The 3 Most Efficient Offenses in College Football
There are many high-powered offenses in college football in 2015 -- that has never been more evident than now.
In Week 5, five top-25 teams (Baylor, TCU, LSU, Oklahoma and Stanford) scored 44 points or more on their way to victories. Two more teams -- Alabama and Florida -- accounted for 38 points each in wins over top-25 opponents on Saturday.
At the expense of solid defenses, offenses were putting up points in bunches this week. However, only one of the above seven teams are among the most efficient offensive teams in the nation.
It's crazy to think that's the case but it's the truth. With that being said, who are the three best and most efficient offenses in the country, according to our algorithms?
3. Baylor Bears
The Baylor Bears took center stage this Saturday as they took on another great offense, Texas Tech, in a shootout on national television. Their defense left a lot to be desired as they surrendered 633 total yards, 530 passing yards and 35 points to the Red Raiders' aerial attack.
Art Briles' offense, on the other hand, was good enough to outscore Kliff Kingsbury's team by 4 touchdowns on their way to 680 total yards (312 passing, 368 rushing) and 63 points. That's great and all but it was just another day at the office for Baylor's offensive onslaught. Actually, it was a down day for the Bears, as they are averaging 745.3 yards and 63.8 points per contest.
How do they do it? Believe it or not, the Bears sport an incredibly balanced attack. They average 368.5 passing yards, 5.3 passing touchdowns to go with 376.8 yards and 3.8 touchdowns on the ground. This balanced attack is why the Bears, according to our metrics, rank in the top 10 in both adjusted passing (10.55) and rushing (5.84) yards per play and lead the nation in terms of nERD (33.13).
Their combined adjusted yards per play of 16.39 ranks third in the country, but the Bears' may be the best overall team in the country. In regards to offense alone, who is better than the Bears?
2. Navy Midshipmen
This one may come as a surprise but, according to the numbers, Navy is one of the most efficient offenses in the entire country. Yes, we all know that year in and year out Navy ranks among the top teams in rushing due to their option offense -- and this year is no different.
Navy is third in the nation with 339.8 rush yards per game and ranks eighth in adjusted rush yards per play (5.85). Their running game is as good as ever. It accounts for over 89% of their plays and over 69% of their total touchdowns through four games. What about the passing game though?
As you can see from their 89:11 pass to run ratio, Navy doesn't pass the ball very often at all. In fact, Navy attempts just 7 passes and completes a mere 3.5 attempts per game. They are not Baylor by any stretch of the imagination -- they still get the job done though.
Sure, the Midshipmen have just two passing touchdowns on the season, but their quarterback, Keenan Reynolds, has a rating of 158.7. How you might ask? Reynolds has just 14 completions, so he's thrown a touchdown one out of every seven completions. On those completions, he's averaging 18.9 yards while averaging 10.6 adjusted pass yards per play -- good enough for fourth in passing efficiency.
So in their own twisted way, the Midshipmen have a balanced, efficient attack. Therefore, it shouldn't be such a surprise that they're tied for first in overall adjusted yards per play (16.45). I can't wait to see how they match up with Notre Dame's defense this Saturday!
1. USC Trojans
Full disclosure: the Trojans are the only team with a loss among this group of three. The box score from their last game against Arizona State would not give you that indication.
In a 42-14 win on the road in Tempe, the men of Troy scored 28 points in the second quarter alone while amassing 455 total yards over the course of the contest. What's crazy is that the Trojans had eight fewer first downs than their opponent. How'd that happen? Cody Kessler, the outstanding USC quarterback, had passing touchdowns of 27 and 80 yards -- eliminating a few first down opportunities. That's just how this Trojan offense has operated this year though.
USC, unlike Navy and Baylor, does not possess one of the best rushing offenses in the country. They are 59th in rushing yards per game (175.0) and 40th in adjusted rush yards per play (4.80). That's not bad, but it's nothing near the top rushing attacks and it doesn't give the Trojans a super-balanced balanced offense.
They easily make up for it with their elite passing game on the arm of Cody Kessler. The Trojans are 11th in the nation in passing yards per game (357.0) and average 11.65 adjusted pass yards per play. The next closest team is Memphis with 10.98 per. The gap is pretty sizable, and it's no wonder why. Kessler is one the best -- if not the best -- passers in college football.
The USC quarterback ranks second in both passer efficiency rating (201.2) and adjusted pass yards per attempt (12.7), and he is third in completion percentage (73.0%) and passing touchdowns (15). He's the reason why USC is the most efficient offense in the country with an overall adjusted yards per play of 16.45 and a nERD of 26.77 (which acted as a tiebreaker over Navy's 24.21).
It'll be interesting to see if USC can ride its elite offense to an 8-0 record the rest of the way and possibly a berth in the College Football Playoff.