1. What stat best correlates with winning? The answer is clearly turnover margin. The top 12 teams in turnover margin hold a combined record of 72-4. Eight of college football’s 11 undefeated teams are among that group, while the two undefeateds executing tight rope walks every week to remain unbeaten, Louisville and Ohio State, rank 38th and 52nd. Of the top 43 teams in turnover margin, only four carry losing records. On the flip side of this statistic, just six of college football’s bottom 40 turnover margins have managed to produce winning records. We’d like to give a special congratulations to Nebraska and Maryland, who are a combined 9-5 despite producing 1.29 more giveaways than takeaways every week.
2. Pac-12 teams need to appeal to the conference schedule maker to get Oregon after Week 8. With the win over Arizona State on Thursday, Oregon improved to 27-0 under four years under Chip Kelly in Week 2 through Week 8.
3. Congratulations to David Cutcliffe and Duke. For the first time since 1994, Duke is going bowling. The Blue Devils didn’t make it easy; after building a 20-6 lead, Duke needed a five-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds to play to hold on for a 33-30 win over North Carolina. There are bigger things ahead for Cutcliffe’s team than simply playing in a bowl game because at 3-1 the Blue Devils are alone in first place of the ACC Atlantic Division. Duke will likely need to upset either Florida State or Clemson, take care of Georgia Tech and then beat Miami in the regular-season finale to appear in the ACC Championship.
4. And then there were two. We try to stay as neutral as possible here at FootballScoop, but one thing we definitely root for every fall is for every team to get at least one win. Eastern Michigan won its first game of the season on Saturday, 48-38 over Army. That leaves only Southern Miss and Massachusetts, in the transition phase from FCS to FBS, without victories this season.
5. What stat best quantifies the amount of offense the Big 12 produced on Saturday? Six of the Big 12’s 10 teams topped 50 points. Four teams topped 450 yards and two gained more than 600 yards. But the best stat is this:
The Big 12 featured more touchdowns (48) than punts (47) on Saturday.
— Anthony Andro (@aandro) October 22, 2012
6. This note, courtesy of ESPN’s Ivan Maisel, is astounding. Division III Mount Union (OH) has tied the NCAA record for consecutive shutouts with their sixth consecutive blanking. Plymouth State (N.H.) set the record in 1982, and Mount Union tied the mark in 2007. With one more shutout, this year’s Mount Union team can tie its 2007 single-season record of seven total shutouts. The Purple Raiders defeated Otterbein (IN) 51-0 on Saturday. With seven points allowed all season, Larry Kehres’ team is within range of breaking Millsaps’ (MS) single-season scoring defense mark with just 31 points allowed in nine games.
In addition to scoring defense, Mount Union also leads Division III in rushing defense (30.7 yards per game, .99 per carry), passing defense (88.1 yards per game, 3.51 per attempt), total defense (118.9 yards per game), pass efficiency defense (one touchdown, 10 interceptions, 60.3 rating), first downs defense (7.71 per game), third down defense (18-for-107) and red zone defense (zero points in four trips). Oh yeah, Mount Union also leads Division III in scoring offense at over 55 points per game.
7. Party like it’s 1999. With a win over Alabama on Saturday, Mississippi State will take the lead in the SEC West standings in November for the first time since 1999. If the Bulldogs find a way to beat the Crimson Tide, Dan Mullen’s team will hope to write a different ending than the 1999 MSU team, which started 5-0 in league play and rose to No. 8 in the polls before dropping two straight games. 1999 also marks the last time Mississippi State finished with a winning record in SEC play.
8. Florida can clinch the SEC East win a win on Saturday. With more than a month still left in the regular season, Florida fans can make plans for Atlanta if Will Muschamp’s team finds a way to beat Georgia for the 12th time in 15 years on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS). The Gators close SEC play at home versus Missouri before hosting Louisiana – Lafayette and Jacksonville State and wrapping up the regular season at Florida State on Nov. 24.
9. Wisconsin needs just a win over Indiana on Nov. 10 to return to the Big Ten title game. After a shaky start that inclduded dismissing its offensive line coach, Bret Bielema’s team has quietly had a very good October. This month the Badgers have beaten Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota by a combined score of 107-41 to run their record to 6-2 and 3-1 in Big Ten play. With Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for the Leaders Division championship, Wisconsin’s only competition for the division crown, Purdue, Illinois and Indiana, are a combined 0-9 in the Big Ten. A win over the Hoosiers on Nov. 10 clinches a second consecutive trip to Indianapolis for Bielema and co. The Badgers face Michigan State on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2) before an off week on Nov. 3.
10. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gene Chizik and his family today. Chizik’s mother, Rita, passed away Monday morning.