College Football Analytics: Week 1 Thursday Recap

Thursday Night Football did NOT disappoint.

There is just something about weekday college football that makes it so special. Even if you have to stay up way past your bed time because of some lightning in Central Florida. Either way the week 1 Thursday slate did not disappoint us!

*Note* During the season if I miss a certain game in my recaps, simply email ( DM on Twitter (@CFBNumbers) and I will happily provide you any number related thing you desire.

Also, I use Expected Points Added rather frequently in these recaps. If you need help digesting the decimals, I wrote about how to make it easier to read EPA/Play numbers.

Ohio State 45 - Minnesota 31

You may not know it looking at this box score, but this was a tale of two halves. To be honest, it was a little shaky from both teams to start this contest, but both teams came alive in the second half. Ohio State ends up finishing the game averaging half of a point of EPA/Pass, and the rushing game wasn’t too far behind. Credit the Ohio State OL with an impressive 4.1 line yards per carry and only 3.8% of rushes stuffed at the line.

For Minnesota, their offense was efficient through the air, but their reliance on the running game (especially the wildcat) may have cost them some opportunities in this game. Mohamed Ibrahim carried a bulk of the running load before unfortunately going down with an achilles injury. It felt like the game should have been given more to Tanner Morgan, instead of trying to cram it down an extremely decorated Ohio State DL.

Overall, both QB’s had impressive outings. CJ Stroud started out very shaky, but settled down in the second half and started to show some of that vintage Ohio State explosive passing. Tanner Morgan had himself an impressive game through the air, but with only 30 total plays you have to wonder why they didn’t air it out more.

UCF 36 - Boise State 31

Not even lightning can stop these two G5 powerhouses! Despite some shaky offensive performances, we still saw 67 points and a whole lot of fun. UCF (81.3% Post Game Win Probability) had to overcome some passing issues with its running game, which delivered a stellar 0.343 EPA/Rush performance. Hats off to the UCF DL, who stuffed half of all Boise State runs, and held the OL to just 0.2 OL yards per carry. Remember I said OL yards per carry was like a GPA? Yeah… thats a failing grade for the Boise State OL.

Overall not the greatest night for QB play, but thats about what you’d expect after numerous lightning delays on a week 1 game. The biggest elephant in the room is Dillon Gabriel losing nearly 28 expected points from sacks and turnovers. 12.45 of that came from the first drive of the game, where Gabriel short armed a ball into the end zone which resulted in a 100 yard pick six.

Outside of that play, Gabriel averaged 0.116 EPA/Play. Of course we can’t pretend like that play didn’t happen, but still not a bad night in a new offensive system for the 3rd year player out of the great state of Hawaii.

NC State 45 - USF 0

This one wasn’t really much of a contest. NC State was in control for the entire game, and used their rushing game to put the game away early. For USF, they are still looking for some momentum in their rebuilding process. They did manage to average positive EPA/Rush, but when you’re down early and need to pass more, that doesn’t really do much to help your chances.

Coming into this season a big storyline with NC State was the return of Devin Leary. At 0.094 EPA/Play… not exactly what you wanted to see, but nevertheless it is only game one. A near 60% success rate is nothing to be ashamed about, and we did see some of that explosiveness. An ugly interception marred what was supposed to be a welcome back statement from Leary.

Tennesse 38 - Bowling Green 6

Perhaps a little bit closer than you would have wanted if you’re a Vols fan, but a 32 point win is always a positive. The Tennessee DL really stepped up, stuffing 30.8% of BGSU’s runs, resulting in a -0.457 EPA/Rush. The hope was Josh Heupel would help rejuvenate this offense, particularly in the passing game.

So far through game one and we really didn’t see that with Joe Milton. Again, its only week 1 and… Tennesse has been going through some things this offseason. There is still plenty of time to improve, and Joe Milton has all the ability to get it done.

Quick shoutout…

If you’re a fan of G5 QB’s, Bailey Zappe is a name to know! He put up video game numbers against UT Martin. The Western Kentucky offense is fun to watch, and if you ever see them while you scroll thru the guide, I highly suggest you give them a watch!

If you want to dive in to the data like I do, check out @CFB_Data and @cfbfastR on Twitter, where you can learn how to get started in the world of College Football data analysis!

If you want to see more charts and one off analysis, follow my twitter page, @CFBNumbers

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