San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny is Rushing to the College Football Finish Line in This Week’s Statistical Leaderboard

We made it. The final week of regular season play has come and gone and taken with it the last shred of our college football sanity.

Alabama lost to Auburn and dropped to number FIVE in the rankings. FIVE! The true nature of their schedule and questions about the validity of their wins are coming out of the woodwork leading us to believe that we could possibly see a playoff that doesn’t include the imposing Alabama Crimson Tide. Here is a fun article ranking all 19 of Nick Saban's losses.

What a time to be alive.

Miami also fell short this weekend, losing to Pittsburgh on Friday despite the fact that the Canes topped our leaderboard last week. Or maybe in spite of. I am the resident TSFJ jinx after all.

Some teams stayed above board – Wisconsin, TCU, Oklahoma, Clemson and Georgia to name a few.

In this week’s statistical leaderboard, we are celebrating those teams and individuals keeping up appearances and rushing towards the college football finish line. Because it’s not how you start, its how your finish. Here are a few statistics that deserve some respect this week.

No. 1 in Rushing Yards: Rashaad Penny, San Diego State – 2,027

San Diego State’s senior running back Rashaad Penny eclipsed 2,000 yards rushing this weekend in the Aztecs 35-10 win over New Mexico. Penny had 22 carries for 203 yards and two touchdowns in that game. He now has 275 carries for 2,027 total yards and 19 touchdowns this season – that is 179 more yards than the next guy, Stanford’s Bryce Love. Penny also leads the nation in rushing yards per game, averaging 168.9 yards per game through 12 games played.

Fun fact: in the fourth quarter of the New Mexico game, Penny went for over 200 yards rushing for the fourth straight game. He is the first player to do that since Tulane’s Matt Forte in 2007. The FBS record is five straight 200-yard games.

No. 1 in Rushing Defense: Wisconsin – 80.5 yards per game

With Alabama and Miami both losing, the Badgers are starting to look more attractive and some of the doubt surrounding their undefeated season is dissipating. Their 31-0 routing of Minnesota on Saturday helped, as did quarterback Alex Hornibrook's three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Yes the offense is impressive, but the Wisconsin defense has been the cornerstone of all its victories. Wisconsin has only allowed an average of 12 points per game this season and only 15 touchdowns from opponents. They only give up an average of 236.9 yards of total offense per game and 80.5 rushing yards per game.

The No. 4 Badgers are set to take on the ninth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship on Saturday. This is a favorable matchup for Wisconsin because a thorough routing of Ohio State would go a long way with the College Football Playoff committee. The only problem is - Ohio State is fire in the air with quarterback J.T. Barrett at the helm. This season, Barrett has thrown 2,728 yards for 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. So Wisconsin can stop the run all they want, but unless they figure out how to pick off Barrett, it will be a long day for the Badgers. Also, Wisconsin is 0-5 in its last five games against Ohio State.

Fun fact: Wisconsin has outgained and outrushed each of its 12 opponents this season.

No. 1 in Yards per Reception: Darius Slayton, Auburn – 25.45 yards per catch

The Auburn Tigers have officially become college football’s giant slayers. First they take down Georgia, then they stop the Crimson Tide. And now, Gus Malzahn’s team is headed to the SEC Championship Game, facing off against the Bulldogs one more time.

We all know Jarrett Stidham is a stud and Kerryon Johnson is a beast, but a name you might be less familiar with is Darius Slayton. The sophomore Auburn receiver leads the nation in yards per catch with an astounding 25.45. He has 22 catches for 560 yards and five touchdowns this season with monster grabs in most of Auburn’s victories, including the 52-20 win over Arkansas and the 40-17 win over Georgia. Watch for him to play a major role in the rematch this weekend.

No. 1 in Red Zone Defense: TCU - .607

TCU is living proof that defense wins championships – hopefully.

The Horned Frogs killed it when it came to stopping other teams from scoring this season. In 12 games, the Horned Frogs allowed just 28 red zone attempts from their opponents and just 17 red zone scores – four rushing touchdowns, six passing touchdowns and seven field goals made.

TCU is going to need to utilize every inch of its red zone defense when the Horned Frogs face No. 2 Oklahoma and Baker Mayfield on Saturday in the Big 12 Championship Game. While Mayfield is one of the most productive quarterbacks in college football, the Sooners only rank 25th nationally when it comes to red zone offense, scoring 56 times out of the 62 attempts they have made this season.

A convincing win over Oklahoma would give Gary Patterson’s squad a fighting chance in the College Football Playoff field.

No. 1 in Red Zone Offense: Georgia - .978

The Bulldogs bounced back from the Auburn loss with definitive wins against Kentucky last week and in-state rival Georgia Tech this weekend. They also lead the nation in just one statistical category: red zone offense. In 12 games, the Bulldogs have scored on 44 out of their 45 red zone attempts – 23 rushing touchdowns, 10 passing touchdowns and 11 field goals. This statistic will come in handy when Georgia faces off against Auburn again for the SEC championship on Saturday.

Auburn is svelte in the red zone as well, scoring on 48 of its 53 attempts. But defensively, the red zone is a different story for the Tigers. Out of the 26 trips Auburn’s opponents have taken to the red zone, they have scored 22 times. And out of those 22 scores, 15 have been touchdowns.

Basically this means that Georgia has a significant statistical advantage on offense. Whether or not that translates into a win this time is up to the Dawgs.

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