Dan Mullen has his Florida Gators ready for a rare top-10 matchup with the Georgia Bulldogs
Week 9 of the college football season mixes in some always-entertaining rivalry games with plenty of intriguing and important conference matchups. There has been no lack of surprises to this point of the season but here are 10 stats to get you ready for this week's action.
2008: Last time Florida-Georgia game featured a matchup of top 10 teams
Regardless of the records, Florida vs. Georgia is always a must-watch affair. However, this year the stakes are incredibly high as the No. 9 Gators and No. 7 Bulldogs face off in Jacksonville, Florida, for control of the SEC East. Both teams come in 6-1 overall and 4-1 in the conference, the same record as No. 12 Kentucky. So the loser will not only fall a game behind the Wildcats (barring the outcome of their game against Missouri) but also can basically forget about getting into the College Football Playoff. So it's only fitting that a rivalry game carries so much significance, but this is just the sixth time where both teams are ranked in the top 10. The last time was in 2008 and that didn't go so well for Georgia as No. 5 Florida drubbed the eighth-ranked Bulldogs 49-10 on their way to winning the national title.
12-4: Florida State's record at home vs. Clemson
The Seminoles (4-3, 2-3 ACC) figure to be heavy underdogs going into Saturday's game against the No. 2 Tigers (7-0, 4-0), but FSU has done a pretty good protecting home field in this series. The 'Noles are 12-4 vs. Clemson at Doak Campbell Stadium, including their most recent win, 23-17 in 2014. The Tigers have won the last three by an average of 10 points per game and don't expect them to take FSU lightly. Home cooking will be needed for this one, as the ACC's 12th-ranked offense (362.1 ypg) goes up against the country's fourth-ranked defense (266.3 ypg).
164.2: Combined rushing yards per game for Stanford and Washington State this season
The No. 24 Cardinal (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12) host the No. 14 Cougars (6-1, 3-1) in a critical Pac-12 North Division matchup and don't be surprised if the ball is flying all over Stanford Stadium. As has come to be expected for a Mike Leach-coached team, Washington State enters this game with the nation's No. 1 passing attack. However, David Shaw's Stanford squad checks in at No. 34 as the Cardinal have become a pass-oriented offense this season. Injuries have rendered 2017 Heisman Trophy runner-up Bryce Love ineffective and no one has been able to pick up the slack while the offensive line has struggled as well.
In fact, Stanford (91.6 ypg) and Washington State (72.6) enter this game ranked 126th and 128th, respectively, in the nation in rushing offense. Only one other team (Northwestern) is in between them and just one team (San Jose State) is below the Cougars when it comes to running the ball. In fact, even if you combine the two teams' output on the ground, the 164.2 yards per game would barely top Arizona State (162.1 ypg) for eighth in the Pac-12. Don't expect a ground-and-pound approach from either team Saturday night.
42.3: Purdue's Big Ten-leading touchdown percentage allowed in the red zone
As lopsided as the Boliermakers' 49-20 upset of No. 2 Ohio State appears, the Buckeyes had their chances. Dwayne Haskins set Ohio State single-game records for both pass attempts (73) and completions (49) as the Buckeyes finished with 470 total yards and 31 first downs in the game. However, Ohio State could not cash in inside the red zone, as the Buckeyes managed a total of six points (two field goals) on five trips inside Purdue's 20-yard line. For the season, the Boilermakers' defense has done a good job of stiffening when teams get into the red zone, as they lead the Big Ten and are tied for 14th nationally in scoring percentage at 73.1 (19 of 26). Purdue's TD percentage (8 of 19, 42.3) in those situations is ninth in the FBS. Next up for the Boilermakers (4-3, 3-1 Big Ten) is a visit to East Lansing to face a Michigan State (4-3, 2-2) team that is fifth in the conference in red zone conversions (88.5 percent).
95.5: Opponents' scoring percentage in the red zone against Oklahoma's defense
The Sooners routed TCU 52-27 in Fort Worth on Saturday in what was one of OU's better defensive efforts of the season. Besides holding the Horned Frogs to 275 yards, a season low, the Sooners also go their first red zone stop of the season. It came in the third quarter when TCU's Cole Bunce missed a 38-yard field goal after the Horned Frogs had moved the ball to the 20-yard line.
