can get in the modern era of spread offenses and touchy officiating.
1-8: Mike Gundy's record against Oklahoma
Over the last four years, Oklahoma State is 41-10 overall with three seasons of at least 10 wins. But Mike Gundy just can't seem to solve the Bedlam riddle. The Sooners, led by starter-turned-backup Blake Bell, drove 66 yards on eight plays to score the game-winning touchdown with 19 seconds left. The loss wasn't just a bitter defeat at the hands of an in-state archival. Oklahoma State was a double-digit favorite at home needing a win to clinch a BCS bowl and win the Big 12 championship. Moreover, Oklahoma State had the lead with less than two minutes to play. The loss knocks Oklahoma State out of the Fiesta Bowl and pushes Gundy's record against Oklahoma and Bob Stoops to 1-8.
1980: Baylor's last outright conference championship
Technically, the Bears earned a share of the 1994 Southwest Conference championship. However, Texas A&M had the best record in the league (10-0-1) but was ineligible as Baylor tied with Texas, TCU, Texas Tech and Rice at 4-3 for a five-way split championship. But the last time the Bears won an outright conference championship was the 10-2 squad of 1980 coached by Grant Teaff. Only twice prior to 2013 had Baylor won 10 games in a season (1980, 2011) and had never won 11 games in school history. In fact, the last time Baylor finished a season with just one loss was a 5-1-2 Frank Bridges-coached team in 1923. The Bears will play in their first BCS game in program history when it meets UCF in the Fiesta Bowl. The icy cold 30-10 drubbing of Texas was a perfect way to put an end to Floyd Casey Stadium.
38: Jameis Winston's NCAA freshman passing TD record
He is the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy for a reason. Jameis Winston has led the Seminoles to a perfect 13-0 record, an ACC championship and a berth in the BCS National Championship Game against . He is the nation's most efficient passer (190.06) and has thrown more touchdown passes than any freshman in NCAA history. With three scoring strikes in the easy win over Duke in the ACC title game, Winston passed Sam Bradford's NCAA freshman passing TD record of 36. The Noles signal caller finished the year with 3,820 yards, 38 touchdowns, 10 interceptions on 67.9-percent passing to go with 193 yards rushing and four more touchdowns on the ground.
42.3: Average margin of victory for Florida State in 2013
After topping Duke 45-7 in the ACC title game, Florida State won all 13 games it played this fall and earned a spot in the BCS National Championship Game against Auburn. But the Noles didn't slip into the title game like the Tigers did. Florida State didn't need any help from Michigan State, Oklahoma State or Utah. The Seminoles crushed the opposition all season. Jimbo Fisher's squad outscored its 13 opponents 689-139 for an average margin of victory of more than six touchdowns per game. Again, that's more than six touchdowns per game. There is a reason they are the clearcut No. 1 team in the polls — even if they are facing the "Team of Destiny" in Pasadena.
7: Games UCF won by one score or less
Its first bowl appearance in school history came in 2005 and its first bowl win in school history came in 2010. And now, UCF will play in its first BCS bowl less than two decades since making its FBS debut. The Knights proved that in one season it could step up in competition and find success, moving from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference. With a 17-13 win over SMU, the AAC champions finished 8-0 in league play and 11-1 overall. It's the best record in school history, and it didn't come easy. Seven of those 11 wins were by one touchdown or less. UCF beat Penn State, Memphis, Louisville, Houston, Temple, USF and SMU by a combined 28 points.
1957: Rice's last outright conference championship
The Owls (10-3) rolled through Marshall 41-24 in the Conference USA championship game. The Thundering Herd had been averaging more 50 points per game during its five-game winning streak entering the weekend but David Bailiff's defense held Marshall to just 24 points, 371 yards and only 4.8 yards per play. It is Rice's first outright conference championship since winning the Southwest Conference in 1957.