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Blueprint for BCS Championship Success II: Offensive Results

By · July 30th, 2010 · 2 Comments
Blueprint for BCS Championship Success II: Offensive Results

Editor’s note: This is the second installment of a five-part series detailing the blueprint for winning the BCS national championship and measuring the Irish performance against this standard.

Offensively, what does it take to win the BCS national championship? The data below outlines the statistical metrics that answer this question via the approach described in the opening segment. The metrics have been divided into four categories (miscellaneous, total, rushing and passing) and the data is presented in tabular form.

Each table includes the metric value (e.g. yards per rush attempt) and the corresponding national rank for each of the last 10 BCS championship teams. The last two rows indicate the established metric ranking and value cutoffs as well as the number of teams above these cutoffs.

Above each table, all of the investigated metrics in each category are listed. As noted in the first installment, those found to be common and/or important characteristics of a BCS national championship caliber offense are italicized. Below each table is a brief discussion detailing pertinent characteristics and strong trends of the data. Where noted, data from all 20 BCS title game participants (winners and losers) has been incorporated.

The intent of this segment is merely to present the results and make note of strong trends. The conclusions and implications of these results will be discussed in the fourth segment (Outlining the Blueprint).


Admittedly, turnover margin is a team—not an offensive—metric. The choice was made to place it here with the offense as opposed to with the defensive results.

Metrics investigated:

  • Time of possession
  • Penalties
  • Turnover margin
Blueprint Miscellaneous Value And Ranking Data

[table id=224 /]

The average turnover margin is 14.2 with an average ranking of 13.9. No team had a turnover margin less than five, eight teams exceeded a value of six, and six generated turnover margins of 13 or better. Nine teams ranked inside the top 30, six ranked 16th or better, and five ranked 5th or better including first place rankings by USC in 2004 and Miami in 2001. Adding the losing teams, 75 percent of BCS title game participants ranked 29th or better and 70 percent had a turnover margin of five or more.


Metrics investigated:

  • Third down efficiency
  • Red zone efficiency
  • Red zone touchdown efficiency
  • Yards per play (YPP)
  • Yards per game (YPG)
  • Points per game (PPG)
Blueprint Total Offense Value And Ranking Data

[table id=225 /]

Third Down Efficiency

Ranking data was not readily available for third down efficiency in 2000-2004 and the value of Oklahoma’s 2000 offense could not be found.

The remaining data, however, shows a strong correlation. Of the five available third down efficiency rankings, four were 21st or better and seven posted a rating of 43.2 percent or higher. Additionally, the average third down efficiency of the nine teams listed is 44.5 percent, a value good for an average ranking of 23 in 2005-2009. Including all 20 squads increases the average third down efficiency to 45.9 percent as 16 teams converted third downs at a rate of 42.6 percent or higher.

Yards Per Play (YPP)

The last 10 BCS champions averaged 6.3 yards per play, good for an average ranking of 15.4. Two squads—Texas in 2005 and Florida in 2008—averaged a gaudy 7.1 YPP, nine gained 5.8 or more YPP, and seven averaged six-plus YPP.  All 10 teams ranked 31st or better in this metric, nine ranked 28th or better, and six posted a ranking of 12th or higher. Adding in the losers, 18 teams averaged at least 5.8 YPP and all but one (Texas last season) ranked 33rd or higher.

Yards Per Game (YPG)

The 10 teams averaged just over 430 yards per game, a value that increases to more than 450 when the losing squads are included. Only two teams—the 2002 Buckeyes and 2009 Crimson Tide—ranked outside the top 31 and averaged fewer than 403 YPG. Excluding these two teams, the remaining eight BCS champions averaged 443 YPG, good for a mean ranking of 16.5. Using data from all 20 participants, 17 teams ranked 31st or better and 18 gained more than 393 YPG.

Points Per Game (PPG)

The average per game point output was 37.8. No team averaged fewer than 29 PPG, three (Miami in 2001, Texas in 2005, and Florida in 2008) posted scoring totals of 40 PPG or more, and eight averaged more than 32 points per outing. Five ranked 7th or better and nine ranked 23rd or better. Including all 20 participants the mean PPG mark is 39.1 as all 20 teams averaged better than 29 PPG and 18 eclipsed a scoring rate of 31 PPG. Additionally, 18 of the past 20 BCS championship game participants ranked 23rd or higher.


