College Football Handicapping: Week 8 Misleading Scores

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There might not have been a rush of huge upsets last weekend, but Purdue’s blowout over State shook up the rankings in big way. The wind played a major role in a lot of games last weekend, and under bettors had a good weekend.

BangTheBook always tries to help readers and listeners be well-informed. The weekly misleading scores piece I do here is a good place to go for extra information on teams, and data that helps you dive much deeper than simply knowing the final score. A final score can be very misleading. It’s hard to keep track of all the games, especially if you have a day job and are doing this on the side. I’ll highlight several games and what made the final score misleading. Keep these in mind as you update you handicap the games for the upcoming weekend.

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It was a week full of some very misleading scores!

Middle Tennessee State 21 Charlotte 13 – MTSU won here despite having a putrid offensive showing. The Blue Raiders averaged 2.8 yards per play. They finished with a total of 144 yards. It isn’t like this Charlotte defense is good either. The 49ers had 359 yards and averaged 4.5 yards per play. MTSU’s average field position in this game was their own 42.8 yard line. Charlotte’s average starting field position was their own 23.3 yard line. MTSU had one 15 yard touchdown drive. The Blue Raiders also ran back a fumble for a touchdown. An extremely misleading final score.

LSU 19 Mississippi State 3 – The Tigers won this one comfortably, but it was Nick Fitzgerald’s interceptions that handed them this game. LSU couldn’t get anything going on offense. The Tigers averaged only 3.9 yards per play. The Bulldogs averaged 4.3 yard per play. Fitzgerald threw four picks while only completing eight passes. The fact that LSU scored only 19 points despite forcing four turnovers here tells you the LSU offense was very weak here. LSU did convert 7/18 on third down though, and Mississippi State was only 2/14 on third down.

Utah 41 USC 28 – Utah won by 13, but they should have won by more. The Utes outgained the Trojans 541-205. The Utes averaged 6.7 yards per play. The Trojans averaged 3.8 yards per play. USC stayed in this game thanks to a fumble returned for a touchdown and a blocked punt that set up a nine-yard touchdown drive. Utah also committed seven penalties compared to just two for USC. The Trojans have a lot of injury issues at quarterback. Clay Helton’s reputation as a head coach to fade on the road won’t change any from this contest.

Utah State 24 Wyoming 16 – Utah State had been playing extremely well on a consistent basis, but they were fortunate to get out of Wyoming with a win. The Aggies offense had scored 42 points or more in five straight games, but they couldn’t get any offense going here. Jordan Love had been tremendous in the first half of the season, but he struggled mightily in this one. Utah State managed to get 24 points, but seven came from a kick return touchdown. Another seven came on a whopping three yard touchdown drive after a Wyoming turnover. Wyoming outgained Utah State 334-194. The Aggies averaged only 3.2 yards per play. Wyoming had 10 penalties in this one.

Marshall 31 Florida Atlantic 7 – Marshall rolled to an easy victory, but they were outgained 359-335. Marshall averaged 4.7 yards per play and Florida Atlantic averaged 4.5 yards per play on Saturday. What was the difference? Marshall finished plus five in turnover margin here. The Owls turned the ball over five times. Florida Atlantic averaged only 2.33 points per trip into the red zone. The Owls averaged starting on their own 18.7 yard line. Marshall averaged starting on their own 45.4 yard line.

Stanford 20 Arizona State 13 – The Stanford Cardinal still can’t get their running game going. It’s week nine and Stanford ranks 126th out of 130 teams in the country in yards per carry. Stanford was outgained 437-358 here. Arizona State averaged 6.4 yards per play. The Sun Devils only averaged 2.6 points per trip into the red zone. Stanford averaged 5.0 points per trip into the red zone. Stanford didn’t turn the ball over, while Arizona State had three costly turnovers.

UCF 37 East Carolina 10 – Milton didn’t start for UCF, and East Carolina was the right side all the way in this one. If you had the Pirates plus the points, it was a really bad beat. East Carolina outgained UCF 496-427. The Pirates managed a pathetic 1.67 points per trip into the red zone here. UCF averaged 4.29 points per trip into the red zone. East Carolina turned the ball over five times. UCF didn’t turn the ball over at all.

Southern Miss 27 UTSA 17 – If you just looked at the final score here you would think maybe UTSA is showing some improvement. You would be wrong. Southern Miss outgained UTSA 487 yards to 174 yards. Southern Miss averaged 6.2 yards per play. UTSA averaged only 3.2 yards per play. The Roadrunners are dead last in the nation in average yards per play for the season as a whole. Southern Miss turned the ball over three times here. UTSA didn’t turn the ball over. Even with a +3 turnover margin and being whistled for two penalties, UTSA lost by double digits.

Coastal Carolina 24 UMass 13 – We’ll finish this article off with a very misleading total. Coastal Carolina and UMass combined for 951 yards of total offense, but there were only 37 points scored. Coastal Carolina averaged a whopping 7.1 yards per play. UMass averaged 7.0 yards per play. Both teams turned the ball over twice, and that was part of the problem. Coastal Carolina averaged only 2.67 points per trip into the red zone. UMass averaged only 1.86 points per trip into the red zone. Monitor the status of UMass quarterback Andrew Ford, who is listed questionable for this coming weekend’s game against UConn with a leg injury.

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