College football is leaning in favor of offensive philosophies believing the more offensive plays per game, the better. Since 2003 there have been 80 teams to average 80 plays per game, but 38 of those teams recorded that season average in the last two years.
The Big 12 and Pac 12 have led the way with teams averaging 80 plays per game. Since 2003, each conference has seen 15 teams hit that average, which means it is much more than just Oregon and Texas Tech. In fact, Oregon has averaged over 80 plays per game just twice since 2003, which may be surprising to most fans considering the number of points put up by the Ducks over the years. Conference USA is right behind them, with 14 teams averaging 80 plays per game in a season since 2003.
The Big Ten and SEC have each had just two schools average 80 plays per game in a season since 2003. Northwestern did so twice to account for both Big Ten instances, while Texas A&M hit that mark in their first year in the SEC after moving from the Big 12. Both the SEC and Big Ten have had a way with sticking to older styles of football play, relying on strong running games and defenses to lead the way. That has been a strong winning formula for the SEC over the better half of this time span, although the Big Ten has shown signs of struggling against these types of offensive styles when put under the spotlight.
Is more better? That depends on who you ask. None of the BCS champions since 2003 averaged over 80 yards per game. Only one Big 12 champion passed that mark (2010 Oklahoma). No Pac 12 champion has done it. The same can be said about the ACC, SEC and Big Ten. Adapting this type of offensive philosophy can help accelerate a program’s turnaround, but ultimately it appears the evidence suggests becoming a more well-rounded program has a better shot of achieving a higher level of success.
At least for now.
Schools with 80 plays per game in a season since 2003, year-by-year
2003: Texas Tech, Oregon State, Cincinnati, Washington, Bowling Green, Houston, UConn
2004: Boise State, Arizona State, Eastern Michigan, Texas Tech
2005: Missouri, Oregon State, Northwestern, Arizona State, Nevada, Notre Dame, BYU
2006: New Mexico State
2007: Troy, Houston, Tulsa, Missouri, North Texas, Kentucky, Oregon, Memphis, Louisiana Tech, TCU
2009: Houston, Texas A&M, Northwestern
2010: Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Southern Mississippi
2011: Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Nevada, Baylor, Texas A&M, LA Monroe, Iowa State
2012: Marshall, LA Tech, Clemson, Nevada, Baylor, Tulsa, Houston, Texas A&M, NC State, Arizona, Oregon, Troy, UCLA, Arizona State, Rice, Ball State, Fresno State, Syracuse
2013: Texas Tech, BYU, California, Fresno State, Baylor, Virginia, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, SMU, NC State, ECU, Clemson, Arizona State, Boise State, Washington, Idaho, San Jose State, Washington State, Marshall
Total Teams Averaging 80 Plays Per Game Since 2003, By Conference
- Big 12 (15)
Pac 12 (15)
- Conference USA (14)
- Mountain West (9)
- ACC (5)
Sun Belt (5)
- WAC (4)
- MAC (3)
- AAC/Big East (2)
Big Ten (2)
Data provided by TeamRankings.com.