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College football provides real life lessons in addition to statistics

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Saturday gave college football fans some close games to enjoy. While two unranked teams posted upsets, with Florida State serving as the victim in one of them, others came down to the wire. Alabama’s escape at home and Pitt’s last second win at Syracuse are examples.

Here are a few of the key takeaway numbers from week 8 in college football, including a lesson in real life.

447 – Passing yards by Memphis QB Paxton Lynch in the Tigers’ 66-42 win over Tulsa. Lynch, who has entered the conversation for the Heisman Trophy, also tossed 4 touchdown passes and rushed for another.

300 – All-purpose yards gained by No. 10 Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey in the Cardinal’s 31-14 romp over Washington on Saturday night. McCaffrey rushed for 109 yards, caught 5 passes for 112 yards and added 79 receiving yards. His 259 all-purpose yards per game average leads the nation, 40 yards more than second place Tyler Ervin of San Jose State.

127 – Statistical national ranking for the University of Central Florida’s offense among the Division 1-FBS college programs. The ranking is the lowest in the nation. No. 21 Houston sent the Knights to their eighth straight defeat on Saturday with a 59-10 rout.

72 – Georgia Tech’s national ranking in the category of scoring defense going into their game with No. 9 Florida State. Despite their place in the bottom half of Division 1-FBS teams, the Yellow Jackets held the Seminoles to one offensive touchdown (following an interception return) in their 22-16 upset of FSU. The Ramblin’ Wreck moved up to 59th after the game.

34 – Second half turnaround for No. 19 Toledo against Massachusetts. The Rockets trailed the Minutemen 28-10 at the half, but outscored UMass 41-7 in the second half for a 51-35 victory. Toledo is now 7-0 for the year.

6 – First downs recorded by the Miami Hurricanes in their 58-0 home loss to the No. 6 Clemson Tigers, who earned 33 first downs. The loss was the most lopsided in Hurricane history and most likely seals the fate of Head Coach Al Golden.

5 – Number of losses by 5 points or less suffered by Nebraska, including Saturday’s 30-28 setback at home against Northwestern. The once-proud Cornhuskers are now 3-5 overall and 1-3 in the Big 10. One of those losses was a 3-point overtime loss to Miami.

4 – Conference games in which the Missouri Tigers, 1-4 in the SEC and a participant in the last two SEC Championship games, has failed to score a touchdown, including the last 3. They fell to Vanderbilt, 10-3 on Saturday. Missouri is ranked No. 126 out of 127 Division 1-FBS NCAA teams in total offense. Only Central Florida is ranked lower.  

3 – Interceptions by Southern California’s Cameron Smith in a 42-24 upset win of No. 3 Utah. The second of Smith’s interceptions went for a 54-yard touchdown, propelling USC to the upset. Interim coach Clay Helton, who took over for the fired Steve Sarkisian, earned his first win after a narrow loss last week at Notre Dame.

2 – Number of 4-overtime games on Saturday. No. 23 Duke outlasted ACC foe Virginia Tech 45-43 in Blacksburg, Va. when QB Thomas Sirk ran for the winning 2-point conversion. In Fayetteville, Ark., the Arkansas Razorbacks survived the Auburn Tigers, 54-46. After Arkansas scored on the first play of overtime number 4 and earned the 2-point conversion, the Tigers were unable to respond.

In the end, numbers and games mean very little when looking at what happened in Stillwater, Oklahoma during Homecoming activities for Oklahoma State. The Aggies defeated Kansas 58-10, but thoughts continue to be on those who lost their lives and the others critically injured.

The memory of this horror will linger far beyond any football game.

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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