Metrics investigated:

  • Attempts
  • Yards per attempt (YPA)
  • Yards per game (YPG)
  • Touchdowns
Blueprint Rushing Offense Value And Ranking Data

[table id=226 /]


None of the previous 10 BCS winners attempted fewer than 410 rushes as the 10 teams averaged 538.6 rush attempts per season, a mark lowered about five percent by two outliers—the 2000 Sooners and 2001 Hurricanes. The average increases to 569.3 excluding these two teams as the remaining eight teams ran the ball 476 or more times and ranked 34th or higher in rush attempts. Including losing teams, 16 ranked 34th or higher in rush attempts and 18 posted 455 or more rush attempts.

Yards Per Attempt (YPA)

The 10 squads averaged just under five yards per attempt and just over a 20th ranking as only one team—Oklahoma in 2000—gained under 4.3 YPA. Additionally, five squads (the 2001 Hurricanes, 2005 Longhorns, 2008 Gators, and 2009 Crimson Tide) posted averages in excess of five YPA and eight teams ranked 32nd or better. Of all 20 participants, 16 met or exceeded a 33rd ranking and 17 gained at least 4.3 YPA.

Yards Per Game (YPG)

The 2005 Longhorns led the way in ground production gaining almost 275 yards per game and ranking 2nd in the country and five (the 2001 Hurricanes, the aforementioned Longhorns, LSU in 2007, Florida in 2008, and Alabama last season) posted marks in excess of 200 YPG. As a whole, the 10 champions averaged just under 200 YPG and just over a ranking of 25 as eight teams rushed for at least 177 YPG and ranked 33rd or better. Adding in the losing squads, 16 teams averaged 165 YPG or higher and a ranking of 33rd or better.


No team rushed for fewer than 24 touchdowns and nine teams ranked 21st or higher. The 10 squads averaged 32.6 rushing touchdowns per season and slightly better than a 14th ranking. Again, the 2005 Longhorns led the pack this time with 55 rushing scores, good for 1st in the country. The losing teams weren’t decidedly different, averaging the same number of rushing touchdowns per season (32.6) and a slightly lower average ranking of 17.4. Of the 20 participants, 18 ranked 32nd or better in rushing touchdowns and no team rushed for fewer than 21 scores.


Metrics investigated:

  • Attempts
  • Yards per attempt (YPA)
  • Yards per completion (YPC)
  • Yards per game (YPG)
  • Touchdowns
  • Completion percentage
  • Sacks allowed
  • Attempts/sack allowed, normalized to account for differences in pass attempts
  • Pass efficiency
Blueprint Passing Offense Value And Ranking Data

[table id=227 /]

Yards Per Attempt (YPA)

The 10 squads averaged 8.2 yards per pass attempt (average ranking just under 18) including two teams—Texas in 2005 and Florida in 2008—that exceeded nine YPA. Eight teams gained at least 7.9 YPA and ranked 24th or better. Including the losers, 17 teams gained more than 7.7 YPA and ranked 24th or higher in the category.


Only two teams—Ohio State in 2002 and Alabama last year—threw for fewer than 22 passing touchdowns on their way to the title as the 10 teams averaged 25.8 passing touchdowns per year, good for an average ranking of just under 27. Additionally, eight teams ranked 21st or higher. Including all 20 squads, 17 teams scored 22 or more times through the air and 16 ranked 21st or better.

Completion Percentage

Half of the past 10 BCS champions ranked in the top 10 in completion percentage as the teams averaged a 62.4 percent completion rate and a ranking of 21.2 with only Miami in 2001 and LSU in 2007 posting a mark lower than 60 percent. Additionally, eight winners and eight losers ranked 30th or better and posted completion ratings of at least 61.3 percent.

Pass Efficiency

Eight teams ranked 15th or better in pass efficiency including two—Texas in 2005 and Florida in 2008—that posted a top five mark. The average pass efficiency was nearly 149 (average ranking of 14.5) as nine teams exceeded a rating of 138.5. Out of all 20 squads, 18 generated pass efficiency ratings of 138.4 or better and 16 ranked in the top 15.

Up next, defensive results of the analysis including pertinent data trends.



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