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Ranking College Football's Top 25 Offenses of 2012

Danny FlynnSenior Analyst IJanuary 7, 2017

Ranking College Football's Top 25 Offenses of 2012

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    One of the biggest storylines of the 2012 college football regular season was the unprecedented offensive production that we witnessed. This year, we saw teams from around the country put up insane offensive numbers on a weekly basis. 

    There were 12 teams that averaged more than 40 points per game and the same number of teams averaged more than 500 yards per game, which is the most in college football history. 

    This season was truly a year where offense ruled. 

    Here's a look at college football's top-25 offenses of 2012. 

25. Louisville Cardinals

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    After watching Teddy Bridgewater show plenty of glimpses of his enormous potential as a true freshman in 2011, Louisville fans were eager to see what the highly touted quarterback could do this season. 

    Bridgewater certainly didn't disappoint. The sophomore signal-caller completed 69 percent of his passes for more than 3,400 yards and 25 touchdowns, as he led the Cardinals to 10 wins, a Big East championship and a berth in the Sugar Bowl. 

    Not only did Louisville get great play from its quarterback, the Cardinals also had two running backs, Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright, who rushed for more than 700 yards, as well as five players who caught at least 30 passes in 2012. 

    The team finished the regular season tied for first in the Big East in scoring offense, averaging 31 points per game. 

24. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

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    Georgia Tech has become well-known for its powerful rushing attack during Paul Johnson's tenure as head coach.

    This year, the Yellow Jackets once again had one of the most productive ground games in the country.

    They finished the regular season ranked fourth in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 312 yards per game, and they also tied for first in the nation with 47 rushing touchdowns. 

    The team had three players, Orwin Smith, Tevin Washington and Zach Laskey, who rushed for more than 600 yards. 

    The offense ended up totaling more than 400 yards of offense on 10 occasions in 2012. Of course, the most memorable performance was a 68-50 win over North Carolina, in which Georgia Tech averaged a whopping 7.4 yards per play. 

23. Arkansas State Red Wolves

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    Gus Malzahn spent just one season at Arkansas State before heading back to Auburn to replace Gene Chizik as head coach. Still, Malzahn's effect on the team's offense in 2012 was quite evident. 

    The Red Wolves finished the regular season ranked first in the Sun Belt in scoring offense and rushing offense and second in total offense, averaging 36 points and 481 yards per game. 

    The star of the unit was QB Ryan Aplin, who threw for more than 3,100 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also rushed for 443 yards and six touchdowns. 

    Aplin's top target was WR J.D. McKissic, who ranked second in the conference with 92 catches. 

    RB David Oku also played a critical role, finishing with more than 1,000 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. 

22. Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez developed into a legitimate dual-threat quarterback in 2012. Not only did he have his most productive season as a rusher, running for 973 yards and 10 touchdowns, he also showed that he could be a consistent and reliable passer as well. 

    The highly athletic junior signal-caller completed 62 percent of his passes for more than 2,600 yards and 26 touchdowns.

    The Cornhuskers were able to overcome the loss of star running back Rex Burkhead, who played in just seven games due to a nagging knee injury, thanks in large part to the emergence of sophomore back Ameer Abdullah. 

    Abdullah finished sixth in the Big Ten with 1,089 rushing yards. He also caught 24 passes and scored 10 touchdowns. 

    Receivers Kenny Bell and Quincy Enunwa also played key roles. They combined to catch 86 passes for 1,262 yards and nine touchdowns. 

21. San Jose State Spartans

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    San Jose State QB David Fales was one of college football's true hidden gems of 2012. In his first year after transferring from Monterey Peninsula College, Fales immediately became one of the top passers in the sport.

    The junior signal-caller finished with a 72-percent completion percentage, which was the highest in the country. He also finished with 3,798 passing yards, an extremely impressive 31-9 touchdown to interception ratio and a 170 passer rating, which ranked third among all quarterbacks in college football. 

