26 PFF stats to know for the third week of college bowl games

Ready for the third week of college bowl games? Bryson Vesnaver highlights the stats you need to know for every game.

| 3 months ago
(Joshua Gateley/Getty Images)

(Joshua Gateley/Getty Images)

26 PFF stats to know for the third week of college bowl games


We’re into the third week of bowl games, which sees some pretty good matchups between high-level teams. We’re digging through the PFF database to bring 26 pieces of unique PFF data that you need to know for upcoming matchups.

Liberty Bowl

Georgia Bulldogs vs. TCU Horned Frogs

1. Georgia DT Trenton Thompson has a run stop percentage of 12.1%, fifth-highest in the nation at his position

Despite only playing about 56 percent of Georgia’s defensive snaps, Thompson has made a big impact in the run game. He has 24 solo run stops, which is more than double anyone else on Georgia’s defensive line has. His run defense grade of 86.3 is a top-25 grade among interior defenders.

2. TCU G Patrick Morris has a pass-block efficiency of 99.0, the ninth-best mark among guards in the country.

Morris has allowed zero sacks, zero hits and just six hurries from his guard position. He anchors a strong pass-blocking interior line for TCU, as the three starters have allowed just two sacks between the three of them. G Matt Pryor has a pass-block efficiency of 97.8 and C Austin Schlottmann has one of 98.0.

Sun Bowl

Stanford Cardinal vs. North Carolina Tar Heels

3. Stanford DT Solomon Thomas has 32 solo run stops, the fifth-most among defensive tackles in the nation.

Thomas is one of the best run-stuffing defensive tackles in college football this season. His run-stop percentage of 11.7 percent ranks seventh in the country, and his run defense grade of 91.1 ranks first among all interior defenders. He makes more disruptive plays than arguably any interior defender. He’s no slouch rushing the passer either, his 8.7 pass-rushing productivity score ranking 21st at his position

4. North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky has an adjusted completion percentage of 68.6% when under pressure, second-highest in the country.

Trubisky is one of the better quarterbacks in the country when under pressure. He averages 6.6 yards per attempt and generally does a good job of getting the ball into the hands of his receivers. He only takes a sack on 15.2 percent of the plays where he’s under pressure, which is a very good mark. He’s also good when he extends the play, as his 110.4 QB rating on throws that take longer than 2.6 seconds ranks 10th in the country.

Music City Bowl

Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Tennessee Volunteers

5. Nebraska LB Josh Banderas has the fourth-highest run-stop percentage among inside linebackers in the country at 15.0%.

Banderas is the best run defender on a strong run-defending Nebraska defense. He has 38 solo run stops, the most on the team. His run defense grade of 88.2 ranks fifth in the country at his position. Tennessee loves to run the ball, so Banderas will be a key factor in whether Nebraska can come away victorious.

6. Tennessee’s Derek Barnett ranks third among 4-3 defensive ends with a 14.8 pass-rushing productivity score.

It’s no secret that Barnett is one of the best edge defenders in all of college football. He has 12 sacks and 64 total pressures for the Volunteers defense. He also has 13 pass rushes where he’s beaten his man but no pressure could be recorded (due to a quick pass or scramble). Barnett has also missed just four tackles all season, one of the lowest among interior defenders.

Arizona Bowl

South Alabama Jaguars vs. Air Force Falcons

7. South Alabama OLB Randy Allen’s 65 total pressures are the most among all outside linebackers in college football.

Allen is a pass-rushing machine for the Jaguars, with 11 of those 65 pressures resulting in sacks. He didn’t get that many pressures just based on volume either. His pass-rushing productivity of 15.9 ranked sixth at his position. He’s a difference-maker for the Jaguars defense, and can take over a game all by himself with his pass rushing.

8. The Air Force run game averages 3.3 yards before contact per rush.

Air Force is, as always, one of the best rushing attacks in college football thanks to their unique offense. They are bolstered by a strong offensive line, all of whom grade well-above-average in their run blocking. They are led by C Dylan Vail, who grades out as the fifth-best run-blocking center in the country at 81.4.

Orange Bowl

Michigan Wolverines vs. Florida State Seminoles

9. Michigan CB Jourdan Lewis averages 25.3 coverage snaps per reception allowed, the ninth-best mark among all college corners.

That mark by Lewis is even more impressive when you consider that he’s targeted every 7.7 coverage snaps. He’s been targeted 33 times this season and has allowed just 10 catches for 107 yards and two interceptions to go along with eight pass breakups. Lewis’ QB rating allowed of 15.6 is the second-lowest among all corners in the country.

10. Florida State’s Dalvin Cook has an elusive rating of 118.9, the highest among all running backs with at least 150 carries.

Cook has been one of the best running backs in the entire country this year. His 80 missed tackles forced on rushes ranks first in the country. He averages more than 4.05 yards after contact per attempt, fifth-highest among RBs with 150 or more carries. What’s most impressive is that he’s done it with very little offensive-line help. Over 67 percent of his total yards gained have come after first contact.

