5 crazy good stats in college football: Bowl season edition
Every week this season, Ryan Jenson dove into the data to bring you the most impressive performances from around the nation. Here are the numbers that stood out from bowl season:
Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford) had the best college season of any running back. Ever.
Do you remember Melvin Gordon at Wisconsin last year? He was unstoppable. In Week 14 of 2014 against Nebraska, he ran for what was at the time an NCAA record 408 yards en route to 2,587 yards on the year. He had the most yards of any running back in college football history other than the great Barry Sanders in 1988. Gordon led all running backs with a season grade of +31.7.
In 2015, Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey made Gordon look like he was running in snow pants. By virtually every metric, McCaffrey had one of the most historic seasons we’ve ever seen. He shattered Barry Sanders’ all-purpose yards record by 614 yards (3,864). In the Rose Bowl, he was the first player in the bowl’s history to have 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving. In the end, he graded out to +51 — almost 20 points higher than Gordon’s terrific 2014 season. In addition, he received a grade of +16.5 as a kick and punt returner – good for second in the nation. He runs, he catches and he returns kicks at an elite level.
In the Dallas Bowl, Myles Gaskin (RB, Washington) had an elusive ranking of 281.5.
Freshman running back Myles Gaskin was nearly impossible to tackle in the Dallas Bowl. Against Southern Miss, he racked up 13 missed tackles on the way to an elusive rating of 281.5. For some perspective, the elusive rating leader for 2015 is Penn State’s Saquon Barkley at 128. Gaskin finished the game with 181 yards and four touchdowns. Of the 181 yards, 152 of them came after contact. From Week 6 on, Gaskin was PFF’s third-highest running back behind the aforementioned McCaffrey and Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott. Gaskin finished the season with a grade of +27.4. The future is bright for the Huskies with Gaskin and fellow freshman quarterback Jake Browning (+23.6).
In the Military Bowl, Matt Galambos (LB, Pittsburgh) had 12 stops and 0 missed tackles.
Junior Matt Galambos led all linebackers during bowl season with 15 tackles. Even more impressive was his 12 stops. A stop is defined as “a tackle that prevents offensive success” (click this link for PFF signature stat definitions). It’s a good measure of a defensive player’s disruption ability. With 12 stops and zero missed tackles, Galambos did all he could to contain PFF’s No. 3 running quarterback, Navy’s Keenan Reynolds. In the end, Galambos’ herculean effort wasn’t enough to slow the Midshipmen running game as the Panthers lost 44-28.
In the Music City Bowl, Texas A&M receivers Christian Kirk and Josh Reynolds were targeted 35 times.
The Aggies’ wide receiver duo were first and second in the nation in targets for all bowl games. Only nine aimed passes were directed at other Texas A&M receivers. While 35 targets between two players is a crazy stat, it’s not necessarily good. Aggie quarterback Jake Hubenak had a passer rating of 99.4 when targeting Reynolds, but only a rating of 63.2 when targeting Kirk. Hubenak was clearly zeroing in on the two receivers and Louisville was able adjust. The Cardinals pass coverage graded out to +2.9 and they won the game 27 – 21.
In the Rose Bowl, Mike Tyler (Stanford, OLB) created pressure on 70 percent of his pass rushes.
Junior linebacker Mike Tyler rushed the quarterback ten times and he caused pressure on seven of them. He had one sack, one hit and five hurries. His pass rush grade for the game was +4.2. His pass rush grade for the entire regular season? +1.9. Iowa’s biggest offensive question mark entering the game was their pass protection. Tyler’s ability to disrupt the Hawkeyes passing game led to a 35-0 lead at halftime and eventual 45-16 victory.
Ezekiel Elliott was able to complete the perfect pass blocking season as a running back. He didn’t allow a sack, hit or even a hurry on 103 pass blocking snaps.