In the last Tuesday night in MACtion 2020, there were two performances that could not be missed. Dustin Crum was the definition of efficiency. He went 22 of 25 passing for 348 yards and three touchdowns. An 88% completion percentage is pretty amazing. Coaches wouldn’t run the ball if they could get 88% of their pass plays completed. On top of that, Crum ran the ball 13 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
In the other game, Jaret Patterson terrorized Bowling Green again. Patterson ran the ball 31 times for 301 yards and 4 touchdowns. Every touch went for an average of 9.7 yards. In their 2019 meeting Patterson ran for 298 yards on 26 carries. He had SIX touchdowns in that game. I’m guessing the Falcons have seen enough Patterson for a while.
It begs the question, who was better? It’s a bit of apples and oranges, but I’m going to take a stab at it.
Are these historical performances?
A question came to my mind, how often does a stat line like this occur? It doesn’t really come into the calculation to determine which is better, but it could show how likely we are to see this again.
Milestones in statistics are arbitrary. I could set my cut off for rushing yards in a game at 284 as easily as 300, but 300 is an even number.
I could find reliable data for the most rushing yards per game as far back as 2016. Since 2016, this is the only game where a MAC player recorded more than 300 yards. Jarvion Franklin, Bryant Koback, LeVante Bellamy, and Tre Harbison are all great MAC running backs at the center of their offenses. None went for 300 yards in a game.
The milestones I used for comparison with Crum were 300 yards passing and 100 yards rushing in the same game.
In the same data set, since 2016, there was only one other player to go for 300+ and 100+. It wasn’t even a different player. Dustin Crum did it against Ball State last year. No one else. That was very surprising to me. There have been a couple dual threat quarterbacks that could do it.
Nathan Rourke had some great rushing games. Didn’t pass well in them. Tyree Jackson had four games of 300+ yards passing. None of them were big rushing games for him. Brogan Roback and Drew Plitt each had seven 300+ passing yard games. Both were largely throwing from the pocket.
Who had an easier task?
Both players were historically great, even if it is just recent history. Who’s game situation was more difficult? No disrespect to Akron and Bowling Green, but these are not strong defenses. Both are in a rebuilding phase in the second year of a new coach.
Per SP+ Akron is slightly better defense at 115th. Their resume has a red hot WMU offense, Kent State with Dustin Crum, and Ohio on it. Ohio was satisfied to squat on 24 points and shorten the game.
Bowling Green, meanwhile, has had an inability to stop the run this year. Kent State racked up 295 rushing yards, Toledo went for 310, and Patterson went for 301 by himself. On per rush average Buffalo had the best day. They averaged 8.3 yards a rush. More than 2 yards better than their previous opponents.
Both have played the better offenses in the MAC. It explains some of the bad defensive stats they both have to show for three games. That’s as much of a break I can give either team.
Crum and Patterson didn’t have the strongest opposition, but I’d give Crum the slightest edge in strength of opposition.
Who was needed more?
Akron’s offense found their stride on Tuesday. Specifically Teon Dollard. Akron found a way to use a one dimensional offense to score 35 points.
Crum’s six touchdowns were pretty necessary. I’m not saying that Crum had to responsible for all of them but he was. Another element that played into his performances was the number of plays and opportunities he had. Kent State runs an up tempo offense. Combine that with a total of 56 points scored in the first half, Kent State fed the hot hand.
The Buffalo defense kept Bowling Green in check for the most part. They gave up a field goal in the first three quarters and a couple of garbage time touchdowns. Their lead was built with their offensive line and their running backs.
Kevin Marks ran for 90 yards as well. Late in the game Patterson exploded. When the Bulls were trying to run the ball and kill the game, Patterson broke out runs of 67 and 57 yards.
Given that Bowling Green could not score outside of garbage time and haven’t forced anyone to throw the ball this season, Akron pushed Crum harder to perform. As it turns out Dustin Crum had plenty to give Akron.
The “Eye Test” is a split decision
Patterson made it look so easy he didn’t pop off the screen. His offensive line gave him huge holes. That’s definitely not to say that when he was in the open field he didn’t display his exceptional vision. He also falls forward and turns 4 yard runs into the center of the defense into 5 and 6 yard runs constantly.
It’s not his fault Buffalo is a good team that helps him look effortless.
Crum displayed skills easier to see. He was extremely accurate. It’s hard to have a 22 for 25 passing game and not be accurate. The part that was really striking was how often his passes were hitting receivers in stride.
So many of his passing yards were after the catch, but his receivers didn’t slow down to make the catch. All of his throws gave his teammates a chance to make a catch. Sideline throws weren’t a little too far out of bounds to be catchable, they were right on the money.
Crum escaped pressure, threw on the run, and tucked and ran at just the right moments. He also stayed in bounds and fought for yards. Dustin Crum put on a show.
The best part is, they get to settle it this Saturday. They square off against each other the Saturday after Thanksgiving. That game could decide the MAC East. Also, if points are your thing, I’d turn this one on. The superweapons meet in Buffalo.