Citrus Bowl

LSU Tigers vs. Louisville Cardinals

11. LSU edge rusher Arden Key has a pass-rushing productivity of 16.4, the fifth-highest among 3-4 outside linebackers.

Key is a beast of a pass rusher for LSU, as evidenced by his 10 sacks and 52 total pressures this season. He has the 13th-highest pass-rushing grade among all edge defenders at 88.1. LSU has a handful of decent pass-rushers, but none come close to Key. He’s going to need to be a difference maker against a poor Louisville offensive line.

12. Heisman winner Lamar Jackson has forced 48 missed tackles rushing the football, more than all but 16 running backs.

Jackson has been arguably the most exciting football player in the country this year, and has carried a Louisville team that does not have much outside of him. If we calculated elusive rating for quarterbacks, Jackson’s would be 100.1, which would rank 28th among running backs in college football. He’s not a great passer, but he’s good enough to get the job done on top of his incredible running ability.

TaxSlayer Bowl

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Kentucky Wildcats

13. Yellow Jackets’ QB Justin Thomas has ad adjusted completion percentage of 54.2% on deep throws (20-plus yards downfield), ninth among all QBs.

While the Jackets don’t throw that often, when they do they often take shots downfield. Of all of Thomas’ attempts, 35.8 percent of them are deep throws, the third-highest percentage in the nation. He’s completed 21 of 48 attempts (five were dropped) for 823 yards and six touchdowns. Georgia Tech’s offense is based around a heavy run game that sets up the deep ball, so having a QB like Thomas who can be accurate so often on those throws is a big key.

14. Kentucky RB Benjamin Snell Jr. has an elusive rating of 95.7, the 10th-highest among RBs with at least 150 carries.

Snell Jr. has had a phenomenal season for Kentucky, rushing for over 1,000 yards despite getting an average of just 1.85 yards before contact per attempt. Almost 69 percent of his total yards have come after contact. He’s forced 42 missed tackles on the season. He’s also only fumbled the football twice, a very important part of being a running back.

Peach Bowl

Washington Huskies vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

15. Huskies’ QB Jake Browning has a QB rating of 133.5 when kept clean in the pocket, fourth-best among college QBs.

Being kept clean in the pocket is important for any quarterback to succeed, but it’s especially important for Browning. When he’s got a clean pocket to throw from he has an adjusted completion percentage of 75.0 percent, averages 9.8 yards per attempt and has thrown 32 touchdowns to just five picks. When under pressure that drops to a 56.4 percent adjusted completion percentage, 6.9 yards per attempt, 10 touchdown to two interceptions, and a 95.4 rating. That’s not terrible by any means, but he’s clearly better when kept clean. Against a defense as good as Alabama’s, he won’t have any room for mistakes and so his offensive line will need to do a phenomenal job against the Crimson Tide pass rush.

16. Alabama’s defense got pressure on 47.0% of it’s opposing teams’ dropbacks.

Take a look at that number to just think about how truly insane that is. Alabama’s defense saw 504 passing plays this season, and they were able to get pressure on 237 of them. Almost 10 percent of opposition passing plays ended in sacks. They were led by star defensive end Johnathan Allen, whose 10 sacks and 60 total pressures translated to a pass-rushing productivity score of 12.9, second in the country among 3-4 defensive ends. But you also can’t forget outside linebacker Tim Williams, who rushed the passer just 216 times and managed to collect eight sacks and 52 total pressures, good for second in the country with a 19.0 pass rushing productivity. Nobody can get after the quarterback like Alabama’s defense can, and that bodes well for them against Washington’s Jake Browning. As stated above, he is far worse when under pressure.

Fiesta Bowl

Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Clemson Tigers

17. Ohio State corner Gareon Conley averages 27.8 coverage snaps per reception allowed, which ranks seventh among corners in the NCAA.

Ohio State has a great secondary, and it’s led by Conley. On the year he’s seen 34 targets and allowed just 10 catches for 114 yards. He’s broken up six passes, and intercepted three more while allowing just one touchdown. That works out to a QB rating of 14.5, lowest among all corners. Overall QBs have a passer rating of just 54.0 against Ohio State. They allow just 49.7 percent of “aimed” passes (non-throwaways, spikes, batted passes, etc.) to be completed and have 19 interceptions to just 10 touchdowns allowed. They are especially good against the deep throw, as they’ve allowed just 12 completions on 59 deep passes for 378 yards and two touchdowns to eight interceptions. Against a QB as good as Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Ohio State’s secondary will be put to the test and could decide the outcome of this game.

