College Football Handicapping – Strong and Balanced Offenses

A look at the offensive side of the ball through the first half of the college football season, where a balanced attack is a key to winning betting NCAA football.

Evaluating the Powerful, Balanced and Efficient Offenses in College Football

It's time for my annual college football article analyzing the most powerful and balanced offensive teams. As we continue our pursuit of profit at the sports books and make the turn towards the halfway point of the college football regular season, we can now utilize some stronger statistical numbers in evaluating teams and match-ups. All BCS conference teams have now played at least two conferences games, and we can use more realistic numbers and stats from selected opponents and those moving forward as teams, and especially those in the power conferences, play similar and stronger opponents.

I annually research and document statistical profiles of teams, both offensively and defensively. One of the indicators I use for offensive strength is not just yards gained or yards per play, but how the teams accumulate those yards. In college football, it's important to control or dominate the line of scrimmage. And teams that can balance their offense and attack are usually more efficient and make it more difficult for opposing defenses and coordinators to defend and prepare. Evaluating opponents and strength of schedule is another factor you must analyze once you review the numbers and statistical profiles.

So as we evaluate the offensive side of the ball, one specific area of strength I pay attention to at this time of year are college football teams which have strong, balanced offenses. As a guideline, I look for teams who both run and pass the ball for an average of over 200 yards-per-game. This is the college football '200 Club', as offensive balance is a key component to offensive efficiency. As scoring and offensive production has increased in more recent seasons, we adjust are numbers and parameters. As of October 11, 2017 there are 27 teams that both run and pass for at least 200 yards per game.

College football betting tips and trendsHowever, offensive efficiency must also include scoring, as teams must be efficient in the red zone and also accumulate points. In addition, to strengthen the criteria, teams must:

 - accumulate at least 450 yards per game
 - average at least 6.0 yards per play
 - score at least 30 points per game against FBS opponents

So here are your most efficient offensive team's year-to-date, and the 12 teams that meet the current criteria of powerful and balanced offenses. These stats are taken from FBS games and opponents only. Be sure you update your stats weekly, and statistical profiles are just one way of handicapping games and match-ups. Fundamental (match-ups), situational (scheduling, look ahead, letdown) and a blend of meaningful technical (patterns) stats complete the process and profiles, and you must always understand the emotional and motivational components of college football teams. Coaching, cohesiveness, injuries and weather become a bigger factor as teams push towards a strong finish the second half of the season. And of course, using every available advantage, including shopping numbers at the leading sports books ensures that you're staying on top of your game and putting yourself in the best position to win more close games and ATS results.

YPR = Yards Per Rush - YPP = Yards Per Pass - YPPL = Yards Per Play - PPG = Points Per Game

Team Rushing YPR Passing YPP Total Yds YPPL PPG
Arizona 274 5.9 200 6.9 474 6.2 37
Central Florida 224 5.8 311 11.1 535 8.1 47
Clemson 239 5.2 234 7.5 473 6.01 35
La. Monroe 203 4.8 253 8.2 456 6.1 39
Ohio State 248 6.1 320 8.9 568 7.2 46
Oklahoma 203 5.6 384 12.5 587 8.5 44
South Florida 348 5.5 205 8.3 553 6.1 48
TCU 214 4.8 250 8.1 464 6.01 40
Texas San Antonio 226 5.5 245 8.3 471 6.5 30
Virginia Tech 200 4.2 301 8.9 501 6.01 35
West Virginia 216 5.3 372 8.6 588 6.9 40
Wisconsin 257 5.3 203 9.3 460 6.6 40

The three additional teams that run and pass for at least 200 yards per game but miss out in scoring, total yards or yards-per-play criteria mentioned include: Ohio, Texas A&M and Oregon. Watch these teams in the weeks ahead along with some others that are close to 200 yard balance and other criteria.

This year we're seeing less teams with overall stronger offensive yardage averages. Currently 12 teams fit the criteria indicated. Last year on Oct. 19, there were 17 teams that met the criteria. Clearly there are some strong offensive teams that score plenty with pass heavy offenses and others that rely on run heavy or option attacks. You can gain an edge in match-up handicapping for selected games, but teams that have balance are often more consistent and certainly ones to support when in an underdog role.
Currently there are 34 teams that rush for at least 200 yards per game (26% of the 130 FBS teams) and 53 teams that pass for at least 250 ypg, as teams that run for 200+ and pass for 250+ are your most powerful and balanced offensive teams – there are currently 7 such teams: Central Florida, Louisiana Monroe, Ohio State, Oklahoma, TCU, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

The ability to run the football effectively also helps on the defensive side of the ball by keeping a defense fresh. When a defense is on the field for more plays per game and facing a hurry-up and spread passing attack, it can wear them out. But clearly if a team struggles at the point of attack and cannot stop or slow an opponent's running game, it will effect more areas of the game including ball control and the clock. So that's why having a balanced offensive attack is more potent and efficient and can be counted on when an opponent team does slow one facet of the offense. And it's also important to have strong point of attack play and be able to run the ball effectively if the weather is an issue and prevents production in the passing game.

NCAA football offenses

Currently, there are 35 teams that average at least 450 total yards-per-game on offense. Of course, you need to evaluate previous opponents and adjust accordingly based on opponent strength of schedule and the upcoming schedule and opponents defensive strengths to feel more confident in your team's ability to sustain their offensive production and balance. The power teams can be attractive teams to bet on, especially as an underdog. If our power team has a strong defense to support this high-powered balanced offense then they often become an even stronger play in an underdog role; a situation to watch for and one I've used many times as it arises. From the current list, these teams from the offensive power list also feature top-25 defenses in yards against: Clemson, Wisconsin, Ohio State, South Florida, Texas San Antonio and Central Florida.

Good defensive coordinators can take an average defense and slow down another team's offense if they lack balance. Thus, high-powered passing teams that lack a solid running game are susceptible to an inconsistent performance, especially if their own defense is not up to par to hold down an opponent.

Update your numbers weekly and pay attention to on-field performance, especially vs. quality opponents. Yards-per-play differential is something to incorporate into your weekly handicap and match-up analysis, and note turnovers, special team's scores and turnover margin when evaluating box scores and not just the final score and result. You'll be laying a pretty big price with some of these power teams in the weeks ahead, so continue to evaluate on-field performance and dig deep into the injury reports as well. Pay attention to key losses and how a team performs so you can project letdown situations and recognize when a team has a match-up edge. As you become more proficient in evaluating team's strengths and weaknesses, you'll find yourself with more tap-in Birdies, and build your bankroll by getting the Green.

FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Read more great insights from Jay here and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay

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