The math doesn't add up in Austin. If you were to summarize a coach's job at the college football level into terms as simplistic as possible, it's this: to acquire the best players you can, then make them play a little bit better than their talent dictates -- to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
That isn't happening in Austin. The whole is consistently less than the sum of its parts at Texas. Friday's 23-20 loss to Iowa State -- in Game 48 of the Tom Herman era -- Texas managed to turn this...
-- 448 yards of offense on 6.89 a play
-- A lead for 58 and a half minutes
-- Possession of the ball inside enemy territory eight times in 10 possessions
-- Two punts
-- The ball and a lead three times in the game's final 18 minutes
... into two touchdowns, 20 points and a loss.
Leading 20-13 with 2:37 left in the third quarter, Texas took over at midfield and went four-and-out, opting for a fake punt pass on 4th-and-8 that came up three yards short. After Iowa State turned its own short field into three points, Texas drove to the Iowa State 13 with 8:02 left. Facing a 4th-and-2, after Sam Ehlinger had already been stuffed the down before, Texas called Ehlinger's number again rather than kick a field goal. He was short.
Texas then forced a punt with 4:09 left, taking over at its own 24 and nursing a 4-point lead, with a third chance to put the game on ice. They went three-and-out. The game was fait accompli at that point -- Iowa State scored in five plays, and Texas missed a 57-yard field goal to tie a game it led for all but 90 seconds.
That's how you turn 35 points' worth of offense in 20, how you turn the best roster in the Big 12 into a 9-7 record.
That's UT's Big 12 record over the past two seasons -- 9-7. It will likely grow to 11-7 after games with Kansas State and Kansas but here's how Herman has fared against the Big 12's coaching elite: 0-2 vs. Lincoln Riley, 0-2 vs. Gary Patterson, 0-2 vs. Matt Campbell. (He did beat Mike Gundy twice, by six and in overtime.)
Ever the optimist, Herman extolled the possibility of finishing with a .700 winning percentage for the second time in three seasons -- as if recruits sign with Texas with the dream of winning seven out of 10 times, as if UT hangs ".700 Winning Percentage" signage inside the Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletic Center. All while Iowa State celebrated clinching a Big 12 Championship berth inside UT's visitor's locker room.
The "whole vs. sum of parts" equation doesn't get any simpler than that. And it that doesn't, this does:
In Herman's case, it's the $15 million question.
This isn't all about Texas. Iowa State will play in the Big 12 Championship for the first time in 19 tries, with the goal of snapping the longest title drought (108 years) in the entire Power 5. Their seven conference wins are a school record, and their concurrent victories over Oklahoma and Texas are a first.
Matt Campbell was near tears in his postgame interview with ABC, and the feeling is clearly mutual.
"Our backs were against the wall the whole game, and quite honestly that's how we've lived in this program for the past five years," Campbell said after the game.
"It's five-star culture versus five-star players," Cyclones running back Breece Hall said.
Notre Dame is really, really good. You knew North Carolina would hit Notre Dame with everything it had on Friday afternoon, and the Heels did, for a time. The Heels' first two drives:
-- 14 plays, 125 yards, two touchdowns
Their final nine drives:
-- 43 plays, 173 yards, seven punts, one turnover on downs, one field goal
Clark Lea pitched a near perfect game in the second half, as UNC punted on every possession but one, and the one was a four-and-out with the Irish lead at 31-17 and under a minute to play. North Carolina's longest second-half drive in terms of plays lasted seven snaps; its longest drive in terms of distance traveled all of 22 yards. UNC's offense ran 25 plays after halftime, 14 gained one yard or fewer.
"To our staff like coming out against the triple option. It was fast. We needed to acclimate a little bit. And once we did, we really liked our game plan, we thought that we had some things that they hadn't seen before, we're able to take away some of their glance reads off of the RPO," Brian Kelly said afterward. "And and we were able to do it with moving our safeties around. So I thought, I thought the plan was outstanding. And the players executed it."
