STAT WATCH: FBS rushing title is 3rd straight for Air Force
Air Force became the first team to win the national rushing title three straight seasons since Navy did it four years in a row from 2005-08, Tennessee had the lowest total offense average for a national leader in 20 years, and Texas A&M gave up the most yards ever by a pass defense leader.
Those were the biggest takeaways from a 2022 season in which statistical trends mostly held steady compared with previous years.
Air Force and its triple-option offense ran for 326.7 yards per game, comfortably ahead of Army’s average of 289.4 and nearly identical to its 327.8 of a year ago.
Washington averaged 369.8 passing yards per game, the lowest by a national leader since Marshall’s 365.1 in 2012.
Tennessee’s average of 525.5 total yards per game was lowest by a national leader since Boise State’s 505.1 in 2002. The Volunteers also led the FBS in scoring at 46.1 points per game.
National leaders on the defensive side were Illinois in points per game (12.8), Georgia in rushing yards per game (77), Texas A&M in passing yards per game (156.2) and Air Force in total allowed per game (254.4).
Texas A&M’s pass defense average of 156.2 per game was by far the highest by a national leader in NCAA records dating to 1937. Kansas State had the previous high of 129.3 in 1989.
UAB’s DeWayne McBride, who declared for the NFL draft the day he sat out the Bahamas Bowl, led the nation in rushing average with 155.7 yards per game. Air Force’s Brad Roberts, who had at least 100 yards in 11 of 13 games, had the top rushing total of 1,752 yards.
Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. led the nation in average passing yards per game with 357 and Western Kentucky’s Austin Reed had the top total with 4,744.
SMU’s Rashee Rice had the top receiving yards average with 112.9 per game, the lowest by a national leader since at least 1990, and Houston’s Nathaniel Dell had the most yards with 1,398.
The season ended with 41 rushing performances of 200 yards or better, topped by Frank Gore Jr’s NCAA bowl-record 329 against Rice in the Lending Tree Bowl on Dec. 17.
The son of former NFL star Frank Gore had touchdown runs of 64 and 55 yards and a 59-yard burst to set up another. He also threw for an 18-yard TD.
Gore’s 329 rushing yards came on 21 carries and broke the bowl record of 317 yards by Appalachian State’s Camerun Peoples against North Texas in the 2020 Myrtle Beach Bowl.
Fresno State’s Jordan Mims ran for a career-high 209 yards and two touchdowns against Washington State in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl as the Bulldogs became the first team in FBS history to begin the season 1-4 and finish with 10 wins.
3X PICK 6
TCU, Iowa and South Carolina each returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the postseason.
The Horned Frogs’ Bud Clark ran his back 41 yards and Dee Winters returned his 29 against Michigan in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl.
Iowa’s Xavier Nwankpa had a 52-yarder and Cooper DeJean a 14-yarder against Kentucky in the Music City Bowl.
South Carolina’s DQ Smith had a 53-yarder and O’Donnell Fortune a 100-yarder against Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl. Fortune was the second player this season to have a 100-yard pick 6, joining Wisconsin’s John Torchio.
FBS teams averaged 28.4 points per game, about the same as last year (28.5) and 1.6 below the record of 30 in 2016.
Yards per play slipped to 5.73, down from 5.8 last season and the record average of 5.83 in 2016.
Kickoff returns were the lowest on record in the fifth season since an NCAA rules change allows the receiving team to start at its own 25 if the return man makes a fair catch inside the 25. The average number of kick returns was 2.05 per game, less than half of the all-time high of 4.48 in 2007.
Games lasted an average of 3 hours, 27 minutes — one minute less than in 2020 and ’21 but nine minutes longer than in 2019, according to the NCAA.
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