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November 25, 2008

Interesting stats: Contenders need defense

Each week, we'll look at some statistics involving individuals and/or teams that we find intriguing.

1. Three teams are in the top 20 in total offense and total defense. The trio is Florida, Penn State and USC. USC is second in total defense and 15th in total offense. Penn State fourth in total defense and 16th in total offense. Florida is ninth in total defense and 18th in total offense. Five times this decade, the national champion has finished in the top 20 in both categories: Florida in 2006 (19th in offense, sixth in defense); Texas in 2005 (third in offense, 10th in defense); USC in 2004 (12th in offense, sixth in defense); Miami in 2001 (eighth in offense, sixth in defense); and Oklahoma in 2000 (18th in offense, eighth in defense).

2. Oklahoma and Texas are trying to buck recent history. The Longhorns and Sooners each are squarely in the national title picture, but their relatively low defensive rankings Texas is 53rd in total defense, OU is 56th give cause for pause. The worst defensive ranking for a national titlist this decade? USC was 30th in total defense in 2003, when it shared the national title. The only other titlist this decade that didn't have a top-20 defense was Ohio State, which ranked 23rd in 2002.

3. Tulsa is on pace to have the No. 3 offense of all time. The Golden Hurricane may have lost two of their past three games, but they still are averaging 584.6 yards per game. If Tulsa maintains that pace, it will finish No. 3 in NCAA history in single-season total offense. The record is 624.9 yards per game, by Houston in 1989. No. 2 is Houston in 1990, when it averaged 586.8 yards per game. The current No. 3 is BYU in 1983, when it averaged 584.2 yards per game.

4. Rice WR Jarett Dillard is a receiving machine. Dillard, a senior, last week increased his career total to 4,009 receiving yards. He's just the 10th player in major-college history to reach that plateau. Earlier this season, Dillard became the NCAA leader in career TD receptions, and he now has 59. In addition, he has 19 TD catches this season. He has at least two more games left and has a chance to finish among the top five in single-season TD receptions. The record is 27, by Louisiana Tech's Troy Edwards in 1998. That seems out of reach, but No. 2 is 25 by Marshall's Randy Moss in 1997; that is within reach. Third all-time is 22, by Houston's Manny Hazard (1999), Pitt's Larry Fitzgerald (2003) and Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree (2007).

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be heard on Rivals Radio every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. ET and can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

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