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Stats That Matter: ECU Game Full of Anomalies

Brandon McDowell

The Houston Cougars breezed past East Carolina. Before I get to some numbers from the game, here’s a few stats that are interesting in their own right.

Turnovers Tell the Tale in Wins & Losses

Houston was #2 in the country in turnover margin in 2015 and 22nd in 2014. UH forced 35 and 30 turnovers, respectively, in those 2 years.

Last year, the Coogs were 107 in the country and forced only 18 turnovers. This season, UH sits at 65th with 17 forced turnovers.

Why it matters: In 3 losses this year, UH has forced just 4 turnovers combined – meaning, they’ve caused 14 TOs in 6 wins. Last year, in 4 losses the Cougars caused exactly 1 turnover – meaning 17 were created their 9 wins.

Since the start of the 2016 season, the Cougars have created just 5 turnovers in their 7 losses and 31 turnovers in their 15 wins.

ECU Game Numbers Don’t Add Up

UH ran away with this game early, eventually winning 52-27. That score, and D’Eriq King’s passing stats, belie a day where looking at any number of stats would suggest we got run out of the building. Back to the numbers in a minute.

QB D’Eriq King was impressive against a pretty bad ECU defense. But don’t let their defensive stats keep you from the fact that King threw a wonderful long ball – easily the best UH arm since Kevin Kolb – and he was poised and prepared in his first start. Kudos to the staff but also to King for being ready for his moment.

I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a team finish a game with more points than plays but that’s what we had Saturday. UH scored 52 points on just 48 snaps – that’s pretty efficient. (edit: I have seen it before! It was against Rice in 2011 – 67 plays and 73 points). But I can’t ever remember a team I rooted for run just 48 plays in a college football game.

The two worst games (in terms of total plays) in recent history before ECU were both in 2006 and back to back – at Miami (53 plays) and ULL at home (54). The difference being those teams played keep away and this week, Houston scored fast and ECU was generally inept.

Games with least # plays since 2006:
53 – Miami 2006
54 – ULL 2006
55 – Texas State 2010
56 – USF 2013
57 – Marshall 2011

Back to ECU … here are some strange statistical anomalies that I don’t ever remember seeing in a blowout that went the other way:

– ECU ran 50 more plays than UH (98-48).
– Coogs were more than doubled in first downs (33-16).
– ECU had 39 more completions (54-15).
– Pirate QBs threw it 54 more times (74-22).
– Houston lost the TOP battle by over 20 minutes (40:23-19:37).

For reference, the worst TOP for UH in the last decade was against UTSA in 2014 (22:14). UH has been destroyed in TOP the last 2 weeks and are 2-0. They won TOP ‘battle’ against Tulsa and Memphis (vs the Tigers, UH had it ). And for almost 38 minutes). TOP means little these days – even for a “ball control” offense like Major Applewhite’s Cougars.

UH has not had a game where a receiver caught 2 or more TDs. That’s peculiar.

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