College Football's Most Efficient And Balanced Offenses

FairwayJay provides a statistical profile of the college football teams with the most balanced and efficient offenses

It’s time for my annual update on the strongest and most balanced offenses in college football. This statistical profile shows which teams balance the run and pass to create greater efficiency and scoring. In an effort to assist you in your handicapping and lead you to more winners whether betting sides, totals or potentially team totals and props, check out the information and guide to these stronger, balanced teams on offense.

These teams should be especially profitable the rest of the season when listed as an underdog in a weekly contest. We noted such in last year’s National Championship pick and profile when Clemson (+6) beat Alabama with elite statistical profiles in balancing their offense combined with a dominating defense.

Match-ups are always key, as is isolating value in the betting line when shopping at the leading online sportsbooks. We should improve on our ATS performance the second half of the season utilizing not only some of these offensive stat profiles, but also the strongest defensive teams which I will provide in the week ahead as well.

All FBS teams have now played 2-3 conference games, and some have scheduled stronger non-conference opponents so we can use more realistic numbers and stats from selected opponents and those moving forward. That includes for the Top 25 teams, where much of the focus seems to be as the sportsbooks take more betting action on those top-ranked teams and match-ups.

NCAA football teams with the best offensesThe college football Top 25 polls and rankings are not important, but what is significant is stats that matter and against what caliber of opponents. While total yards gained, yard per play and rushing and passing numbers are worthy statistics to consider, the way in which teams accumulate those yards is significant. 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. These are some of your most productive and efficient offensive teams. As a guideline, I look for teams who both run and pass the ball for an average of at least 200 yards-per-game. This is the college football ‘200 Club’, as offensive balance is a key component to offensive efficiency.

However, this exercise and statistical profile also notes that there are some elite offensive teams that are not on the list. That includes Alabama and LSU, who are top 3 in the country in scoring and yards per game offense with elite passing games and quarterbacks. But note both those teams average less than 175 rushing yards per game.  

So there are other ways to be productive, but when a balanced offensive team lines up  a stronger defensive team, they are more likely to have some success on offense. Likewise, a stronger, balanced attack can tear apart a weaker defensive team.

The teams on this list are often most productive thanks to a strong offensive line, so watch for key injuries each week not only to the skill position players, but those offensive line players and also defenders that could impact how a team performs.

As scoring and offensive production has increased in more recent seasons, we adjust are numbers and parameters. Through Week 6 and games completed on October 5, 2019 there are 22 teams that both run and pass for at least 200 yards per game (against FBS opponents). Last year there were 19 teams through Week 7 when I posted a similar article. I’ve included Auburn on the list (195 passing per game) noting their strength of schedule.  

Offensive efficiency and 200+ run and pass 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 425 yards per game
 - average at least 6.0 yards per play
 - score at least 30 points per game against FBS opponents

Currently, 17 teams in the chart below fit the criteria used for stronger, balanced offenses (FBS opponents only).

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

Team Rush YPR Pass YPP Total Yards YPPL Points (PPG)
Appalachian State 207 5.4 218 8.9 425 6.6 48
Auburn 230 5.2 200 7.4 430 6.0 34
Boston College 233 4.8 248 7.8 481 6.0 31
Clemson 226 6.1 263 8.1 489 7.0 38
Georgia 245 6.8 255 9.2 500 7.8 38
Louisville 207 4.4 263 9.9 470 6.1 30
UL Lafayette 282 6.6 206 7.3 488 6.8 36
UL Monroe 201 5.1 261 7.2 462 6.0 32
Memphis 224 5.7 209 8.8 433 6.7 36
Ohio State 289 6.2 246 9.3 535 7.1 49
Oklahoma 283 7.9 338 12.3 621 9.7 49
Oklahoma State 301 5.9 216 7.7 519 6.4 37
SMU 207 4.4 292 8.6 499 6.1 44
Utah 216 5.1 223 9.1 440 6.4 32
Wake Forest 200 4.1 292 8.8 492 6.0 33
Western Michigan 205 6.0 286 7.6 491 6.6 32
Wisconsin 254 5.5 202 8.1 456 6.3 43

These five teams also run and pass for at least 200 yards per game, but fall short in other categories. Evaluate them moving forward and stat profiles that are improving or declining. 

Nebraska (418 YPG/28 PPG). New Mexico (25 PPG), Ole Miss (25 PPG), TCU (5.6 YPPL), Georgia State (5.3 YPPL) 

evaluating college football offensesAs you evaluate these teams and update the stats weekly, recognize that 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 parameters (patterns, ATS systems) 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 online sportsbooks 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.

Currently there are 30 teams that rush for at least 200 yards per game (23% of the 130 FBS teams), which is slightly below the past two years at this time of the season. There are 55 teams that pass for at least 250 YPG, down from 43 teams a week later last season, but similar to two years ago. And 95 of the 130 FBS teams pass for at least 200 yards per game.

Teams that run for 200+ and pass for 250+ with greater efficiency include:
- Clemson
- Georgia
- Oklahoma
- Wake Forest
- Louisville
- UL Monroe
- Western Michigan

And Ohio State just misses with 289 rushing and 246 passing, but the Buckeye’s are clearly an elite offensive team. 

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 affect more areas of the game including ball control and the clock. So that’s why having a balanced offensive attack is more effective and efficient and can be counted on when an opposing team does slow one facet of the offense. 

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.

Currently, there are 30 teams that average at least 450 total yards-per-game on offense; down from 35 at this time last season. 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 stronger, balanced  teams can be attractive teams to bet on, especially as an underdog and even more so if they also feature a strong defense as I noted in the biggest game of the season last year when Clemson beat Alabama 44-16 in the national championship game.

From the balanced offense chart, these teams also feature top-25 defenses in yards against: Wisconsin (182), Ohio State (234), Clemson (255), Georgia (277). 

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. 

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.

Check out the leading online sportsbooks,  including those with reduced juice, and profit not only from my experience, but those well-established bookmakers and sportsbooks. 

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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