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October 28, 2008

Inside the numbers: Making third down look easy

Each week, we'll look at some statistics involving individuals and/or teams that we find intriguing.

1. Big 12 offenses laugh at third-down conversions. Four league teams are in the top seven in third-down conversion percentage; six are in the top 12, eight are in the top 29 and nine are in the top 42. Compare that with the SEC, the only other league that can be mentioned this season when talking about the best overall conference: One league school is in the top 28. The Big 12 teams in the top seven are Texas (58.6) at third, Texas Tech (57.3) at fourth, Texas A&M (51.8) at sixth and Missouri (51.2) tied for seventh. Florida (45.7) is the highest-ranked SEC team at No. 28.

2. SEC defenses laugh at third-down conversions. The league has two of the top three teams nationally in third-down conversion defense; five are in the top 25 and eight are in the top 28. Compare that with the Big 12, the only other league that can be mentioned this season when talking about the best overall conference: Two league schools are in the top 45. Auburn (25.4 percent) is second and Alabama (26.1) is third. The highest-ranked Big 12 team is Oklahoma (sixth at 28.8), and Texas Tech (22nd at 32.4) is the only other Big 12 team in the top 45.

3. Tulsa QB David Johnson is on pace to throw at least 52 TD passes. Johnson has 32 touchdown passes in the Golden Hurricane's eight games. If Tulsa goes to a bowl a given and Johnson stays on the same pace, he would throw 52 TD passes, But if Tulsa plays in the Conference USA title game, it would play 14 games. And if Johnson remains on his pace, he would throw 56 TD passes. Former Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan threw for 58 touchdowns in 2006, breaking the NCAA season-record of 54 by David Klingler of Houston in 1990.

4. Washington and Washington State have a combined 11 sacks. One reason these teams are a combined 1-14 is because both play awful defense Washington State is allowing 459.8 yards per game, which is 111th nationally. Washington is giving up 479.6, which is 117th. Neither can rush the passer, with Washington State 118th in the nation with six sacks and Washington last in the nation with five. As a point of comparison, two players TCU DE Jerry Hughes (12) and Penn State DE Aaron Maybin (11) have as many sacks as the teams combined.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be heard on Rivals Radio every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. ET and can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

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