    Fales was helped out by RB De'Leon Eskridge, who ran for 992 yards and 10 touchdowns, as well as his key receiving targets Noel Grigsby, Chandler Jones and TE Ryan Otten, who combined to catch 165 passes for 23 touchdowns.

    The high-powered offensive attack was the main reason the Spartans were able to put together a surprising 10-win season and earn a berth in the school's second bowl game since 1990.

20. UCLA Bruins

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    First-year UCLA coach Jim Mora decided to shake up the offense a bit when he named unproven redshirt freshman Brett Hundley to be his starting quarterback. Ultimately, though, it turned out to be a move that made Mora look like a genius. 

    Hundley became one of the biggest breakout stars in the Pac-12. The exciting dual-threat quarterback threw for more than 3,400 yards and 26 touchdowns and added another 365 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. 

    RB Johnathan Franklin also had a huge season. The senior back finished the regular season ranked second in the conference with 1,700 rushing yards. He also scored 15 touchdowns. 

    The dynamic backfield duo was a big reason why UCLA was able to rise up and win the Pac-12 South.

19. Fresno State Bulldogs

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    It would be tough to find a more underrated quarterback-running back tandem than Fresno State's highly productive duo of Derek Carr and Robbie Rouse. 

    They were the main keys to the Bulldogs' huge turnaround, which saw them go from nine losses last season to nine wins this year. 

    Both players shined in new coach Tim DeRuyter's offensive system. Carr completed 68 percent of his passes for more than 3,700 yards and threw 36 touchdowns compared to five interceptions. Rouse rushed for more than 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns. 

    WR Davante Adams also looked like a perfect fit for DeRuyter's offense. He was the most productive freshman receiver in the country, catching 89 passes for 1,168 yards and 13 touchdowns. 

    The Bulldogs finished the regular season ranked first in the Mountain West in scoring offense and passing offense and second in total offense, averaging 40 points and 488 yards per game. 

18. USC Trojans

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    USC didn't come close to meeting sky-high preseason expectations. But the Trojans' five losses had more to do with the team's lackluster defense than it did the offense. 

    QB Matt Barkley and his deadly receiver duo of Marqise Lee and Robert Woods all had solid seasons in 2012. 

    Barkley was one of the most efficient passers in the country, completing 63 percent of his passes for more than 3,200 yards and 36 touchdowns. 

    His favorite receiving target, Lee, developed into an elite playmaker in his sophomore season, leading the nation with 112 catches for 1,680 yards. 

    The explosive USC offense finished the regular season ranked seventh nationally with an average of 6.8 yards per play. 

17. North Carolina Tar Heels

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    North Carolina RB Giovani Bernard didn't receive the type of national recognition he deserved in 2012. That certainly doesn't mean, however, that he wasn't worthy of praise for his tremendous performance. 

    Bernard finished the season ranked first in the country with an average of 171 yards from scrimmage per game, and he ranked 11th nationally with 19 touchdowns. 

    The explosive big-play threat was clearly the Tar Heels' most dangerous offensive weapon. But the team also got a big season out of QB Bryn Renner, who threw for more than 3,300 yards and 28 touchdowns. 

    Renner and Bernard helped North Carolina average 40 points and 485 yards per game. 

16. Georgia Bulldogs

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    Before the season started, Georgia had to deal with the loss of Isaiah Crowell, last year's leading rusher, who was dismissed from the team in June after being arrested.

    Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they just so happened to have two of the best freshman running backs in the country, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, to replace Crowell. 

    Gurley and Marshall looked like seasoned veterans in their first season at the college level. They combined to rush for 1,983 yards and 24 touchdowns. 

    Georgia also got another huge season out of quarterback Aaron Murray, who completed 65 percent of his passes for more than 3,400 yards. His touchdown-to-interception ratio was a superb 31-8.

    The Bulldogs finished the regular season ranked fourth in the nation with an average of 6.9 yards per play and 18th nationally in scoring, averaging 37 points per game. 

