Misleading College Football Scores, Week 2: Teams Better, Worse Than They Seemed
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: LSU’s Joe Burrow and Wisconsin’s Alex Hornibrook
- Final scores are not always great indicators of how a game played out, especially in college football.
- Ken Barkley is back to give you the most misleading, interesting and confusing box scores that will help you bet as the season moves on.
While Aaron Rodgers was leading a comeback for the ages at Lambeau Field Sunday night, I was scouring box-score data of Week 2’s college football games. While he was leading drives, I was checking drive charts. While he was scoring touchdowns, I was checking when they occurred.
It was less glamorous, but we were both heroes last night. High-five, Aaron. We did it.
Here are some college football final scores that are a little misleading based on what actually happened inside the box score.
Wisconsin 45, New Mexico 14
I’ve been interested in fading the Badgers, because I’m not sure the average person realizes just how many pieces they’ve been missing, and how many new pieces they’ve been integrating.
Week 1 against Western Kentucky was a demolition, but was that because Wisconsin is at its peak? Or because the Hilltoppers are one of the worst teams in FBS this season? Well, WKU lost to Maine in Week 2, so how do you feel now?
As for this game, New Mexico scored on a 17-play drive to open the game. Wisconsin led only 10-7 at halftime.
What the Badgers do that makes them appear in this type of column so frequently is physically overpower lesser opponents late in games and essentially make them submit in the fourth quarter to a slew of rushing chunk plays that inflate the scoreline. This game was no different.
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The question isn’t whether Wisconsin is good. It’s that when the Badgers finally play teams in conference that can’t be completely manhandled, what other warts will start to show?
BYU (+22) comes to Camp Randall this week, then the Badgers go to Iowa (whose defensive front has been fantastic so far) the week after.
Wisconsin is now 0-2 ATS this year.
LSU 31, Southeastern Louisiana 0
This should be taken with a grain of salt, because LSU was in a complete letdown situation between a win over Miami and Auburn coming up this week. The Bayou Bengals were never going to be THAT sharp here, but the stats are still unkind.
Southeastern had more first downs (18-15), only 81 fewer total yards and actually held the ball longer. Its problem? Turnovers and big plays.
Southeastern was -3 in turnover margin, and allowed a Hail Mary we all saw over and over on highlight shows to close the first half.
Make no mistake, though, this was a VERY poor LSU effort. Joe Burrow was just 10 for 20 in the game, after drawing all kinds of praise for his poise against Miami.
Those fearful of Ed Orgeron’s coaching effect can point to games such as this one for further evidence.
Duke 21, Northwestern 7
A head-scratching series of events, for sure. These were (correctly) regarded by many as evenly matched, well-coached teams. I was on Duke +3 early in the week, so I didn’t mind this run-out of events at all.
But this was not nearly as glamorous for the Blue Devils as you might imagine. Northwestern had 23 first downs to Duke’s 14 and outgained the Blue Devils in total yards, 282-204. Turnovers did in the Wildcats.
The second half is where things get truly crazy, though. Duke had seven second-half possessions. It punted seven times.
Do you know how hard it is to win on the road by two touchdowns when you do that? Northwestern just couldn’t sustain drives. The Wildcats were 1 for 5 on fourth down, and turned it over on downs three times in the second half, including once inside the Duke 5-yard line.
I would be very cautious to elevate or lower either team too much based on this (though Duke lost its quarterback to a collarbone injury). These teams were probably were dead-even in reality.
Ole Miss 76, Southern Illinois 41
I don’t even really know what to say here. If you had Southern Illinois +28, I am so, so sorry. Also, if you had Southern Illinois +28, we should hang out, because I think I want to be friends with people that bet things such as Southern Illiinois +28 on a busy Saturday.
This game was 38-35 Salukis at halftime, and 49-41 Rebels entering the fourth. But boy, when the wheels came off for the underdog, they came flying off and launched into space at light speed.
- Interception returned for touchdown.
- Fumble returned for touchdown.
In a matter of minutes, this became a blowout. The capper was Rebels quarterback-of-the-future Matt Corral scoring with a couple minutes left to give Ole Miss the cover.
In the end, the Salukis had more first downs than the Rebels, were almost dead-even in total yards (646-629), ran the ball better and had a massive edge in time of possession.
With Alabama on deck, Ole Miss (+20.5 against the Tide) was looking ahead as much as a team can ever do that. Still, not a great sign for the defense.
Louisville 31, Indiana State 7
We all saw Louisville in prime time in Week 1 when it played Alabama. A lot of that game can be attributed to be the Tide’s sheer excellence … or was it?
Louisville was tied with Indiana State 7-7 at halftime, and led by just a touchdown entering the fourth quarter before pulling away.
The most important thing here? Quarterback Jawon Pass, who got a lot of the headlines before the season, was completely ineffective and benched for redshirt freshman Malik Cunningham.
Cunningham is a more effective runner, and as a result of that extra dimension, the Cardinals did enough on the ground to pull away. Still, it’s a situation worth monitoring.
The Cardinals not only lost Lamar Jackson from last year’s team, but were 127th in the country in returning defensive production. Is there really that much talent here? Thankfully for Louisville, it hosts traveling punching bag Western Kentucky (-21.5) this week, which probably isn’t a whole lot better than the Sycamores.
UL Monroe 21, Southern Miss 20
And now, one with a personal touch. Because I was probably one of the very few people following this play-for-play while Clemson-Texas A&M was going on. And for those of us with Southern Miss -5, this was particularly gut-wrenching.
Southern Miss won in first downs 23-13, had nearly double the passing yards (378-195) and still found a way to lose at home to a Sun Belt team. How did the Eagles do it?
Well, to start with they had four turnovers. One was on the final Hail Mary and should be sort of dismissed, but still, they lost the turnover battle. One of those was taken back for a touchdown.
But here’s really the keeper: four of Southern Miss’ six drives in the second half went into Monroe territory, and the Golden Eagles got a TOTAL of three points from those drives. That is incredibly hard to do.
Missed field goals, turnovers on downs. This one had it all.
So yeah, follow my plays in the app, and next week this level of success can be yours!