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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:
1: Second it takes to win the SEC West
The officials put one second back on the clock — much to Auburn's chagrin — giving Alabama a 57-yard field goal attempt to win the SEC West. Except, the kick was short and Chris Davis returned it 109 unofficial yards for the win and the SEC West title in arguably the most dramatic finish to a college football game ... ever. One is also the number of times Nick Saban and Alabama have lost when rushing for at least 140 yards since the start of the 2008 season, a span of 61 games. Alabama gained 218 yards rushing while Auburn rushed for 296 yards — or 131 more yards than Alabama had allowed all season (165, Arkansas). It was just the fourth time in 77 games that Alabama has lost under Nick Saban while leading at halftime. Auburn now has wins over nine bowl teams and is 5-1 against teams ranked in the Sagarin Top 35.
42: Active record consecutive games with a turnover forced
Missouri forced a turnover against Texas A&M but that one forced fumble kept alive the nation's longest active streak of consecutive games with at least one turnover forced. For the 42nd straight game, the Tigers have taken the ball away from the opponent, and its a big reason why they finished 11-1. With an SEC East, SEC and BCS title hanging in the balance, Mizzou held Johnny Manziel and the Aggies to 379 yards and 5.4 yards per play — both of which would be season lows if not for LSU's performance against the reigning Heisman winner last weekend. In 2013, Gary Pinkel's team led the SEC in sacks (37), interceptions (18), takeaways (27), turnover margin (1.25) and tackles for loss (95).
2-14: Auburn, Missouri SEC record last year
According to @LVSuperBook back in August, Auburn was a 50-1 longshot to win the SEC while Missouri was 60-1. That's because these two programs went a combined 2-14 in SEC play last season. For all intents and purposes, these two Tigers were the 12th and 13th worst teams in the conference. Now, they will meet in Atlanta for an SEC crown and potential BCS national championship berth, depending on the Big Ten and ACC title games. Missouri wasn't supposed to be able to compete in the big, bad SEC and the 2-6 season last fall only strengthened the durability doubts of the Tigers. However, not only has Missouri bounced back to win the SEC East, but it did it in true SEC style — with a nasty, playmaking defense. Auburn, a team with a first-year head coach following a 0-8 campaign in the league, is rushing for more yards per game (318.3 ypg) than the entire offense averaged a year ago (305 ypg). On Saturday, a traditional SEC power that employs a zone-read spread option will face a former Big 12 team boasting the SEC's most physical and athletic defensive line.
49.1: Home scoring average for Arizona State
In crushing in-state rival Arizona 58-21 in the Territorial Cup on Saturday night, the Sun Devils clinched the best record in the Pac-12 (8-1) and earned the right to host the Pac-12 Championship Game. Not only does Arizona State avoid having to visit Palo Alto for the second time this year — a place where Stanford hasn't lost in 16 games — but it gets to play in Sun Devil Stadium — a place where ASU has been virtually unstoppable. The Sun Devils are sixth in the nation in home scoring average at 49.1 points per game. In six home games this year, Todd Graham's squad has scored at least 53 points five times.
226: Carlos Hyde rivalry-high rushing yards against Michigan
No Ohio State running back has ever rushed for more yards in "The Game" than Carlos Hyde did against the Wolverines on Saturday. He rushed 27 times for 226 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown in what might have been the best game between "Ohio" and "That Team Up North" in the long and storied history of the rivalry. Quarterback Braxton Miller accounted for five total touchdowns, rushed for 150 yards and played electric football all game long as well. Urban Meyer has won 24 straight games to start his OSU coaching career, tying Larry Coker for fourth all-time in NCAA history (Pop Warner, 30; Fielding Yost 29; Walter Camp, 28). Michigan and Ohio State have played 110 times and 2013 might have been the best version to date. The Game featured 1,129 yards of offense — 603 from Michigan's 96th ranked offense — three fighting ejections and the biggest two-point conversion attempt since Tom Osborne went for it in the 1984 Orange Bowl.
1966: The last time Michigan State was unbeaten in Big Ten play
With an ugly but convincing win over Minnesota at home, Mark Dantonio and the Spartans finished the year unblemished in Big Ten play. The 8-0 record is just the third such perfect Big Ten record for Michigan State and the first since 1966. The Spartans have allowed six points or less in five of the last six games and are leading the nation in total defense. Dantonio now sets his sights on the Rose Bowl as his Spartans take on Ohio State that has won 24 straight games in the Big Ten Championship Game. Michigan State hasn't been to the Rose Bowl since 1987 — when Nick Saban was the defensive coordinator. The 1965 season is the only other perfect Big Ten record in MSU history.
26-5: Connor Shaw's record as a starter
No South Carolina Gamecock has won more games than Connor Shaw. The gritty quarterback has set himself apart as the greatest signal caller to ever play at Williams-Brice Stadium. He began the season as the sixth-most efficient passer in SEC history (151.5) and all he has done is add to his underrated resume (156.2 in 2013). His 26 wins are the most in South Carolina history, and he set a Gamecocks record with 18 consecutive home wins (18-0). He went 3-0 against rival Clemson and helped his team defeat the hated Tigers five times in a row for the first time in rivalry history. He has rushed for 1,636 yards, 16 touchdowns and countless first downs on third down. He is seventh all-time in SEC history with a 64.7 career completion percentage and second only to Tee Martin (24) with 20 consecutive completions last year against Missouri. In terms of win percentage, Shaw is just behind names like Tim Tebow (86.6 percent) and Peyton Manning (86.7 percent) as one of the top 10 winningest SEC quarterbacks (83.8 percent). Shaw has 52 passing touchdowns and only 14 interceptions in his three seasons as the starter with just one interception and 23 scoring strikes in his last 13 games. He has to be considered as one of the league's all-time great leaders under center.
12-1: Mark Richt's record against Georgia Tech
Since taking over in Athens, Mark Richt has dominated the in-state rivalry with Georgia Tech titled "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate." Without starting quarterback Aaron Murray and after falling behind 20-0, Richt watched his team fight back over the final 30 minutes to force overtime. Richt has now won five straight and 12 out of 13 against the Yellow Jackets since taking over as the Georgia coach in 2001. Signal caller Hutson Mason, who got his first career start in place of Murray and will likely be the starter next fall, led the Bulldogs to a 41-14 run over the final 31 minutes and overtime. Todd Gurley scored three late touchdowns, and the defense forced one critical turnover.
1,068: Combined passing yards for Derek Carr and David Fales
Fresno State lost for the first time this year when San Jose State and David Fales topped the Bulldogs 62-52 on Friday. Fales was 37-of-45 for 547 yards and six touchdowns and didn't throw an interception. Derek Carr was 38-of-50 for 519 yards and had six touchdowns of his own for Fresno State. The 114 points is the second highest scoring game in college football this season behind Baylor's 73-42 win over West Virginia (115). The loss is costly for Tim DeRuyter as the Bulldogs are out of BCS bowl contention with just one loss.
1927-28: The last time Vanderbilt won eight games in back-to-back seasons
With yet another late turnover and another late comeback, Vanderbilt topped Wake Forest 23-21 to finish the regular season with an impressive 8-4 mark. It is the Commodores second straight season with at least eight wins for the first time in 85 years, dating back to 1927-28 (the last time Vandy posted back-to-back winning seasons was 1974-75). Coach James Franklin's teams have proven themselves in the most critical of times, winning their last nine November games and 10 of 12 all-time under Franklin during the season's final month. With three consecutive bowl berths, this is without question the most successful three-year run in program history.