Publish Date: 05/28/2021
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa
16). 1980 BYU Cougars
BYU put its best overall team on the field in 1983, but Jim McMahon led its best offense three years earlier. The Cougars lost their season opener and went on to win every game after that. Culminating with a McMahon hail mary to beat SMU in the 1980 Holiday bowl 46-45.
With Glenn “Mr. Outside” Davis and Doc “Mr. Inside” Blanchard, Army was unstoppable for most of three seasons (1944-46). The two combined to score 97 touchdowns, a duo record that stood until broken by Reggie Bush and LenDale White 60 years after they set it! In 1945, Blanchard won the Heisman. In 1946, Davis won the Heisman after two runner-up finishes. The Cadets not only put up crazy numbers — 56 points per game in 1944, 46 in 1945 and “only” 26 in 1946 — but did so against the nation’s best teams. They put up 59 on No. 5 Notre Dame and 23 on No. 2 Navy in 1944, then took things to another gear.
Cam Newton was a one-man wrecking crew for Auburn in 2010. His 4,327 yards of total offense (2,854 pass, 1,473 rush) set an SEC single-season record. Newton led this team to a new school record for scoring and finished second in the nation in passing efficiency (180.52). His 20 rushing touchdowns were second all-time only to Tim Tebow in SEC history and his 51 total touchdowns were No. 2 to Tebow as well. The backfield included 1,000-yard rusher Michael Dyer and 800-yard rusher Onterio McCalebb, and the SEC’s top blocker, Lee Ziemba, anchored a stellar, veteran offensive line. A set of veteran receivers —Darvin Adams, Terrell Zachery — mixed with young talent — Emory Blake, Philip Lutzenkirchen — gave Newton plenty of talented targets. When the Tigers needed a big play with the game on the line, few players on this list were ever more unstoppable than Cam Newton.
13). 1988 Oklahoma.State Cowboys
OSU was enjoying a reasonable run of success in the mid-1980s. The Cowboys would pay for that with sanctions that would wreck the program in the early-1990s, but they had gone 10-2 in both 1984 and 1987, and they would do so again in 1988.
But 1988 was different. The ‘Pokes averaged 26 points per game in 1984 and, with Thurman Thomas taking most of the carries, 34 in 1987. In 1988, they lost Thomas, a future NFL Hall of Famer, and improved by 15 points per game.
Texas A&M fell, 52-15. Colorado and Missouri fell by a combined 90-42. Nebraska prevailed over the Cowboys in Lincoln, but OSU scored 42 points in the meantime. Kansas State, Kansas, and Iowa State fell by a combined 157-79. Texas Tech gave up 45. Wyoming gave up 62 in the Holiday Bowl.
12). 2010 Oregon Ducks
One of the most powerful, explosive, and fast-paced offenses in league history led the nation in scoring and total offense. It was the highest-scoring team (611 pts) in school history, and it played in its first-ever BCS National Championship game. The offense was led by first-year quarterback Darron Thomas (2,881 yards, 30 TDs, 486 rush yards, 5 TDs) and the nation’s leading rusher and scorer in LaMichael James (144.3 ypg, 12.0 ppg). James earned the Doak Walker as the nation’s top running back. The talented offensive duo was joined by leading receiver Jeff Maehl (77 rec., 1,076 yards, 12 TDs) and star back-up Kenjon Barner (1,040 all-purpose yards, 9 total TDs). The only blemish on the ’10 Ducks resume was obviously the 75 yards rushing and 19 points scored in the BCS title game loss to Auburn.
The highest-scoring team in NCAA history (716 total points), this Oklahoma team scored no fewer than 35 points prior to the BCS National Championship game against Florida. Quarterback Sam Bradford rewrote the Oklahoma record books on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy. Bradford finished No. 1 in the nation in pass efficiency (180.84) and No. 4 in total offense (340.5 ypg). He set single-season school records for yards (4,270) and touchdown passes (50). This offense led the nation with only 11 turnovers all season and featured a pair of 1,000-yard backs in DeMarco Murray (1,397 yards from scrimmage, 18 total TDs) and Chris Brown (1,329 yards from scrimmage and 21 total TDs). Laid an again against Florida in the title game, which is the reason they are not higher.
This Seminoles team had two first-round draft picks in Peter Warrick and Sebastian Janikowski. The undefeated national championship team that topped the dynamic Michael Vick gets the nod after 220 all-purpose yards, three touchdowns and the MVP trophy for Warrick in the 2000 Sugar Bowl. Few teams will ever match the depth and talent of a receiving corps that included Warrick, Ron Dugans, Marvin Minnis, Laveranues Coles, and Anquan Boldin. For good measure, toss in Travis Minor, the best kicker in the country and three linemen eventually drafted into the NFL, and you have one of the top 10 offenses of all time.
The exploits of Turner Gill and Mike Rozier in the 1983 Nebraska offense are legendary. If not for the Orange Bowl loss, this Nebraska team my just be number one of this list. Turner Gill ran the option to perfection with running back Mike Rozier. The passing game was explosive with Husker great Irving Fryar at the wide receiver position.
Tim Tebow had his Heisman Trophy (2007) and a national championship ring (2006), but the most talented, most successful Gator offense was his 2008 squad. The Gainesville idol gave one of the most famous speeches in college football history: “You will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season.” The Gators then went on to crush quality opponents Arkansas, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida State and Alabama by an average of 31.8 points per game. Florida led the SEC in rushing, total offense and scoring while play-maker Percy Harvin led the SEC in scoring (8.5 ppg). Tebow led the league in passing efficiency at 172.37. The Chosen One delivered on his promise (and halftime speech) by throwing for 231 yards and two scores while rushing for 109 yards on 22 carries to outlast Oklahoma 24-14 in the BCS Championship game.
