The past four days I’ve posted topics on how pace affected football in 2008. The primary impetus for doing the series was to put Oklahoma and Tulsa in their proper historical context.
Oklahoma scored the most points ever in a season, and Tulsa gained the most total yards ever in a season. When two records like that fall in the same season, especially one where a clock rule change reduced plays per game and scoring from the old rules, it’s worth taking a look to see why that might have happened.
The easiest answer is that both OU and Tulsa played in 14 games. The twelfth game added to the schedule earlier this decade, when combined with conference championship games and bowls stats counting towards season totals, basically meant that it was a matter of time before some of these records fell. Anything set back when the season had only 11 games and bowl stats didn’t count towards season stats was doomed.
The extra game doesn’t tell the whole story, though. Each of these records, both points scored and yards gained, were set by 2006 Hawai’i. That team played 14 games, and that season’s clock rules lowered plays per game and scoring even more than 2008’s clock rules did. The extra game helped OU and Tulsa pass most teams, but it was not the deciding factor in breaking the records.
That is where playing at a faster pace comes in.
There are distinct advantages to running a hurry-up offense full-time beyond just getting more opportunities to score. When you go at a faster pace, you can disrupt the defense and gain an advantage. The defense may not be set every time and it will not be able to substitute as often. Plus, your team is better conditioned to play at the faster pace than a team that doesn’t, so you can tire out the other side too.