With all the anger, hate and division going on in our country right now, we at The Sports Fan Journal decided to dedicate this week’s college football statistical leaderboard to our favorite four-letter word: love. Let's focus on bringing people together over discussions about digits.
In this week’s column, our affection will be bestowed on those who bear the name Love, those who don’t get enough love and even teams and players that we love to hate. Here is who is getting all our adulation this week.
No. 1 in Rushing Yards Per Game: Bryce Love, Stanford - 196.8
Only fitting to have the namesake of our chosen word first up on this week’s leaderboard. The sophomore Stanford running back not only leads the nation in rushing yards per game, but also in total rushing yards with 787 off 73 carries and five rushing touchdowns. His 30 carries for 263 yards and a rushing touchdown in Stanford’s 58-34 victory over UCLA Saturday has now catapulted him into the same league with Penn State’s premiere running back Saquon Barkley and sparked some Heisman talk.
If you don't have Bryce Love on your Heisman watch list, re-evaluate your list. Watch that man play.
— Solomon Thomas (@SollyThomas90) September 24, 2017
Stanford is notoriously late to the Heisman promotional game and the Cardinal may not play in or win enough big games for Love to become a true contender, but his numbers and what he does for the Stanford offense certainly speak for themselves.
No. 1 in Field Goals Per Game: Matt Gay, Utah – 3.50
The @Utah_Football record for kicker points in a season is 122. With 56 through four games already, Matt Gay is on pace for 168.
— CFB Kicker Tracker (@cfbkickerstats) September 26, 2017
Kickers are people too, guys. And nobody needs love more than special teams. Well, except maybe offensive linemen.
Utah’s senior kicker Matt Gay leads the nation in field goals per game with 3.5. He is also tied for first in field goal percentage with a perfect 14-for-14 on field goals made in four games so far this season. This has earned him his very own hashtag: #MattGFor3.
Gay’s path to football was an unconventional and emotional one – he played soccer at a high level until college when life took a turn and the death of a close friend led him back to the football field. He walked on at Utah and never looked back. My friend, Holli Joyce, wrote an amazing story on his journey at KSL.com that you should all read while pretending you just got some dust in your eye.
No. 1 in All Purpose Yards: Saquon Barkley, Penn State – 253.25
Is Saquon Barkley Superman? He sure puts up superhuman numbers – in four games, Barkley has recorded 518 rushing yards, 335 receiving yards and 160 kick-off return yards. That is 96 plays for a total of 1,013 yards! He also has four rushing touchdowns as well as two receiving touchdowns.
In Penn State’s 21-19 victory over Iowa, Barkley finished with 211 rushing, 94 receiving and 53 return yards, setting a new all-purpose yards record at Penn State. But perhaps the biggest play of that game, the one that shows just how talented and selfless he is wasn’t even credited to him – that final touchdown from QB Trace McSorely to Juwan Johnson wouldn’t have been possible if not for Barkley’s block giving McSorely time to get off that beautiful pass.
That is love, y’all.
No. 1 in Completion Percentage: Oklahoma – 76.7%
While this clip doesn’t speak specifically to the Sooners' success on the field, it does 100% sum up Oklahoma’s completion percentage game, which is very strong. Oklahoma defeated Baylor 49-41 in Waco, Texas on Saturday and while QB Baker Mayfield didn't actually spank the Bears, he did complete 13-of-19 for 283 yards and three touchdowns.
Mayfield has completed 76-of-101 passes for 1,329 yards and 13 touchdowns. Also, it’s worth noting that he has thrown zero interceptions. And he shut down advances from Mia Khalifa. And he stabbed Ohio State’s field with an Oklahoma flag. Mayfield is just finally living his truth. And Oklahoma is reaping the benefits.
No. 1 in Teaching Teams A Lesson: Alabama
This video pretty much speaks for itself. But in case you missed the epic 59-0 beat down Alabama laid on Vanderbilt this weekend, we can recap it for you. Vandy tried to talk smack and ‘Bama clapped back hard demanding the respect they deserve by using touchdowns to torment the Commodores. Junior running back Bo Scarbrough had two scores while junior running back Damien Harris ran for a career-high 151-yards and three TDs.
Alabama has now won 19 straight over the SEC East. The Tide hasn’t lost to Vandy since 1984 or in Nashville since 1969. Alabama outgained Vanderbilt 677-78, the largest margin in the program’s history. The Tide also set a school record with 38 first downs.
"We want to be respected ... usually we are," Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts said, according to ESPN.com. "I guess we felt like we didn't have the respect that we kind of wanted coming into the game, so we just came out and came out here and tried to play Alabama football. I think we did a good job today."
Certainly, Vandy agrees with you, Jalen.
Sports writer. Avid fan, former player, once-upon-a-time coach, reluctant referee. I do digital media things with my friends. I also jinx kickers. Bay Area born & raised.