Most Explosive Offenses in Each Power 5 Conference for 2017

penn state football

Matthew Jordan

Monday, July 10, 2017 5:50 PM GMT

Americans like scoring. It’s partly why hockey and soccer aren’t as popular in this country as the NBA or pro & college football. With that said, here are what I believe will be the top offensive teams in each of the Power 5 Conferences this coming NCAA season.

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ACC: Louisville Cardinals

Quarterback Lamar Jackson had one of the greatest offensive seasons in NCAA history in winning the Heisman Trophy last year for the Cardinals. He threw for 3,543 yards and 30 touchdowns while rushing for 1,571 yards and 21 scores. Louisville was fifth nationally in total yards and sixth in points at 42.5 per game. It finished 8-5 on the ‘over/under.’ Jackson is back so this unit shouldn’t miss a beat and will battle Florida State and Clemson for the ACC Atlantic Division title. The Cards are +650 at BetOnline to win ACC title game

That’s not to say Jackson & Co. can’t be slowed down. Louisville led the country in scoring for much of the year, but then the offensive line became a problem. The Cards lost their final three games, getting dominated in a 36-10 loss at Houston, falling 41-38 at home to Kentucky and then dropping a 29-9 contest to LSU in the Citrus Bowl. The Cards lost two starting guards to graduation this offseason in Kiola Mahoni and Khalil Hunter.

 

Big Ten: Penn State Nittany Lions

The Lions tied for the second-best O/U mark in the country last year at 11-3 and return the two stars of their offense in quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley, who is +1000 at BetOnline to win the Heisman Trophy. Last year, McSorley broke Penn State's single-season record for passing yards (3,614), passing touchdowns (29) and total offense (3,979) while leading the Nittany Lions to a Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl appearance.

McSorley threw four TD passes in that thrilling bowl win over USC. Barkley, who is likely going to be the first running back chosen in the 2018 NFL Draft, finished No. 5 on Penn State's single-season rushing yardage chart with 1,496 yards in 2016. His 22 overall touchdowns (18 rushing) were No. 4 in school history. His 1,927 all-purpose yards were second. Barkley rushed for 194 yards and two scores in the win over the Trojans and also caught a TD pass.

 Big 12: Oklahoma State Cowboys

One could make an argument for Oklahoma here as the Sooners return two-time Heisman finalist QB Baker Mayfield, but I believe the rival Pokes are even more potent. There may be no better QB/WR duo in the country than OSU’s Mason Rudolph and James Washington.

Both are on the Maxwell Award watch list. Rudolph threw for 4,091 yards, 28 touchdowns and a career-best 158.9 quarterback rating as a junior in 2016. Washington caught 71 passes for 1,380 and 10 touchdowns.  Don’t forget about RB Justice Hill, who rushed for 1,142 yards and six TDs. The Cowboys finished 17th nationally in points at 38.6 and were 7-6 O/U. This might be Coach Mike Gundy’s best squad ever.

 Pac-12: Washington State Cougars

Some may quibble that I don’t have Southern Cal as the Pac-12 representative on this list considering the Trojans bring back the current Heisman favorite at +425 in QB Sam Darnold, a guy whom many believe will be the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft.

USC will have a fine offense, but Wazzu was third nationally in passing last year, put up 38.2 points per game and brings back QB Luke Falk. In Coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense, Falk led the country with 633 pass attempts and completed 70 percent for 4,468 yards and 41 touchdowns. Falk has thrown for 10,888 yards in his career and could get into the Top 5 all-time with another big season. Yes, top receivers Gabe Marks and River Cracraft are gone, but four returning wideouts had at least 33 catches. Plus the Cougars’ top three rushers and three starting offensive linemen are expected back.

 

SEC: Auburn Tigers

This is the one I’m least confident about, but I’m high on transfer quarterback Jarrett Stidham. I’m presuming he’s going to win the starting job over incumbent Sean White. Stidham is probably the school’s most talented QB overall since Cam Newton in 2010 and looked great this spring. First-year coordinator Chip Lindsey has revamped the offense and will expand the passing game. Stidham, a former five-star recruit, left Baylor after throwing for 1,265 yards, 12 touchdowns and two interceptions in just three starts as a true freshman in 2015.

Auburn’s 169.6 passing yards per game were last in the SEC last year as they had essentially no vertical game. The Tigers also return two very good running backs in Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson. The schedule is really tough, though, with trips to Clemson and LSU and home games vs. Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama. Auburn put up 31.2 points per game last year and was 4-9 ATS.

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