Pace was one of the hot button issues in the 2008 college football season. Oklahoma’s highly publicized switch to a fast paced offense in reaction to the new clock rules was the major reason for it. The Sooners ended up leading the country in plays at 1,106 (79 per game), and they set a record with 716 total points scored.
The Sooners weren’t the only team to crank it up. Tulsa, under no-huddle guru Gus Malzahn, was second in plays behind OU, and Houston, TCU, and Nevada also broke 1,000 plays for the season.
The average number of plays per team for the whole season was 858.52. The average number of games played was 12.68. Therefore, the average number of plays per game for any given team was 67.7.
But what if everyone played at Oklahoma’s pace? Here is a look at what the top ten yardage gainers would look like if everyone ran 79 offensive plays a game.
|Team||Total Yds||Yds/Game||Yds/Play||Adj. Total Yds||Adj. Yds/Game|
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane tops the list at an incredible 8,043 yards for the season. The all-time record, if you’re wondering, was 7,826 set by 2006 Hawai’i before Tulsa broke it with its actual 7,978 yards in 2008. However, the per-game record of 624.9 set by 1989 Houston is still safe in theory as well in actuality.
The appearance of two SEC teams on this list while not appearing on the actual list shows that run-first, slower paced conferences can still produce some efficient offenses. That fact was lost on a lot of people when picking the national title game, as many saw Oklahoma as clearly the better offensive team. The Sooners were definitely more prolific, but we can see here that the Gators were more efficient.
Everyone on this list averaged more than 524 yards a game at Oklahoma’s pace. In real life, only four teams averaged that much: Tulsa, Houston, Texas Tech, and OU. Only one other team, Nevada, averaged more than 500 real yards a game.
The presence of Georgia, Ball State, and USC also show that pro-style offenses can be highly efficient just like the spread offenses that are all the rage. You likely won’t hit Gus Malzahn-like pinball numbers, but there is something to be said for doing it the old fashioned way. It still gets the job done.
I don’t know if we can really learn much from this, but it’s still fun to look at and think about how close Tulsa was to getting to eight grand. Malzahn may have left Tulsa for Auburn, but Oklahoma returns a lot of tools from its team last season. What do you say, Bob Stoops and Kevin Wilson? Why not make a run at 8,000 yards next year?