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December 2, 2008

Inside the numbers: Championship insight

Each week, we'll look at some statistics involving individuals and/or teams that we find intriguing.

1. Alabama leads the nation in third-down defense. The Crimson Tide are allowing foes to convert on just 25 percent of their third-down opportunities (43 of 172). That would seem to bode ill for Florida, which meets the Tide in the SEC Championship Game and is converting on 48.9 percent of its third-down opportunities (14th in the nation). One thing worth noting: Florida State is second in third-down conversion defense (26.1 percent), and Florida converted 50 percent of its opportunities (6-for-12) against FSU last week.

2. Four teams in conference championship games are in the top 10 in total defense and three rank in the 90s. Alabama (third), Virginia Tech (sixth), Florida (seventh) and Boston College (eighth) rank among the nation's best in total defense. But Missouri (92nd), Buffalo (94th) and Tulsa (95th) rank near the bottom nationally in the same category. The others: East Carolina is 41st, Ball State is 58th and Oklahoma is 66th.

3. Graham Harrell and Case Keenum could make history. Harrell, from Texas Tech, and Keenum, from Houston, are on a pace to throw for 5,000 yards. Keenum has thrown for 4,768 yards and Harrell has thrown for 4,747, and each should get to 5,000 in their bowl game. The others to pass for more than 5,000 yards in a season: Texas Tech's B.J. Symons (5,833) in 2003, Harrell (5,705) last season, Hawaii's Colt Brennan (5,549) in 2006, BYU's Ty Detmer (5,188) in 1990, Houston's David Klingler (5,140) in 1990, Tulsa's Paul Smith (5,065) last season and Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury (5,017) in 2002.

4. Eastern Michigan QB Andy Schmitt set an NCAA record last week. Schmitt, a junior, completed 58 passes in the Eagles' upset of Central Michigan on Friday. That set an NCAA major-college record for completions in a game. The record had been 55, set by Wake Forest's Rusty LaRue in 1995 and tied by Purdue's Drew Brees in 1998. Schmitt was 58-of-80; LaRue was 55-of-78 and Brees was 55-of-83.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be heard on Rivals Radio every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. ET and can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.



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