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November 23, 2010

Inside the stats: Turnover margin key

Each week during the season, we look at some statistics involving individuals and/or teams that we find intriguing. Here is this week's version:

1. There are just nine teams with winning records among the bottom 40 in turnover margin. SMU (6-5) has the worst margin of any winning team, at minus-10. Michigan (7-4) is next, at minus-7, with Fresno State (6-4) next at minus-6. Conversely, there is just one team with a losing record -- Georgia (5-6) -- among the top 20 in turnover margin and just six in the top 40. Georgia is at plus-8.

2. Six players are in double-digits in sacks, led by Clemson junior DE Da'Quan Bowers, who has 15.5.; he had four sacks combined in his first two seasons. Last season, 21 players had at least 10 sacks, while there were 25 in 2008.

3. The SEC long has been known for its strong defenses. This season, though, SEC teams are averaging 31.8 points per game, which is the highest for any league. Second is the Big 12 at 30.2, followed by the Big Ten at 30.0. The average college team this season scores 28.1 points per game.

4. Stanford leads the nation in third-down conversion percentage, at 57.5. The Cardinal are one of 14 schools that convert at least 50 percent of their third downs. San Jose State is last in conversion percentage, at 24.3 percent. The Spartans are the only team at less than 25 percent, and one of four at less than 30 percent.

5. On the other side of the ball, West Virginia leads the nation in third-down conversion defense, at just 21.7 percent. The most generous defense is Colorado State's, as the Rams -- who finished 3-9 -- allowed foes to convert 54.6 percent of their third downs. Rice (50.7 percent) is the only other team allowing a better than 50 percent conversion rate.

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