15. Texas Tech Red Raiders

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    The Big 12 featured some of the premier passing offenses in college football, which makes the fact that Texas Tech had the most productive passing offense in the conference even more impressive. The Red Raiders averaged 362 passing yards per game.

    QB Seth Doege was one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the country. Doege completed 70 percent of his passes for more than 3,900 yards and 38 touchdowns. 

    The senior signal-caller's favorite targets were Eric Ward and Darrin Moore, who combined to catch 156 passes for more than 1,900 yards and 24 touchdowns. 

14. Northern Illinois Huskies

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    After posting a 12-1 record, Northern Illinois became the first MAC team to earn a BCS bowl bid.

    The Huskies relied on their high-powered offensive attack, led by dynamic dual-threat quarterback Jordan Lynch, to storm through the conference and into the Orange Bowl. 

    Lynch was the most productive player in all of college football. The junior signal-caller finished the regular season ranked first in the nation in total offense after accumulating 4,733 total yards, including 1,771 yards on the ground, the most by any quarterback. 

    The team finished ranked ninth in the country in scoring offense and 15th in total offense, averaging 40 points and 485 yards per game. 

    It will be interesting to see how the underdog Huskies will fare against a stingy Florida State defense in Miami Gardens on New Year's Day. 

13. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Ohio State fans had high hopes for the 2012 season, following the arrival of head coach Urban Meyer.

    Meyer instantly made a huge impact on the Buckeyes' offense. He implemented his unique spread system and helped turn sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller into a true national star. 

    Miller proved to be a perfect fit for the new offense. The former 5-star recruit totaled 3,310 yards of offense and accounted for 28 touchdowns, as he led Ohio State to a 12-0 regular season. 

    The Buckeyes finished the season ranked first in the Big Ten in scoring, second in rushing and third in total offense, averaging 37 points and 423 yards per game. 

12. Florida State Seminoles

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    It was tough to tell just how good Florida State's offense was this season, considering the Seminoles' schedule wasn't exactly loaded with top-notch defenses. However, it was clear that the unit featured exceptional talent at the skill positions. 

    QB EJ Manuel had an outstanding senior season. He completed 68 percent of his passes for more than  3,100 yards and 22 touchdowns, and he also rushed for 284 yards and three touchdowns. 

    Florida State's top three running backs, Chris Thompson, Devonta Freeman and James Wilder, combined to rush for 1,900 yards and 26 touchdowns. The team also had six players catch at least 20 passes. 

    The Seminoles only averaged 70.1 plays per game in the regular season, ranking them 84th in the FBS. But they were very effective when they did have the ball, averaging nearly seven yards per play. 

11. Oklahoma Sooners

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    Despite having to replace WR Ryan Broyles, the most productive receiver in college football history. Oklahoma still featured one of the most impressive passing attacks in the country. 

    Led by strong-armed senior quarterback Landry Jones, Oklahoma ranked fifth in the nation in passing offense, averaging 341 yards per game. Jones formed a successful passing partnership with his new No. 1 receiver Kenny Stills, who had the best season of his career, catching 75 passes for 897 yards and 11 touchdowns. 

    The Sooners also got a big year from breakout star running back Damien Williams, who finished third in the Big 12 with 905 rushing yards. 

    Oklahoma finished the regular season ranked 10th in the country in total offense and tied for 12th in scoring offense, averaging 40 points and 506 yards per game. 

10. Arizona Wildcats

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    Before the season started, many wondered how Rich Rodriguez would fare in his first season in Arizona after a disastrous three-year tenure at Michigan. Rodriguez answered his critics, turning the Wildcats' offense into one of the most high-powered attacks in the country. 

    Arizona finished the season ranked second in the Pac-12 behind Oregon in scoring offense, rushing offense and total offense, averaging 37 points and 521 yards per game. 

