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FSU likes Swamp; Tide’s Derrick Henry carries load

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Rivalry Week provided some close games, but also a number of lopsided scores. Florida State’s 27-2 victory over Florida was much more competitive than the final score would indicate. Here are a few of the numbers that stand out after Saturday’s games.

220 – Rushing yards by No. 14 North Carolina’s Elijah Hood in the Tar Heels’ 45-34 win over North Carolina State on Saturday. Hood also scored two touchdowns as North Carolina jumped on the Wolfpack, 35-7 by the end of the first quarter and cruised to victory.

214 – Rushing yards No. 8 Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott put up against arch-rival Michigan on Saturday. He was a major factor in the Buckeyes’ 42-13 rout of the No. 10 Wolverines in Michigan’s “Big House.” Ohio State rushed for 369 yards against Michigan’s formerly top-10 rushing defense.

103 – Points allowed by No. 11 Oklahoma State in their final two home games. The Cowboys, 10-0 two weeks ago, controlled their own destiny for a Big 12 Championship with games against Baylor and Oklahoma in T. Boone Pickens Stadium. Banged-up Baylor knocked off OSU, 45-35 and Oklahoma pounded the Cowboys 58-23 on Saturday to win the conference title.

46 – Carries by Alabama’s Derrick Henry, the leading contender for the Heisman Trophy, in the Crimson Tide’s 29-13 victory over Auburn in the annual Iron Bowl, played this year at Auburn, Ala. The 46 carries are an Alabama record. Henry turned those carries into 271 rushing yards and a touchdown. Florida gets a chance to slow him down this Saturday in the SEC Championship Game.

9 – Rushing yards by the Connecticut Huskies in their 27-3 loss to No. 25 Temple. The Huskies gained those yards on 26 carries, an average of 0.3 yards per carry. With the Temple victory, the Owls, not South Florida, will represent the American Athletic Conference’s East Division in the league’s inaugural championship game. A Temple loss would have sent USF to the title game.

7 – Consecutive games No. 1 Clemson QB Deshaun Watson and has passed and rushed for a touchdown in the same game. Watson ran for three scores in the Tigers’ 37-32 win over South Carolina on Saturday. He found Deon Cain for a 55-yard score in the first quarter.

3 – Consecutive wins by No. 13 Florida State at No. 12 Florida following Saturday’s 27-2 romp in the Swamp. Since Tim Tebow’s swan song in 2009, FSU has taken the last three in Gainesville by a combined score of 85-16. Florida State had never won three straight at Florida before Saturday. The Gators still leads the series, 34-24 with two ties.

3 – Turnovers returned for touchdowns by Washington in their 45-10 blitz of rival Washington. Chico McClatcher and Azeem Victor returned interceptions for scores and Darren Gardenhire picked up a fumble and scored for the Huskies. Washington won the Apple Cup from the No. 20 Cougars for the 6th time in 7 years.

2 – Teams finishing the regular season unbeaten. Clemson heads to the ACC Championship Game vs. North Carolina on Saturday at 12-0. Iowa faces Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game with an identical record. Clemson enters Saturday’s game on a 15-game winning streak dating back to last season.

1 – Number of bowl appearances by Indiana in the last 22 years. That number will double after the Hoosiers’ 54-36 victory at arch-rival Purdue on Saturday. QB Nate Sudfeld became the school’s all-time passing leader with 350 yards and four touchdowns against the Boilermakers.

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

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