Vince Young is one of the most dynamic players I’ve ever seen on a college gridiron and the numbers prove it. To get to Pasadena, Texas steamrolled the competition, averaging more than 50 points a game and scoring 60 or more four times. In the second week of the season, Texas became the first non-conference opponent in 15 years to defeat Ohio State in Columbus and followed that win up to about a month later by dominating Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry. The Longhorns destroyed Colorado 70-3 in the Big 12 Championship to set up the showdown with No. 1 USC. The Rose Bowl title tilt lived up to every bit of its billing as Vince Young put on the most impressive performance in BCS National Championship history, accounting for 84 percent of Texas’ total offense (467 out of 556 yards), and scored the game-winning touchdown with 19 seconds left to capture the Longhorns’ fourth national championship in thrilling fashion. The Horns scored a school-record 50.2 points per game.
It was a quick-strike offense, unlike anything PSU and college football fans had ever seen, one that ended up averaging 47 points per game and around two minutes per scoring drive. When Ki-Jana Carter, Mike Archie, and Brian Milne weren’t busy running the ball all over the field, QB Kerry Collins was busy slinging the ball all over the field to various receiving weapons such as Bobby Engram, Freddie Scott, and tight end Kyle Brady. A beastly offensive line anchored by the likes of Marco Rivera and Jeff Hartings helped open the holes for the running backs and gave Collins his fair share of time to find an open receiver. The most famous win was a 62-14 beating of the Ohio.St Buckeyes.
A year after taking a page from rival Texas and switching to the wishbone, Oklahoma shattered records with it. The Sooners, who finished 11-1 and second in the AP poll upon losing to Nebraska in one of the greatest games ever, averaged 472.4 rushing yards per game and 6.8 yards per carry. They also averaged 566.5 yards of total offense and 44.9 points per game, rushing for 56 touchdowns. Greg Pruitt ran for 1,760 yards and finished third in the Heisman race. Quarterback Jack Mildren ran for 1,279 yards and finished sixth. Leon Crosswhite ran for 744. Roy Bell ran for 625. The Sooners still hold the record for rushing yards per game in a season. Offensive coordinator Barry Switzer became head coach of the Sooners two years later, replacing Chuck Fairbanks.
Do-everything tailback Reggie Bush led the nation in all-purpose yards at 222.3 yards per game and claimed the Heisman Trophy — the second straight for USC (Leinart, 2004). A 513-yard performance and this touchdown run in a shootout win over a ranked Fresno State team likely clinched the Heisman trophy for the dynamic running back. After crushing rival UCLA, the Trojans finished the 2005 season having never left the No. 1 line in the polls. They carried a 34-game winning streak into the BCS National Championship game against Texas in what became the first time two Heisman winners ever played in the same backfield. Leinart threw for a title game record 365 yards, but the Trojans defense could not stop Vince Young in what is the greatest game ever played according to a lot of people. This team had 19 players drafted — three QBs, seven OL, four RBs, three WRs and two TEs — off of the offense and was so deep that Mark Sanchez was the third-string quarterback. In the end, this was a team that came up 19 seconds short of being considered the greatest college team of all time.
When Roger Staubach was named Heisman Trophy winner at Navy in 1963, he passed for 1,702 yards and seven touchdowns. Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow threw for 1,984 yards and 22 touchdowns in just his final five games, contributing to one of the greatest individual seasons in college football history. LSU defeated through the course of the year seven teams ranked inside the top 10, which featured Big 12 champion Oklahoma and winners of the Fiesta, Orange, Sugar, Citrus, Alamo and Texas bowls. The offense won the Tigers the National Championship as the defense struggled from time to time, but Joe Burrow was a machine in every game during the 2019 season.
The offensive numbers may not be as staggering as 2008 Oklahoma or 2010 Oregon, for example, but from a talent perspective, it is hard to argue this isn’t the most gifted offense ever assembled. Quarterback Ken Dorsey claimed co-Big East Player of the Year honors playing behind five drafted NFL linemen, a backfield featuring Clinton Portis, Frank Gore, Willis McGahee and Najeh Davenport and a receiving corps with Andre Johnson and Jeremy Shockey leading the way. They started things off by going to Happy Valley and dominating Penn State 33-7, which tied the record for the Nittany Lions’ worst home loss under Joe Paterno. Later on, the Canes defeated No. 14 Syracuse and No. 12 Washington in consecutive weeks at the Orange Bowl with a combined score of 124-7, which set the NCAA record for largest margin of victory over consecutive ranked opponents. They capped things off by dismantling the No. 4 Nebraska Cornhuskers 37-14 in the Rose Bowl, in a game in which they held a 34-0 lead in the first half. Miami’s average margin of victory in 2001 was 33.2 points per game. This was the deepest college football team in history.
1). 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers
The 1995 Huskers were simply the most unstoppable offense ever! They played a schedule that featured seven teams that finished .500 or better and four that won at least 10 games. They averaged 53 points per game. They outscored Michigan State and Arizona State in September by a combined 127-38 and wrapped up a perfect regular season with a 37-0 win over Oklahoma that could have been much worse. Average score against those four 10-win teams: NU 49, Haplessly Overmatched Foe 18. Throw in a 62 point National Championship game performance against outmanned Florida and you have the greatest offense in college football history.
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