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30 Big 12 & Pac 12 teams have averaged 80 plays per game in a season since 2003

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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

2008: Tulsa

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

  1. Big 12 (15)
    Pac 12 (15)
  2. Conference USA (14)
  3. Mountain West (9)
  4. ACC (5)
    Sun Belt (5)
  5. WAC (4)
  6. MAC (3)
  7. AAC/Big East (2)
    Big Ten (2)
    SEC (2)

Data provided by TeamRankings.com.

Duke’s DeVon Edwards out for season with torn ACL, MCL

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 1: DeVon Edwards #27 of the Duke Blue Devils returns a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the game against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field on November 1, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Duke defeated Pittsburgh 51-48 in double overtime. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Duke may have beat Notre Dame over the weekend, but it lost one of its very best players for the season in the process.

Redshirt senior safety and kick returner DeVon Edwards suffered a torn ACL and torn MCL in his left leg Saturday, an injury that will end his college career.

In 44 games for the Blue Devils, Edwards returned six kicks for touchdowns and totaled 327 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 10 1/2 sacks, five interceptions, six forced fumbles, 21 pass breakups and eight quarterback pressures. Edwards also ran track for Duke in 2014 and 2015.

Duke has reached a bowl game every year since 2012, and will have to make it five in a row now without Edwards as well as quarterback Thomas Sirk, who’s out for the season due to a torn Achilles’.

On the bright side for Duke, running back Shaun Wilson picked up where Edwards left off and returned a kick 96 yards for a touchdown against Notre Dame.

Local Auburn man arrested after setting Toomer’s Corner oak tree on fire

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 10: Fans of the Auburn Tigers roll trees at Toomer's Corner after defeating the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Jordan Hare Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Auburn, Alabama. The Auburn Tigers defeated the Arkansas State Red Wolves 51-14.(Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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Police have identified and arrested a 29-year-old Auburn, Ala. man after he allegedly set fire to one of the oak trees at the famous Toomer’s Corner.

Fans traditionally celebrate a Tigers victory by “rolling” the trees with toilet paper and did so once again on Saturday night following an 18-13 victory over LSU. However, video surveillance showed a suspect lighting some of the paper on fire, setting the tree ablaze as he walked away.

The Auburn city police department, in a release obtained by USA Today, stated that “witnesses at Toomer’s Corner identified a suspect, who was immediately detained and taken into custody by police on an unrelated charge of public intoxication.” Several reports identified the suspect as Jochen Wiest.

Firefighters quickly responded to the fire and extinguished the burning tree but university officials are still evaluating the damage to the oaks.

“From the ground we can easily see damage to the leaves and base of the tree. It is significant,” Professor of Horticulture Gary Keever said in a statement released by the school. “I expect the foliage will continue to drop. The full extent of damage may not be known for several weeks. The best case scenario would be to see a flush of new growth next spring, but right now it’s too early to tell how the tree will respond.”

The incident is all the more emotional for Auburn fans given that the tradition had just been revived this season following a three-year absence as a result of an Alabama fan poisoning the oaks. Hopefully the area around Toomer’s Corner can recover in time for the Tigers’ next win, which might be as soon as Saturday when they host Louisiana-Monroe.

Notre Dame officially parts ways with defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder

FILE - In an Aug. 29, 2014 file photo, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, right, talks with defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder during practice during media day for a NCAA football team in South Bend, Ind. It was announced Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, that Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has fired defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder following a 1-3 start. The school tweeted a new release saying VanGorder is being replaced by defensive analyst Greg Hudson.(AP Photo/Joe Raymond, File)
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Notre Dame has officially parted ways with embattled defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder.

“This is a difficult decision,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. “I have the utmost respect for Brian as both a person and football coach, but our defense simply isn’t where it should be and I believe this change is necessary for the best interest of our program and our student-athletes.”

Notre Dame has allowed 134 points through their first four games and are just 1-3 after extremely high preseason expectations. This was VanGorder’s third season in South Bend but the Irish have regressed significantly and ranked 101st in FBS scoring defense after Saturday’s home loss to Duke.

Defensive analyst Greg Hudson, a former Notre Dame linebacker who has served as defensive coordinator at Purdue, East Carolina and Minnesota, was elevated to fill VanGorder’s role.

“It’s never easy to make a change on your staff, but I’m confident in Greg’s ability to lead our defense,” Kelly added. “As a former player at Notre Dame and an experienced defensive coordinator, he not only understands the expectations necessary to compete at the highest level, but he’ll bring a fresh perspective to our sideline, practice field and meeting rooms.”

The move to make staff changes on the defensive side of the ball isn’t exactly surprising to Irish fans who have seen the team play this year but the timing is notable. Kelly remarked that the coaching was not the problem on defense after the loss to the Blue Devils but still opted to make a change on Sunday. It will be interesting to see if a very young defense will respond, and perhaps even rally, now that a big message has been sent.

Notre Dame plays Syracuse on Saturday at noon ET.

Florida International fires head coach Ron Turner after 10-30 run

HADLEY, MA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Head coach Ron Turner of the FIU Golden Panthers looks on during the game against the Massachusetts Minutemen at Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Hadley, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
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The firing season in college football is getting started earlier and earlier. Just ask Ron Turner.

The Florida International head coach was fired early Sunday in a move that was hardly surprising aside from its timing.

“I want to thank Coach Turner for his contributions to the FIU football program, most importantly his commitment to academics and community service,” athletic director Pete Garcia said in a short statement. “At this time Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Ron Cooper has been named interim head coach.”

Turner went 10-30 over four years at the school but was 0-4 to begin the season after a 53-14 loss to Central Florida last week. While he is far from the first coach fired in 2016, Turner did become the first head coach to be fired after the season got underway.

Cooper had a 45–55 record in nine seasons as a head coach at Eastern Michigan, Louisville and Alabama A&M. He was elevated to FIU’s defensive coordinator prior to the season and notably served as LSU’s defensive backs coach when Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu starred in Baton Rouge.

The Panthers are set to play local rival Florida Atlantic on Saturday.