    The team's biggest offensive stars were QB Matt Scott and RB Ka'Deem Carey, who both turned out to be perfect fits for Rodriguez's offensive system. 

    Scott threw for more than 3,200 yards and 24 touchdowns, and Carey was the conference's most productive back, leading the league with 1,757 rushing yards and ranking second with 21 touchdowns.

9. Kansas State Wildcats

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    Everyone knew Kansas State QB Collin Klein was a special player after his breakout campaign last season. However, Klein managed to take his game to an even higher level in 2012, as he led the Wildcats to a 11-1 record and a Big 12 championship. 

    Klein was once again one of the top offensive playmakers in the country. The big, beastly dual-threat quarterback totaled 3,390 yards of offense and accounted for 37 touchdowns. 

    The senior signal-caller was also helped by contributions from many of his skill-position players such as RB John Hubert and receivers Chris Harper, Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson. 

    Hubert rushed for 897 yards and 12 touchdowns, while the Wildcats' receiver trio of Harper, Lockett and Thompson combined to catch 126 passes. 

    Kansas State finished the regular season ranked 10th in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 40 points per game.

8. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

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    Louisiana Tech may not have been able to win the WAC, but the Bulldogs still managed to put up some eye-popping numbers in 2012. 

    Led by the dangerous trio of QB Colby Cameron, RB Kenneth Dixon and WR Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech's offense averaged 51 points and 577 yards per game and finished the season ranked No. 1 in the nation in scoring offense. 

    Cameron threw for more than 4,100 yards and 31 touchdowns. Dixon led the nation with 28 touchdowns, and Patton  boosted his NFL stock with a sensational senior campaign, catching 104 passes for 1,392 yards and 13 touchdowns. 

    It's a shame school officials screwed up the team's bowl situation. That means we won't get to see one of college football's most exciting and explosive offenses in the postseason. 

7. West Virginia Mountaineers

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    West Virginia had drastically different performances from its offensive and defensive units in 2012.

    The Mountaineers' defense was absolutely shredded this season, while the offense did plenty of shredding of its own to help balance things out. 

    QB Geno Smith and his dynamic wide-receiver duo of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey all turned out to be as good as advertised.

    Smith may have slowed down a bit after a huge showing in September. However, he still completed 71 percent of his passes, which was the second-best percentage in the country, and he was one of just four quarterbacks to throw for more than 4,000 yards. He also led the nation with 40 touchdown passes. 

    Austin and Bailey each caught more than 100 passes, and they combined to score 38 offensive touchdowns. 

    The Mountaineers finished the regular season ranked seventh nationally in scoring offense and eighth in total offense, averaging 41 points and 518 yards per game. 

6. Oklahoma State Cowboys

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    Oklahoma State had to replace two first-round NFL draft picks, QB Brandon Weeden and WR Justin Blackmon, who were the Cowboys' two most valuable players in the previous two seasons.

    Luckily, RB Joseph Randle showed that he was ready to be the focal point of the offense. He won the Big 12  rushing title, running for 1,351 yards and 14 touchdowns. 

    Because of injuries, the Cowboys were forced to start three quarterbacks, Wes Lunt, J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf. But all of them turned in strong performances when called upon. 

    They were aided by the emergence of WR Josh Stewart and TE Blake Jackson, who combined to catch 123 passes for 1,719 yards. 

    The Cowboys finished the regular season ranked fourth in the nation in scoring offense, fifth in total offense and seventh in passing offense, averaging 44 points and 548 yards per game. 

5. Baylor Bears

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    Baylor may have lost Heisman-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III and WR Kendall Wright, the school's all-time leading receiver. But somehow, the Bears still managed to have one of the most powerful offensive attacks in the country. 

    QB Nick Florence assumed the starting role and turned out to be a worthy replacement for RG3. The senior signal-caller certainly wasn't the same caliber of runner as his predecessor, but he threw for more than 4,100 yards and 31 touchdowns. 

