Plenty of attention has been given to Virginia Tech, the first team since Florida State in 1993 to finish first in scoring offense and scoring defense. Now lend an ear to the stories behind the teams that finished last in the main statistical categories, if for no other reason than that those tales are often amusing. There's a reason that Division l-A rookie Buffalo finished 114th in pass-efficiency defense and total defense: There are only 114 teams. A paean to 10 painful seasons:
RUSHING, Temple (left), 61.6 yards per game
LOW POINT: Minus two yards in 28 attempts versus Virginia Tech. EXCUSE: Owls would rather pass. Also finished last in rush attempts (22.4 per game). COMMENT: Hokies' low point: Gave up one of Owls' four rushing touchdowns.
PASSING, Rice, 54.7 yards per game
LOW POINT: Quarterback Chad Richardson's line in 37-3 loss at Michigan: 1-3-2, 15 yards. Hey, no incompletions. EXCUSE: These Owls would rather run the ball. They use the triple option. COMMENT: One touchdown every 13.6 passes (7 in 95) is better than the ratio of Purdue's Drew Brees (21 in 494; 1:23.5).
SCORING, South Carolina, 7.9 points per game
LOW POINT: Scored one touchdown in first five games. EXCUSE: Used six quarterbacks, none successfully. COMMENT: Scored less than Frasier Crane.
TOTAL OFFENSE, South Carolina, 228.6 yards per game
LOW POINT: Started four freshmen on offensive line against Kentucky. Result: 55 yards rushing. EXCUSE: Injuries, inexperience. COMMENT: Losing streak at 21.
RUSHING DEFENSE, Iowa, 246.9 yards per game
LOW POINT: Gave up 341 yards to Penn State, one more than the Nittany Lions gained in their last three games combined. EXCUSE: Suffered from poor recruiting by Hayden Fry's staff, which was dismantled in 1998. COMMENT: Hawkeyes are in the wrong league to fail to stop the run. Petition to join the Pac-10?
PASS-EFFICIENCY DEFENSE, Buffalo, 174.1 rating
LOW POINT: Quarterback Dan Ellis of Virginia riddled the Bulls: 16-19-0, 363 yards, six touchdowns. EXCUSE: Try playing a Division l-A schedule with a l-AA roster. COMMENT: Marshall quarterback Chad Pennington and Western Michigan signal-caller Tim Lester made it a bad year to join the MAC.
SCORING DEFENSE, San Jose State, 40.2 points per game
LOW POINT: Stretch drive: Spartans overtake Rutgers (38.8) by allowing Hawaii 62 points and Fresno State 63. EXCUSE: Young secondary, weak pass rush. COMMENT: Title tainted because game against low-scoring SMU was canceled.
TOTAL DEFENSE, Buffalo, 494.2 yards per game
LOW POINT: Central Michigan gained 562 yards versus Buffalo; averaged 340 yards against other teams. EXCUSE: Try playing a Division l-A schedule with a Division l-AA roster. COMMENT: List of players with personal bests against the Bulls stretches longer than the team's 0-11 season.
TURNOVER MARGIN, Georgia Tech, minus 12
LOW POINT: The real crime, coach George O'Leary says, is that quarterback Joe Hamilton lost the Heisman race because of Tech defense. EXCUSE: Started a young defense. COMMENT: Recovered one fumble in 10 games. Got two in finale against Georgia, one on a call so bad that the SEC suspended the crew.