The 5 Most Feared Offenses in College Football

Zach Shelton@@zachisagingerFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2014

The 5 Most Feared Offenses in College Football

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    Baylor QB Bryce Petty
    Baylor QB Bryce PettyJerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    There are plenty of good offenses in college football. Whether they spread you out or try to run you over, these teams know how to get the job done most every Saturday.

    Then are the teams that nobody wants to mess with any day of the week. A select group of offenses inspire fear in opposing defenses and coordinators not because they beat you—they pummel you into submission.

    Now that offensive virtuosos like Johnny Manziel have left the college game, the list of teams that arouse such fear has changed. Still, these five teams bring a level of offensive dominance to the field that is unequalled across the national landscape.

    Each of the following teams pile up points and yardage at will. What sets one apart from the other is its ability to score touchdowns from all over the field, with points per play and projected future success being the great equalizers.

No. 5: Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
    Ohio State QB Braxton MillerStreeter Lecka/Getty Images

    You can complain all you want that Ohio State's success is largely the result of a weak Big 10. You'd probably be right, but for eight games a year nobody else in that conference wants anything to do with Urban Meyer's offense.

    No matter how you slice it, the Buckeyes put on an impressive show in 2013. With Tom Herman calling the shots, they were efficient and effective in finishing among the nation's top-3 in scoring, points per play and red zone touchdown percentage.

    With Heisman Trophy candidate Braxton Miller running the show, the Buckeyes are poised to once again blow their regular-season schedule. Losing Carlos Hyde hurts, but sophomores Ezekiel Elliott and Dontre Wilson should have no issue finding room in Meyer's user-friendly running game.

    As long as ace line coach Ed Warriner can replace his four departed starters up front, this unit will continue to bowl over the competition. And if Miller can sharpen up as a passer, a second undefeated season in the three years is well within Meyer's reach.

No. 4: Oregon Ducks

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    Oregon QB Marcus Mariota
    Oregon QB Marcus MariotaMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Every year the Oregon Ducks' lightning-fast spread offense makes them a contender for the national title. Is this the group that finally breaks through?

    The Ducks return nine starters, including Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Mariota, to an offense that scored 45.5 points per game, good enough for their fourth-consecutive season among the nation's top-5

    Oregon continues to pile up the numbers because it gets athletes in space better than anyone in the country. Primarily a running team, the Ducks had four different players carry the ball over 95 times last season, and each averaged at least 6 yards per carry. Even more astounding is that only Mariota, because of sack yardage, lost more than 41 yards on the whole season.

    Whether you are a traditional back like Byron Marshall or a positionless, all-purpose wonder like De'Anthony Thomas, you are going to get the ball with a chance to score.

    For all that success, the Ducks have been unable to capture that elusive championship. As Stanford has shown, the Ducks can be stymied with physical play up front and don't play well from behind.

    They will put up monster numbers again in 2014, but unless Mariota can take the next step as a passer, the Ducks' fearsome offense is prone to falling short yet again.


No. 3: Baylor Bears

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    Baylor head coach Art Briles
    Baylor head coach Art BrilesMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    By now, you know the story on Art Briles and the Baylor offense. The Bears spread you out 53-yards wide, attack you deep and fire their running backs through holes wide enough for an 18-wheeler.

    What's scary about these concepts is that it doesn't really matter who is running them. Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy in 2011 by throwing for 4,293 yards and 37 touchdowns with another 699 on the ground. Griffin's successors, Nick Florence and Bryce Petty, have combined to average 4,254.5 yards, 32.5 scores and 388.5 rushing yards in the two years since he left.

    The same notion of interchangeable parts is just as evident at Baylor's skill positions. Tailbacks Terrance Ganaway and Lache Seastrunk have each cruised to 1,000-yard seasons, while Shock Linwood averaged 6.9 yards per carry in the Seastrunk's relief in 2013. The same goes for 1,000-yard receivers Kendall Wright, Terrance Williams and Antwan Goodley.

    This all without even a single top-25 recruiting class in the Briles era, per rankings. The big-time recruits will come, and when they do there will be no stopping this modern juggernaut.

No. 2: Auburn Tigers

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    Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn
    Auburn head coach Gus MalzahnMatthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    In 2013, Oregon and Baylor each scored more points, piled up more yardage and averaged more points per play than fellow hurry-up spread squad Auburn. Don't let those numbers fool you, because both the Ducks and Bears are far more manageable than Gus Malzahn's Tigers.

    Though not at the top of any category, the Tigers were an elite offense by every conceivable metric. They were 11th in scoring, seventh in total yards, 18th in long scrimmage plays and seventh in points per play. Malzahn's offense was also 13th in red-zone touchdown percentage, whereas Baylor and Oregon both finished outside the top-30.

    Mind you, this is all in the SEC, which Auburn has won twice with Malzahn calling the plays. Oregon has averaged 23 points in its last two games against SEC opponents—both losses—and Baylor was crushed by the one elite defense it played all last season.

    Let's put it this way. When Nick Saban, a four-time national champion, is crying to the rules committee because his defense can't handle what you're doing, it's safe to say you're keeping other coaches up at night too.

No. 1: Florida State Seminoles

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    Florida State QB Jameis Winston
    Florida State QB Jameis WinstonKirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Florida State doesn't go up-tempo or spread you out like many of the nation's other top offenses. The Seminoles are just better than you and there's nothing you can do about it.

    The 'Noles were top-5 in yards, pointslong scrimmage playsred-zone touchdown percentage and points per play. The latter statistic illustrates their sheer dominance, with their .749 per play mark being .15 points better than runner-up Baylor.

    Florida State just executes, and it does so with elite talent. This season should be no different.

    Jimbo Fisher gets seven of his starters back that piled up those impressive numbers, including Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. Sure, the reigning champs lose key contributors Kelvin Benjamin and Devonta Freeman, but Kermit Whitfield and Karlos Williams are set to pick up the slack.

    With Winston a year wiser, a veteran line and a host of other elite talent, it wouldn't be a stretch for Florida State to be an even better offensive team en route to the College Football Playoff.