18  Since Week 10, Deshaun Watson’s 82.1% adjusted completion percentage ranks fifth in the country.

It’s hard to argue that there was a hotter QB in college football to end the season than Watson. Over his final five games, he was accurate on over 80 percent of his passes. He had a deep ball adjusted completion percentage of 54.5 percent. He had a 116.7 QB rating on throws that lasted longer than 2.6 seconds. He was the highest-graded QB over that span and it wasn’t particularly close. He made tons of big-time throws and had very, very few poor decisions or bad throws. On the year he finished as our third-highest-graded quarterback at 90.9 overall. If he can continue to play as well as he has been before the break, Watson can test the Ohio State secondary like no other QB can.

Outback Bowl

Florida Gators vs. Iowa Hawkeyes

19. Gators’ slot CB Duke Dawson surrendered an opposing QB rating of 64.6, the eighth-lowest among all slot corners.

Dawson is a name that many people may not be familiar with, but he was fantastic for Florida this season. He allowed just 18 catches on 36 targets for 200 yards and just one touchdown to one interception, while breaking up seven passes in the slot. He finished the year with our ninth-highest coverage grade of 86.8 among corners.

20. Iowa’s CB Desmond King averaged 20.5 coverage snaps per reception allowed, the 14th-most in the whole country among CBs.

King has been a phenomenal player for Iowa’s defense all year. He allowed 19 catches for 233 yards on 46 targets, with only 77 of those yards coming after the catch. He allowed one touchdown and picked off two passes while breaking up eight others. He was also one of the best run-defending corners in college football, finishing with an 82.4 run-defense grade.

Cotton Bowl

Western Michigan Broncos vs. Wisconsin Badgers

21. Western Michigan’s QB Zach Terrell was the most accurate quarterback in college football with an 80.9% adjusted completion percentage.

Terrell is often overlooked when compared to his star receiver Corey Davis, but this was a phenomenal year for the quarterback. He was the most accurate QB and did so while still pushing the ball downfield, his 9.66 yards per attempt being the fourth-highest in the country. He finished the year with 3,392 yards and 32 touchdowns to just three interceptions. Though we still can’t ignore the help he got from Davis, who averaged 3.64 yards per route run and caught 92 of Terrell’s passes and 18 of his touchdown throws.

22. Wisconsin edge rush duo of T.J. Watt and Vince Biegel combined for 13 sacks, 17 hits and 63 hurries this season.

Other than those two, Wisconsin really didn’t get much of a pass rush. But what a difference those two made. Among 3-4 outside linebackers, Watt ranked fourth in the country with a 16.6 pass-rushing productivity. But Biegel was not far behind, his 15.3 PRP ranking ninth in the country. The two players had success every game they played, and they’ll be key in throwing off the timing of Western Michigan’s strong passing attack.

Rose Bowl

USC Trojans vs. Penn State Nittany Lions

23. Trojans’ NT Stevie Tu’ikolovatu ranks seventh in the country among defensive tackles with an 11.7% run-stop percentage.

Tu’ikolovatu has had a great year, especially when it comes to run defense. He’s made 30 solo run stops, which is the eighth-most among defensive tackles. He also hasn’t missed a single tackle this year in 41 tackle attempts. His run-defense grade of 88.6 ranks seventh among all interior defenders. He’ll be a big factor in stopping Penn State’s rushing attack.

24. Penn State HB Saquon Barkley has a breakaway percentage of 53.4%, 10th among RBs with at least 100 carries.

Barkley has been huge for Penn State this year, and finished as our 14th-highest-graded RB in college football at 81.9 overall. His ability to break any run for a huge gain has been key for the Nittany Lions. He has 24 runs that have gone for 15 or more yards this year, which is the eighth-most among RBs. He’s also forced 61 missed tackles when rushing the football, which also ranks eighth among RBs.

Sugar Bowl

Auburn Tigers vs. Oklahoma Sooners

25. Auburn’s edge defender Carl Lawson has 60 total pressures this season, the third-most among 3-4 outside linebackers.

Lawson has been Auburn’s only true pass-rushing threat, but what a threat he’s been. Nine of his 60 pressures resulted in sacks, and his pass-rushing productivity of 14.4 ranks 11th at his position. He has a pass-rushing grade of 90.5 that ranks sixth among edge defenders. Auburn will need to get pressure to disrupt the strong passing attack of Oklahoma if they’re going to have any chance at winning this game.

26. Oklahoma WR Dede Westbrook has averaged 5.26 yards per route run since Week 3, the second-highest among WRs since then.

There arguably hasn’t been a better receiver in college football this year than Biletnikoff winner Westbrook. Since healing from a start-of-season injury, he’s caught 57 passes for a ridiculous 1305 yards and 16 touchdowns. He’s an incredible deep threat, as 13 of those passes, 672 of those yards and 13 of those touchdowns have come on passes more than 20 yards downfield. It helps having the highest-graded quarterback in college football throwing to him in Baker Mayfield, but this has been Westbrook’s year. If Oklahoma are to win this game, they’ll need a huge performance from him.

| Analyst

Bryson has been an analyst at Pro Football Focus since 2014, and has also been a contributor to 120 Sports.

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