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Three Wide – Week 1: Defense Optional

College football is typically dumb, occasionally predictable, and mostly chaotic. It seems like its only purpose is to cause mental frustration to everyone involved, and that frustration seems to hit fans the hardest. These fans have spent decade upon decade watching their seasons end in either victory or shambles, each outcome seemingly based on wild plays like the infamous “Kick Six” in 2013 or Clint Stoerner’s fumble in 1998. And however exciting those plays seem at the time, they are only a fraction of the story of a football game.

The rest of the story can be seen in the stats. And sometimes, those stats are stupid. Like when a team has a great offensive day but just turned the ball over at an inopportune time. Or maybe two teams just decide that defense is optional. There are always weird statistics in this game we love so much. This weekly article will highlight some of that truly odd statistical weirdness.

Tennessee – Lost a home opener, the first since 1983

This one stings. Full disclosure, I graduated from Rocky Top Junior High in 2008. Since then, they’ve fielded some bad teams, but I don’t ever remember publicly lighting a dumpster on fire the way the Volunteers did on Saturday. Tennessee didn’t have a running back with more than fifty yards.

Meanwhile, they gave up 200 yards on the ground to a team from the Sun Belt that won a whopping two games last year. Anemic isn’t good enough to describe what we all watched yesterday. It was a complete and total joke of a performance that will go down in college football lore alongside so many others.

And it happened to my team…ugh…moving on.

Utah State and Wake Forest – 1175 yards of offense

As college football junkies, optional defense is usually something we associate with the Big 12. So when ACC cellar dweller Wake hosted Gary Andersen and the old-look Utah State Aggies, I think we all expected at least a smidge of defense. And, well, that’s about all that we got.

Salt Lake City’s own Jaylen Warren ran for 141 yards on 19 carries. Not to be outdone, Demon Deacon RB Cade Carney ran for over a hundred himself. Both quarterbacks went for over 400 through the air. There were fifty three first downs. Defense wasn’t just optional, it practically didn’t exist.

That’s not to say there weren’t some bright spots. Wake managed three interceptions. Aggie linebacker David Woodward had a combined 24 tackles. But at the end of the day, the two offenses combined for almost 1200 yards, and the two defenses combined to try and figure out how to tie their cleats.

Purdue – 5 turnovers

Poor, poor Jeff Brohm. After turning down his alma mater in the offseason, he let it be known that this Purdue Boilermaker football team is his team.

That team turned the ball over five times.

Rondale Moore, the electric, all-everything receiver fumbled twice on his way to a 100-yard game. Elijah Sindelar threw for 423 yards, four touchdowns…and two picks. The last interception was an absolute knife to the heart for Boilermakers everywhere. Under very little pressure from an underwhelming Nevada pass rush, Sindelar never saw the safety that executed a near perfect tip drill to a waiting teammate. One 56-yard field goal later by a walk-on freshman kicker, Nevada secured the upset as 11-point home underdogs.

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