Kelly's turnaround after the 4-8 bellyflop of 2016 continues to be an under-appreciated story in college football. The Irish are 32-3 since 2018 and owners of the nation's longest winning streak at 15. Wins over Syracuse and Wake Forest (combined record: 5-11) would put them in the Playoff for the second time in three seasons.
Oh, and they've never lost a conference game in 133 years of football.
All hail Jaret Patterson. No hyperbole needed here, Buffalo running back Jarret Patterson had the best game an FBS running back has ever had -- 36 carries for 409 yards and eight touchdowns. He tied the FBS record for single-game rushing touchdowns (and set the record for most TDs against an FBS opponent) while 19 yards shy of tying Samaje Perine's single-game record of 427 yards. He had nine runs of 10-plus yards; 35 of his 36 carries gained yardage; his eight touchdown carries alone totaled 202 yards.
And it could have been so much more from a historic perspective.
With 4:57 remaining, Patterson stood at 385 yards and eight scores, putting him 42 yards behind Perine. Buffalo happened to take possession of the ball at Kent State's 43 -- meaning an all-Patterson drive that ended in the end zone would put him at 428 yards and nine scores, thereby breaking both Perine's record of 427 yards and Howard Griffith's record of eight touchdowns.
Patterson got the ball on Buffalo's first four plays, charging for two, nine, nine and four yards. And then Bulls head coach Lance Leipold took him out. Backup Kevin Marks, Jr., rushed for the drive's final 19 yards and a touchdown to seal Buffalo's 70-41 win.
Some quick #Nuggets:
-- On a day when Patterson tied the FBS single-game touchdown record, Buffalo backup running back Marks tied his career high with two touchdowns.
-- Patterson's 511 yards through three games were enough for him to lead the country in rushing yards per game before kickoff. After averaging 170.3 through three games, he now averages 230 through four.
-- Buffalo's 10 rushing touchdowns are more than five teams amassed all of last season, and nearly equal the 11 the Bulls posted in their first three games of this season.
-- Buffalo ran for more yards in one game than Washington State (478) and Wake Forest (479) did in 12 back in 2014.
-- Kent State entered Saturday allowing 177.7 rushing yards per game, 77th in the country. They now allow 262 yards per game, which ranks 124th out of 127 teams based on last week's numbers.
The Super 16. Here's this week's NFF-FWAA Super 16 poll.
- Notre Dame
- Ohio State
- Texas A&M
- Coastal Carolina
- Iowa State
Seen and Heard
The first play by a woman in a Power 5 game belongs to Vanderbilt's Sarah Fuller.
An emotional moment before Texas State's game on Saturday.
The Egg Bowl remains unmatched and unchallenged for its level of pettiness.
"It's football, right? It's football. Are they OK with how I dressed today? Should I be changing my pants, different shirt? What are we talking about?"
-- Kirk Ferentz on Nebraska accusing Iowa of illegal clapping.
"I think I did yell at the TV a couple times today."
-- Nick Saban on watching Alabama's 42-13 Iron Bowl win over Auburn.
“I want to tell all the girls out there that you can do anything you set your mind to."
-- Sarah Fuller on becoming the first woman to play in a Power 5 game.
Odds and Ends
a. Coastal Carolina officially clinched the first Sun Belt East championship with a 49-14 win over Texas State. CJ Marable rolled for 157 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries.
b. Memphis-Navy was 7-7 at the 3:52 mark of the first quarter and ended 10-7. Riley Patterson ended a streak of 15 straight scoreless drives to provide the winning points for Memphis. Navy is 3-5 this season and all eight games have been their own level of strange, it seems.
c. Louisiana-Lafayette has already wrapped up the Sun Belt West, so on Saturday Billy Napier's team dropped 70 on rival ULM. The Cajuns have taken three straight in the series, and Saturday's 70-20 margin is the largest by either side in the 55-game history of the rivalry.
d. Good for Johnathan Smith and Oregon State in rallying from a 31-19 deficit to defeat Oregon, 41-38. It's the Beavers first Civil War victory since 2016 and, considering Oregon went 4-8 that season, this is Oregon State's most satisfying Civil War victory since 2007.
e. A season that began with Pac-12 title aspirations has turned into a nightmare for Cal. The Bears are 0-3 and lost possession of the Stanford Axe for the 10th time in 11 seasons.
f. Horrible if it happens to you, hilarious for the rest of us.
