One of the best parts about college football is the variety. You've got a veritable buffet of options on how you liked your pigskin served to you on Saturdays.
Oregon dresses—and moves—like a radioactive comic book character most weeks and is celebrated for it. Alabama hits hard in helmets with numbers on the side. USC has enough swagger to make up for the country's second-largest city not having an NFL franchise. Boise makes an entire state relevant sports-wise with their blue turf, trick plays and Oklahoma-beating bowl wins.
While the NFL may have a few tweaks here and there (sarcastic comment about The Wildcat goes here), you've still got 32 teams of salary-capped parity with "pro-style" quarterbacks in league-branded hats. It's more uniform, regimented, similar. It has to be.
But not in college. This is the land of "Gangnam Style" halftime shows from bands and uniforms that are just as crazy as, well, Gangnam Style. And as such, with the players involved, teams can scheme differently as well.
Spreads, options, Denard Robinsons—all come into play at this level. While everyone is a bit different, some do "different" way better than others. Here are five teams whose offenses are different to the core.
Look up a preview story for any team playing Navy and there's a good chance the headline and first few paragraphs will be about stopping this squad's famous (or infamous), triple option offense.
Even in lean years, like this one, the Midshipmen have made a name for themselves—and this headache-giving scheme—with sprinkles of success over the years.
College as a whole (and football by relation) is wayyy different at a service academy—no athletic scholarships, commitment of military service upon graduation, no frat parties. It affects recruiting, though a system like this can take advantage of athletic players and even pull monster upsets every once in awhile.
We're not going to go through X's and O's here; this can be summed up simply with one word—power.
While speeds and spreads are reigning supreme right now, these two teams, seemingly more than any other team, decided they'd rather punch you in the gut.
And it works. Ask USC this year, or anybody unlucky enough to see Alabama on their schedule. The latter team's defense may steal top-billing, but the offense that's brewing down in Tuscaloosa is one reason it seems the Crimson Tide will all but surf to a BCS title this year.
ULM made itself a household name for casual college football fans when they kick-started Arkansas' season of misery with a shocking win in overtime against the then No. 8 team in the nation.
For the sake of this piece, though, we're going to examine something you may have missed from the Warhawks' shootout loss to Baylor this last weekend. Something that I want to try immediately on XBox.
Two quarterbacks. (Though it's "not your father's two-quarterback system", as smartfootball.com points out.) Though they fell 47-42 (against a Big 12 team, remember) examples like you see above are why you should never take the Warhawks easily.
We go from talking about a team with a two-quarterback system to one with, essentially, a no-quarterback system.
And while Michigan fans may hate me for this, the fact of the matter is, it's true. Denard Robinson isn't a passer...he's not a pure passer, he's certainly not a pocket passer, and all it takes is two sets of eyes (or a stat sheet that shows four interceptions against Notre Dame) to know he's not a good passer.
Yet Michigan won a BCS Bowl last year with him at the helm, and Robinson is a threat to score on almost every snap. While we've seen athletic quarterbacks who just seem to make big plays despite suspect passing skills before (I'm not even going to utter the "T" word here), Robinson just seems to be on another level with this disparity.
Regardless of your thoughts on him or his level of hype, you can't deny there's something intriguing about him—and Michigan's offense—that is different to the core because he's taking snaps.
Even if Oregon wore the most boring uniforms on the planet, they'd still be a buzzy topic across college football because of just how dang fast they are. It's ridiculous. Incomparable to anybody else. No equal anywhere.
SEC powerhouses may have a better mixture of speed and size (it's why the conference is an NFL factory), but the speed with which Oregon's no-huddle-spread-tastic-weird-play-calling-Indy-500 offense is executed is not only a spectacle to see (I watched in awe from Autzen a couple weeks ago), but it's as different as different can be.