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October 6, 2009

Inside the stats: Flag on the play

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

1. There's a flag on the play. If it appears SEC officials call more unsportsmanlike conduct penalties -- like the crucial (and bogus) one called on Georgia's A.J. Green for "celebrating" his touchdown catch late in Saturday's Georgia-LSU game -- than officials in other leagues, it's because they do. Research by the fine folks at cfbstats.com shows that in conference games since the beginning of the 2007 season, SEC officials have called 37 unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Second-most among the Big Six leagues is the ACC with 26, followed by the Pac-10 (22), the Big East (12), the Big Ten (11) and the Big 12 (just seven). Percentage-wise, Sun Belt officials lead the way, with 27 such penalties in 60 games (0.45 per game); the SEC is second in that category, with the 37 coming in 112 games (0.33 per game). As for how we know the Green call was bogus, SEC supervisor of officials Rogers Redding told CBSSports.com the penalty should not have been called. "I've concluded that it was one that we probably should have let go," he said.

2. Seeing red. There are seven teams who have allowed opponents to score each time they've been in the red zone, and one -- surprisingly -- is Ohio State. Thing is, the Buckeyes are eighth nationally in scoring defense at 11.8 points per game. The incongruity between the two stats is easily explainable: Buckeyes opponents have been in the red zone just seven times in five games; they have scored six TDs and one field goal. The other six teams: Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico State, Troy, Vanderbilt and Virginia.

3. The good and the bad. There are five teams converting at least 55 percent of their third-down conversions -- BYU (60.0 percent), Florida (59.2), Wisconsin (56.3), Penn State (56.2) and West Virginia (55.1). And there are nine converting less than 30 percent -- USC (28.8), Western Kentucky (28.6), North Carolina (28.4), Utah State (27.8), Washington State (27.4), Arkansas (26.0), New Mexico (21.9), San Jose State (18.5) and Kent State (17.9).

4. Sack time. Texas A&M's Von Miller already has nine sacks (that's more than 57 teams) through four games. His pace of 2.25 per game would give him 27 for the season, which would break the record of 24 set by Arizona State's Terrell Suggs in 2002. (Worth noting is that NCAA individual defensive stats of that nature have been kept only since 2000.)

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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