Misleading College Football Scores, Week 8: Yes, Ohio State’s Defense Was That Bad
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: D.J. Knox
- College football final scores are not always what they seem, and box scores can paint a much clearer picture of what happened.
- Ken Barkley dives into Week 8 stat sheets to let you know who looked better or worse than the final score indicates.
Patrick Mahomes continues to light up the NFL, and I have to imagine he played games with a misleading final score or two in his time at Texas Tech.
Something along the lines of “The Red Raiders won this game despite allowing 700 total yards and 51 first downs, because Mahomes was 61 of 88 for 610 yards and six touchdowns. This defense isn’t something you can rely on going forward.”
Fortunately for Mahomes, he is now surrounded by NFL-level talent everywhere, and although his defense is once again a little suspect, the Chiefs have some room to improve heading toward January and the playoffs.
As for the college game, there was plenty to dissect from Week 8. Here are some score lines that stood out, and why the game itself may have painted a slightly different picture:
Stanford 20, Arizona State 13 (Thursday)
It’s really easy to look at this scoreline and think “well, come on, was David Shaw really going to lose three games in a row? Stanford’s back on track!” Not exactly.
Even though Stanford won the game, plenty of problems persisted for the Cardinal. They were +3 in turnover differential and they struggled to put the game away. They were outgained in total yards and still have an incredibly difficult time running the ball (3.0 yards per carry, and Bryce Love had 11 carries for 21 yards).
Arizona State’s defense was 88th in S&P+ entering the game, so this was really not a positive takeaway. Stanford also struggled in the red zone again, settling for two field goals in the first half on promising drives.
None of this means Stanford can’t still have a meaningful, productive season (maybe nine wins?) but the schedule is rough, and there are many problems to solve.
Purdue 49, Ohio State 20
I am not saying Ohio State should have won this game the way it played out. The Buckeyes pretty decidedly shouldn’t have. I am just saying that as poorly as the defense played, their offense couldn’t have racked up more yards, and should have scored more points.
Ohio State actually outgained Purdue in this game, and the fourth quarter was pretty even in yards despite being completely out of control scoring-wise.
Ohio State’s biggest problem was drive-finishing. We knew the defense isn’t any good … we saw Oregon State running all over it in Week 1. TCU arguably could have won because it was moving the ball so well. The lack of defensive prowess was not some revelation.
In this game, Ohio State’s offense, though, settled for field goals, missed field goals, turned it over at the 1-yard line on fourth-and-goal … anything and everything you can do to prevent putting points on the board.
What can we take forward here? Ohio State’s offense is still incredibly prolific, and Purdue’s defense (84th in S&P+ entering Saturday) is still not a thing. Or it’s a mediocre thing. Whatever. You know what I mean.
LSU 19, Mississippi State 3
How many times is LSU going to appear on here, you might be thinking, before I just acknowledge the Tigers are awesome? Look, I get it. They’re very talented, and they’ve beaten an incredibly good group of teams (and lost at Florida). But sometimes these final scores just seem to materialize out of thin air despite how the team is playing.
This was a field-position game. Two excellent defenses. Only Mississippi State didn’t get the memo, and wrecked its ability to put LSU in bad spots. There was one touchdown scored in this game. One. And it was scored after Nick Fitzgerald threw a pick on the opening drive. LSU got the ball at the 3-yard line, and still took three plays to score. 7-0. Only touchdown of the game.
For the remainder of this slugfest, Mississippi State’s defense held up its end of the bargain. The Bulldogs actually outgained LSU and ran the ball MUCH better, too. But with Mississippi State’s offense having four turnovers (the Bulldogs were -3 in turnover differential in the game) and the defense being put in bad spots over and over again, the field goals added up. And here we are.
LSU once again won a game where its offense did next to nothing, but the defense got the job done. Is the four turnovers the Tigers being opportunistic? Or are we seeing a team just get every bounce it needs in a season? Or does it matter? I’m not sure anymore.
UCF 37, East Carolina 10
If you bet on UCF every week, you lead a really charmed life, my friend. They are 5-2 against the spread against the closing Pinnacle number, and a couple of the margins have been … thin.
The idea that they could surprisingly not start quarterback McKenzie Milton for “overall health reasons” and cover 21.5 with the backup is incredible. And look at how the Knights did it.
Darriel Mack Jr. (Milton’s backup) was 12 for 20 for 69 yards. East Carolina outgained the Knights by about 70 and had more first downs. Time of possession was basically equal. But East Carolina was -5 (!) in turnover differential, and that’s what decided this.
And for that reason, East Carolina bettors need to retire for overall health reasons. Just don’t do this anymore, man. It’s not worth it.
Iowa 23, Maryland 0
Could have been much worse, but it’s not like the Hawkeyes play with pace, so 23-0 was as bad as it could get. Maryland had 115 yards of offense (it got outgained significantly, of course), and lost time of possession by 20 minutes!
Iowa didn’t have a single penalty in the game! Not one! Exclamation points! This entire game was Iowa methodically moving the ball, and Maryland letting Iowa methodically move the ball. This could also be future Big Ten West champ Iowa, by the way.
That whole division is close to being upside down.
Middle Tennessee 21, Charlotte 13
A truly incredible 60 minutes. Charlotte won first downs 19-9. Charlotte won total yards 359-144(!). Charlotte won in rushing yards 150-33. Middle Tennessee averaged one yard per carry. One. Turnover differential was even. So naturally, Charlotte lost the game.
I almost spit out my coffee Saturday night reviewing this. Thankfully, I didn’t, because I was on no sleep and needed to stay up to sweat all my Lakers-Rockets props.
Middle Tennessee’s three touchdowns occurred off of a Charlotte missed field goal, a Charlotte interception in its own end and a Charlotte turnover that was returned the other way.
Charlotte gifted the other team 21 points and spent the whole game trying to futilely get them back. It’s tragic, really. On drives where Charlotte wasn’t gifting points, Middle Tennessee had EIGHT three-and-outs. EIGHT! And won! What an odd game.