Misleading College Football Scores, Week 4: When the Wrong Team Wins
Christopher Hanewinc-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Gus Malzahn
- Week 4 was a wild one in college football, featuring a handful of teams pulling out games they had no business winning.
- Ken Barkley dives into the box scores to tell you who is for real and who isn't based on last week's results.
Sure, some results are misleading. Sure, teams lose the turnover battle, and even though they play much better, they lose. We all kind of understand that, and then move on with our lives.
But in Week 4, there was a whole new category of game. Forget “misleading.” How about “the wrong team won, this sport is stupid, and if you disagree you don’t have eyes.”
Yes, hello Oregon backers! Yet another piece of sports betting content that allows you to relive an incredibly harsh defeat. Why move on to Week 5 when we can just repeatedly poke you with a stick and ask why Justin Herbert didn’t take a knee to essentially close out the game?
But no, really, that would be harsh. So let’s move on. Here are some non-Oregon games that were a bit head-scratching in terms of the final outcome.
Temple 31, Tulsa 17 (Thursday)
I think this final score isn’t surprising to anyone who follows both teams, and in many ways, it was the final score a lot of people expected. But my god, Tulsa had a lot of opportunities to make this closer and did nothing with them.
Tulsa won total yards by about 100, and had DOUBLE the first downs of Temple (32-16).
The Golden Hurricanes were not only done in by five turnovers, but two of those turnovers were returned for touchdowns. They also missed a field goal and had one of those five turnovers occur just outside the red zone around the Temple 35.
This whole game was basically Tulsa’s offense repeatedly shooting itself in the foot. Does Temple’s defense deserve credit for any of this? Sure!
But I doubt the strategy was “give them like five first downs per drive and then…when they least expect it… we strike!”
- Temple (+14) at Boston College
- Tulsa: Bye
Penn State 63, Illinois 24 (Friday)
This almost invokes as much anger and sadness as Stanford-Oregon, so I’ll just say, Illinois was much closer in the box score, and was close in the game (leading 24-21 in the third quarter) before giving up 42 unanswered and losing the cover as well.
And that’s all I’ll say. We can move on.
- Penn State (+4) vs. Ohio State
- Illinois Bye
Georgia 43, Missouri 29
If there was an investigation years from now that figured out Missouri was trying to not cover this game, I would believe you. It was really an incredible 60 minutes to watch.
Missouri lost total yards by only about 50, had more first downs, and the teams had exactly the same yards per carry on the ground.
In the first half, though (just the first half, mind you) Missouri had the following things happen:
- Fumble returned for a touchdown
- Missed field goal, an interception
- Punt returned for a touchdown
- Fumble in Georgia territory
That was just the first half, but it gave the Bulldogs a multi-score lead, so we never really saw them sweat. You can give Georgia’s defense and special teams credit, of course, but you could also say Missouri players really need to hang onto the ball, and learn to tackle effectively.
- Georgia (N/A) vs. Tennessee
- Missouri: Bye
Oklahoma 28, Army 21
This final score isn’t actually misleading, it just allows me to write a couple incredible sentences about the box score because of the style the two teams play.
When you have the most methodical offense against the most explosive one, weird things happen. Oklahoma won a game where it had the ball for 15 minutes and 19 seconds. That’s all I really wanted to type.
Army’s TDs vs. Oklahoma:
* 16 plays, 75 yards, 9 minutes, 31 seconds.
* 16, 75, 8:54
* 19 — NINETEEN! — 85, 10:47
Those are not drives. They’re CAMPAIGNS.
— George Schroeder (@GeorgeSchroeder) September 23, 2018
- Oklahoma (-24) vs. Baylor
- Army (+7.5) at Buffalo
Auburn 34, Arkansas 3
One of the weirdest games of the entire season, unquestionably. I don’t even really know where to begin.
If I said Jarrett Stidham was 15 of 22 for 134 yards and no touchdowns, and then that Auburn also ran the ball for only 2.5(!) yards per carry, how many guesses would it take you to come up with 34-3 as the final score? Infinity?
Arkansas lost a game by 31 in which it had an equal number of first downs, won total yards by 65, ran the ball better and had the ball longer. Do you know how hard that is to do?
Essentially, if the offenses and defenses played the whole game, you’d end up with a close result. But unfortunately for the Razorbacks, their special teams unit played in this game.
Arkansas’ special teams allowed a long punt return in the first quarter that led to Auburn’s first touchdown. The Hogs missed a field goal. They had a punt blocked, which immediately led to another Auburn touchdown. Then they allowed a 96-yard kickoff return touchdown in the second half.
Units don’t play much worse than this.
- Auburn (-27) vs. Southern Miss
- Arkansas (+18) at Texas A&M
Texas 31, TCU 16
Two evenly matched teams in a game where turnovers decided everything. The Horned Frogs were -4 in turnover margin, and two of those turnovers late in the third quarter led to Texas touchdowns in a three-minute span that decided the game.
- TCU (-10.5) vs. Iowa State
- Texas (-8.5) at Kansas State
Miami 31, Florida International 17
It was 31-0 Miami with about seven minutes left. Florida International finally scores a touchdown, then pretends it’s the Super Bowl.
The Panthers are blitzing Miami’s third-string quarterback, they’re onside-kicking after scores, they’re taking their timeouts with two minutes left in a three-score game. It was incredible.
And hey, it’s good practice for FIU against a team as great as the Hurricanes, but Mark Richt had to be wondering what was going on. In the end, despite gaining just seven first downs for the game, FIU scored 17 unanswered in the fourth and made the contest seem competitive.
- Miami (-18.5) vs. North Carolina (Thursday)
- FIU (N/A) vs. Arkansas Pine-Bluff
New Mexico State 27, UTEP 20
New Mexico State is probably on your blacklist by now because of it hasn’t covered against anyone, but maybe this week would be different.
The Aggies started a new quarterback, and were facing arguably the worst FBS team in the country. And what I’m telling you is: don’t believe this final score. New Mexico State hasn’t figured a thing out.
The Aggies got a punt-return touchdown and a fumble-return touchdown in the first half, and in a game where each offense was going to have a lot of trouble, that basically made the entire difference. UTEP, a team that shouldn’t outgain anyone, had nine more first downs and 118 more total yards.
UTEP also had an incredible drive where, at the New Mexico State 30, it ran nine plays and ended up gaining four yards and missing a field goal.
That doesn’t really mean much, it just tells you the caliber of the teams we are discussing here.
- UTEP (+10.5) at UTSA
- New Mexico State: Bye
Central Michigan 17, Maine 5
I wanted to end with this game because it just looks awesome. 17-5. And Maine is involved. What a sport.
There is absolutely a case to be made that Maine (which beat Western Kentucky already this season) should have won.
The Black Bears went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line and were stuffed, turning it over on downs. Then they threw a pick that led to a Chippewa touchdown. The Bears got into Central Michigan territory with regularity in the second half, but settled for a field goal, missed another field goal, and then had to go for it on fourth down in no man’s land at about the 35, down by two scores.
Maine ended up with more total yards, more first downs, even turnover margin and ALMOST its second FBS upset of the season.
- Central Michigan (+28.5) at Michigan State
- Maine (N/A) at Yale