    Florence's favorite receiving target was WR Terrance Williams, who showed NFL scouts that he has the skills to be a potential first-round pick just like his former teammate Wright. Williams finished the regular season with 95 catches for 1,764 yards and 12 touchdowns. 

    The Bears go into the postseason ranked first in the nation in total offense, third in passing offense and fifth in scoring offense, averaging 44 points and 578 yards per game. 

4. Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Last season, Alabama rode its dominant defense to a national championship. This year, though, the Tide's offense was the main reason the team was able to make it back to the BCS title game. 

    Second-year starting quarterback AJ McCarron transformed from a game-manager into a true veteran leader. He helped the offense average 38 points and 439 yards per game. 

    Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon both stepped up in a big way to make up for the loss of RB Trent Richardson. The two backs each eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark and scored a combined 29 touchdowns. 

    Freshman receiver Amari Cooper looked like the second coming of Julio Jones, catching 52 passes for 894 yards and nine touchdowns. 

    Plus, the offensive line, led by future first-round NFL draft picks Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack, played up to its "best line in the nation" label. The front five routinely opened up huge holes for Lacy and Yeldon to burst through.

3. Clemson Tigers

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    Clemson entered the season with one of the most dangerous groups of offensive skill-position talent in the country. The Tigers certainly made the most of all the firepower they had. 

    QB Tajh Boyd, RB Andre Ellington, wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins and TE Brandon Ford lit up defenses all season long. 

    Boyd was one of the most productive passers in the country, throwing for more than 3,500 yards and 34 touchdowns. Ellington rushed for more than 1,000 yards for the second straight season. And Hopkins, Watkins and Ford combined to catch 157 passes, including 27 touchdown receptions. 

    The Tigers finished the regular season ranked first in the ACC in almost every major statistical offensive category, including scoring offense, passing offense and total offense. They averaged 42 points and 518 yards per game. 

2. Texas A&M Aggies

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    "New" was the big buzzword surrounding the Texas A&M football program this offseason. The Aggies went into the season with a new head coach and a new starting quarterback, and they were facing the tough challenge of having to acclimate to a new conference. 

    It didn't take long, however, for coach Kevin Sumlin and redshirt freshman signal-caller Johnny Manziel to show that they had something special in store for their first season in the SEC. 

    Sumlin managed to replicate the tremendous success he had at Houston and turn the Texas A&M offense into one of the most powerful attacks in college football. 

    Sumlin helped mold Manziel into an instant sensation. He also oversaw an Aggies offense that led the SEC in total offense, scoring offense, rushing offense and passing offense, averaging 44 points and 552 yards per game. 

    The explosive dual-threat quarterback became one of college football's biggest celebrities. He totaled 4,600 yards of offense, a new SEC record, and accounted for 43 touchdowns.

    Following his sensational breakout freshman performance, Manziel goes into Saturday's Heisman ceremony as the clear favorite to win the award. 

1. Oregon Ducks

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    Oregon's offense may have lost QB Darron Thomas and RB LaMichael James. But the Ducks didn't seem to lose any bit of explosiveness, due in large part to the three-headed backfield monster of QB Marcus Mariota and running backs Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas. 

    Mariota stepped into the starting role and turned out to be one of the top freshman performers in the country. He completed 70 percent of his passes for 2,500 yards and 30 touchdowns and also rushed for 690 yards and four touchdowns.

    The real star of the offense, however, was Barner, who flourished in his new role as the team's featured back. The speedy senior finished the regular season tied for fourth nationally with 22 touchdowns and ranked seventh with 1,624 rushing yards. 

    Thomas also proved to be a valuable weapon. The versatile playmaker rushed for 686 yards and 11 touchdowns, and he also caught 41 passes for 385 yards and four touchdowns. 

    Ultimately, Oregon's offense finished the regular season ranked second in the nation in scoring, third in rushing and fourth in total offense. The Ducks averaged an astounding 50 points and 550 yards per game.

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