For the season, Oklahoma has allowed opponents to score on 21 of 22 trips inside the red zone, which ranks 125th in the nation. And to make matters worse, 18 of the scores (81.8 percent) have been touchdowns. Only one other Power 5 team (Tennessee) has fared worse than OU in red zone defense, although to be fair, No. 5 Michigan (tied for 119th) and No. 14 Washington State (124th) haven't fared too much better in this department.
1: Iowa State's Big 12 ranking in total defense
The Cyclones (3-3, 2-2 Big 12) are just halfway to bowl eligibility, but if they get there it will probably be on the strength of their defense. Iowa State leads the Big 12 and is 20th nationally in total defense (316.7 ypg) and is either leads or is second in the conference in the three other major categories. The Cyclones' defensive prowess was definitely on display two weeks ago in their 30-14 win over then-No. 6 West Virginia, as they held Heisman Trophy contender Will Grier to just 100 passing yards on 11 completions with a touchdown and an interception while sacking him seven times.
Iowa State has done a good job of limiting big plays — WVU's longest in that game was 21 yards — and will need to continue to do so Saturday at home against Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are fourth in the nation in total offense (551.9 ypg) and seventh in scoring (43.9 ppg) behind an attack that ranks first in the Big 12 in plays of 10-plus yards (148) and has already generated 22 plays of 30 or more yards. On the flip side, Iowa State ranks first in the conference in fewest plays of 10 (71), 20 (23) and 30 (8) or more yards allowed.
2: Wins in a row for UCLA after starting season 0-5
The Bruins beat Arizona 31-30 to give Chip Kelly his first home win as head coach. While UCLA is going to threaten the Top 25 anytime soon, Kelly's team has a chance to continue to turn around their season. The back-to-back wins in conference play have put the Bruins (2-5, 2-2 Pac-12) right in the mix in what has become a crowded Pac-12 South race. Utah currently leads the division at 3-2 and that's who UCLA hosts on Friday night. A win over the No. 23 Utes and the Bruins not only have their first three-game winning streak since 2015, but they'll take at least a temporarily claim to first place in the division. Quite the change after starting the season 0-5.
2-to-1: Nick Fitzgerald's completion-to-interception ratio against LSU
The Bulldogs' quarterback had a game he would like to forget, as Fitzgerald completed just eight of his 24 attempts for 59 yards in the 19-3 loss to LSU. What's worse, the Tigers intercepted Fitzgerald four times meaning he completed twice as many passes and he had picks. Fitzgerald has struggled in new head coach Joe Moorhead's offense, as the senior dual threat is completing just 47 percent of his attempts and has more interceptions (seven) than touchdown passes (four). Mississippi State (4-3, 1-3 SEC) still needs two wins to become bowl eligible and next up is a home game with No. 16 Texas A&M. The Aggies are 11th in the SEC against the pass (241.7 ypg, 13 TDs, 3 INTs) so perhaps this is the game Fitzgerald finds his rhythm.
2015: Last time Cal had won a Pac-12 road game until Saturday
The Golden Bears dominated Oregon State 49-7 in Corvallis to not only snap their three-game losing streak but also to earn their first road victory in Pac-12 play in more than three calendar years. Prior to Saturday's win, the last time Cal had beaten a conference on the road was back on Sept. 26, 2015 when the Bears beat Washington 30-24. The victory ended a 13-game Pac-12 road losing streak and gives Cal (4-3) a shot at becoming bowl eligible, needing just two wins over their final five games. The task won't be easy, starting with Saturday's home against Washington, as the Bears' remaining schedule also includes road games against No. 14 Washington State and USC and home dates with No. 24 Stanford and Colorado.
0: Passes completed by Army in Saturday's win over Miami (Ohio)
The Black Knights improved to 5-2 with their 31-30 win over the RedHawks from the MAC. Army won despite not completing either of its two pass attempts. The Black Knights did run for 347 yards and four touchdowns on 74 carries (4.7 ypc). Not surprisingly, Army ranks second nationally in rushing offense (318.3 ypg) and second to last (128th) in passing (78.3 ypg). The Black Knights have attempted the second-fewest passes (60) of any FBS team, completed the fewest (27), and have just four touchdown passes (with three interceptions) on the season. With the win, Army improved to 4-1 in the last two seasons in games in which it did not complete a single pass.