Oklahoma State won the game, 50-44.
g. The pokes were without their top two running backs on Saturday, so third-stringer Dezmon Jackson went for 235 and three scores on 36 carries.
h. It's a new rivalry, and one Georgia State now has the edge in. Georgia State scored 17 unanswered in the fourth quarter to: a) win the game, 30-24 b) take the lead in the series, 4-3 and c) win the right to call itself the GSU for the next 364 days.
i. What do we reckon is going on here?
j. Florida had a sequence that showed the importance of playing complimentary, team football on Saturday. Trailing 10-7 late in the first half, Jacob Finn blasted a perfect coffin corner punt, skipping the ball out of bounds at the 1. Then, with Kentucky facing a 3rd-and-1 at the 10 and Florida down to its final timeout, linebacker Ventrell Miller shot a gap to meet Kentucky's Asim Rose in the gap, which prevented Kentucky from gaining a first down that would have effectively sent the game to halftime. Kadarius Toney then took the ensuing punt back 50 yards for a touchdown and Florida never looked back in a 34-10 win.
k. Jeff Traylor's first season at UTSA has been one of the best in school history. The Roadrunners are 7-4, 5-2 in Conference USA and 4-0 against the state of Texas after a 49-17 win over North Texas.
l. Horrifying if it happens to you, hilarious for the rest of us, Part II.
m. You can tell Iowa-Nebraska is turning into a real rivalry because Iowa has won six straight but it's Nebraska fans will tell you Iowa doesn't belong on the field with them.
n. On the same day Coastal Carolina earned its ninth victory of the season, Penn State earned its first. The 1-5 Nittany Lions dropped Michigan to 2-4 with a 27-17 win at the Big House.
o. Northwestern as a College Football Playoff spoiler lasted all of one week. The Wildcats fell behind Michigan State 17-0, clawed their way into a 20-17 lead, then went three-and-out, interception, three-and-out as Michigan State scored the game's final 12 points. Pat Fitzgerald's team can still reach the Big Ten Championship with wins over Minnesota and Illinois (and the Minnesota game may not happen) but the Playoff dream is dead.
p. A year after surrendering 50 points and 553 yards to LSU, Texas A&M limited the same Tigers squad to 267 yards in a 20-7 win. Those are the same Tigers, right?
r. That A&M-LSU game saw three quarterbacks complete 34 of 81 passes for 4.14 an attempt. Yuck.
s. It hasn't been a good debut season for Dave Aranda at Baylor, but it was a good night. The Bears faced deficits of 17-6 and 31-22 but beat Kansas State 32-31 on a field goal at the buzzer, lifting Baylor to 2-5 on the season.
t. UCLA is 2-2 in Pac-12 play for the first time since 2017 with a 27-10 win over Arizona. It's the Wildcats' 10th straight loss. Only Kansas has a longer active losing streak among the Power 5.
u. How about Jimmy Lake and Karl Dorrell? Two new Pac-12 staffs moved to 3-0 by winning games that didn't exist this time a week ago.
Colorado didn't allow a defensive touchdown in beating San Diego State 20-10, while Washington rallied from 21-0 down to beat Utah 24-21, completing the Huskies' biggest comeback since 1988.
While seemingly every other team in FBS is playing this season in a series of stops and starts, Texas State completed a ballet through the minefield and came out as clean as they went in. The Bobcats started on time (Sept. 5), played 12 games as scheduled, and finished on time, closing with the aforementioned loss to Coastal Carolina, with nary a single postponement or cancelation in between.
Decades from now, the 2020 season will be an aberration and an oddity in whatever the 2070 version of a media guide happens to be -- "Only six games with a month off in the middle of the season?" -- for everyone but Texas State. As far as the record books are concerned, 2020 was just another season.