STAT WATCH: Air Force on pace for 3rd rushing title in row
Air Force has reached the halfway point of the season well on its way to winning its third straight national rushing title, and Ohio State is on pace to be the top scoring team again.
The Falcons are running for 352.7 yards per game and likely will average more than 300 per game for a third year in a row. Their triple-option offense hasn’t ranked lower than fourth in rushing since 2014.
Ohio State is averaging 48.8 points per game and has scored at least 45 in five straight. The Buckeyes’ degree of difficulty increases with Iowa and Penn State up next.
Texas Tech moved from fourth to first in passing yards per game (365.2) after throwing for 379 in a loss to Oklahoma State.
Tennessee is in its third straight week as the total offense leader. The Volunteers had 502 yards against LSU, their second-lowest total of the season, but are still averaging 547.8 per game.
On the defensive side, Illinois’s 9-6 win over Iowa marked the third time in six games it’s held an opponent to six or fewer points. That lowered its average to a nation-best 8.0 per game.
Minnesota, idle Saturday, moved past James Madison to lead the nation in total defense at 222 yards per game. James Madison is first in rushing defense at 42 yards per game and Boise State is giving up a nation-low 134.3 passing yards per game.
Illinois’ Chase Brown remains the leader in rushing yards with 879 following his seventh straight 100-yard game, but UAB’s DeWayne McBride crossed the NCAA threshold of having played in 75% of his team’s games and has the top average of 160.3 yards per game. Brown is second at 146.5.
Mississippi State’s Will Rogers is first in passing yards at 351.7 per game. Old Dominion’s Ali Jennings III and SMU’s Rashee Rice are neck-and-neck for most receiving yards per game, with Jennings averaging 137.6 and Rice 137.4.
Israel Abanikanda of Pittsburgh became the first 300-yard rusher since 2020 when he went for a school-record 320 on 36 carries against Virginia Tech.
Abanikanda beat the previous Pitt record of 303 yards by Tony Dorsett in 1975 against Notre Dame. Abanikanda’s six touchdowns tied the school and Atlantic Coast Conference records.
His big outing came a week after he left the game against Georgia Tech in the second quarter because of a shoulder injury.
The previous Bowl Subdivision player to go over 300 was Ohio State’s Trey Sermon, who had 331 on 29 carries against Northwestern in 2020.
Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell became the first FBS player since 2006 to intercept four passes in a game, according to Sportradar. He ran back two of them for touchdowns in the Rockets’ 52-32 win at Northern Illinois.
Mitchell entered the game with no interceptions in 24 career games. All four occurred within NIU’s first seven possessions.
He had three in the first half, returning the first one 20 yards for a touchdown and the second one 25 for a score. His third interception was in the end zone as NIU threatened to score late in the half, and he picked off Ethan Hampton again on the Huskies’ first series of the third quarter.
The previous player with four interceptions was Middle Tennessee State’s Damon Nickson, who did it in 2006 against Louisiana.
TURNING THE TIDE
Alabama’s four turnovers against Texas A&M were its most in a win since it had the same number in a 42-21 victory over Florida in 2014. The Crimson Tide have won seven of the 12 games in which it has had at least four turnovers since 2000, according to Sportradar.
The Tide had entered the game tied with Miami (Ohio) for fewest turnovers since 2017 among teams that have been in the FBS since then. They now have 69 and are behind Miami (66) and Army (68).
FIRST ONE’S A GOOD ONE
Jayce Rogers returned a kickoff for the first time since he transferred to Houston last year, and he took it all the way.
Rogers’ 100-yard return came in the fourth quarter of the Cougars’ 33-32 win over Memphis and was their 18th kick return for a touchdown since 2008.
Rogers ran back kicks for Northwest Mississippi Community College prior to joining the Cougars and had one return for a touchdown.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://bit.ly/3pqZVaF