News & Analysis

College Football: Highest-graded offenses entering Week 6

The first third of the college football season is already in the books and some offenses have really started to stand out. Using the wealth of PFF data, we take a look at the country's top offenses utilizing expected points added per play on offense to showcase the nation's best offensive units.

1. Oklahoma Sooners

It's no surprise to anyone who's seen a Sooner game this year, this offense is dynamic and truly has been since head coach Lincoln Riley took over. The Sooners are averaging a national-best .740 EPA per play and have done so by completing 74.8% of their attempts as a team and averaging 13.5 yards per attempt, also a national best for qualified offenses. Jalen Hurts leads the team, obviously, as he's not only in line for a Heisman that would be the school's third in a row, but he's also got to start getting some teams interested in perhaps what he can do at the next level.

2. Alabama Crimson Tide

No offense is loaded at the wide receiver position quite like the Crimson Tide are. They field multiple WR1-capable players with Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle as each of the first three guys on that list have had their time to shine on the national stage. Of their passing yards as a team, 64.2% of them have come after the catch as these dynamic playmakers have done a majority of the damage for Alabama this season and shown off their skills as highly-thought-of draft-eligible prospects in the meantime,

3. LSU Tigers

The Tigers are led by our Heisman favorite through five weeks, Joe Burrow, as the former Ohio State quarterback has taken the LSU offense to new heights in his second year with the program. They're generating a positive EPA on a national-high 63.3% of their passing plays and Burrow is a big reason for that. He's currently the nation's highest-graded quarterback both overall and in passing grade as he's found his receivers in spots where only they can make plays more often than not and his 10 big-time throws are among the best in the country.

4. Ohio State Buckeyes

Gone is Dwayne Haskins and J.T. Barrett and in is a new-found offense in Columbus, led by head coach Ryan Day and QB Justin Fields. Demonstrating a downfield passing ability that we didn't get to see during his 173 snaps at Georgia a season ago, Fields has been dominant throwing the ball down the field and unlike the aforementioned Crimson Tide, is doing the majority of his damage through the air and not after the catch. In fact, as a team, OSU has had 76.3% of their passing yards come through the air, the top figure among qualified offenses in the country.

5. Penn State Nittany Lions

A 59-point game in their last outing, the Penn State offense is firing on all cylinders as they get more into Big Ten play. Led by Sean Clifford, KJ Hamler and a running back by committee approach, the Nittany Lions have limited mistakes like few other teams have this season. Currently, they're the only team without a turnover-worthy pass to their credit and are generating positive EPA on over half of their passing snaps. Clifford has been subject to drops from his receivers but when they are firing, they're as fun an offense to watch as any.

6. Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns

Who? You may be asking that very question but we are here to tell you, the Ragin' Cajuns are as exciting and efficient on offense as the Washington State Cougars. You read that right. While Washington State has dropped back to pass a whopping 267 times, Louisiana has run the ball 205 times and gained the nation's most rushing yards as a team at 1,568. They're the only team to gain over 1,000 yards after contact, currently at 1,073, while no other team has more than 900. They've combined to break 81 tackles and are breaking them at an absurd rate of 40.0% of their carries as a team. At 40.0% rushing conversion percentage, both of those numbers not only lead the country, but they're also topping the country by some margin.

6. Washington State Cougars

If the Ragin' Cajuns get it done on the ground, the Cougars have got it done through the air, obviously. Washington State has dropped back to pass 267 times, attempted 249 passes, completed 179 attempts for 2,240 yards and 24 touchdowns – all of the aforementioned numbers leading the country. Anthony Gordon isn't quite as accurate as Gardner Minshew was a season ago but he's still throwing a catchable pass on nearly 80.0% of his attempts and the Cougars have uncorked 13 big-time throws as a team, also tying for the national lead in that. They gain positive EPA on 55.8% of their passing plays, the 11th-best rate, which is staggering based upon the amount of passes they have.

8. UCF Knights

Dillon Gabriel has been a revelation for the Knights after the quarterback situation looked shaky without McKenzie Milton. Gabriel has exceeded expectations and as a team, the Knights are averaging .373 EPA per play as Gabriel himself has seen 10 big-time throws through his brief tenure to date. They also have a rare combination of speedsters out of the backfield, generating positive EPA on over half their rushing attempts, something only 31 teams can say this far into the season.

9. Georgia Bulldogs

The Bulldogs are a talented team from top to bottom on offense but are led by perhaps one of the country's best offensive lines. Andrew Thomas is about as stout an offensive tackle that we've seen in years, anchoring the blindside for Jake Fromm with elite-level success. Fromm and the passing attack for the Bulldogs have not lit the world alight with gaudy statistics but their 58.0% passing success rate is the eighth-best figure in the country.

10. Appalachian State Mountaineers

Making waves with their upset victory over UNC, the Mountaineers are 4-0 and have a very strong chance at finishing the season undefeated if they keep up their offensive efficiency. A big game looms against Louisiana that should not only tell if this App State team has enough on defense to stop the Ragin' Cajuns on the ground and if they do, they can also rely on an incredibly balanced attack on both the ground and through the air. They currently rank 17th in offensive success rate (53.1%) on passes and 27th on the ground in the same metric (50.7%).

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