Last week we talked about how the PAC-12 had roughly five teams ranked among the top 30 in the NCAA in defense, while four other teams were near the bottom – making the conference as a whole a league-average defensive group.
The PAC-12 offenses are actually roughly average across the NCAA as well, although that’s primarily because most of the teams in the NCAA are roughly league average.
Funny how that works.
However, there are some exceptions. Washington State is once again proving to be absolutely elite at moving the ball through the air, while Cal and Stanford are struggling to move the ball, well, at all.
Here is a quick look at some of the best – and worst – offenses in the PAC-12 and how they stack up around the rest of the college football landscape.
Pac-12 Top Tier Offense: Washington State Cougars
Under coach Mike Leach, Washington State has once again constructed an absolutely elite passing attack.
WSU is averaging 440.7 passing yards per game, an absolutely staggering number. It leads the NCAA by a wide, wide margin and is actually a higher average than seven PAC-12 schools are averaging in TOTAL OFFENSE.
Think about that.
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Anthony Gordon is off to a ridiculous start to the season, completing 70.2 percent of his passes for a whopping 2,981 yards and a 29/7 touchdown to interception ratio.
WSU’s record will likely keep him out of the Heisman conversation, but even though this isn’t the magical Gardner Minshew-team, this is still a high-octane offense and one of the very best in the entire college football landscape.
Bottom Tier: Cal Golden Bears
The Golden Bears got off to a hot start this season, going 4-0 and even sneaking into the top-25 conversation. Although the offense never exploded in any of those games, they scored 27, 20, 23 and 28 through those four victories, displaying enough to beat teams like UW and Ole Miss.
However, things have really fallen off the rails since then. Cal is 0-3 in the last few weeks, including an embarrassing loss to Oregon State last week. The offense has faltered slightly, only scoring 17 against Arizona State and Oregon State and mustering just seven against Oregon.
All told, Cal has the fewest points per game average in the PAC-12, at just 19.9 points per game. They are the worst passing team in the conference by a considerable margin, averaging just 193.7 passing yards per game. Even Stanford, known for stubbornly running the ball, is averaging 216 yards through the air.
All told, there are only 14 teams in the entire NCAA, and only two in the Power-5, who are averaging less than Cal’s 324 total yards of offense per game.
After that hot 4-0 start, Cal is proving, more or less, that they are who we thought they were.
Top Tier: Oregon Ducks
No surprise here. The Oregon Ducks have had an elite NCAA offense for nearly a decade now, ever since Chip Kelly and his high-octane offense graced the field in Eugene.
The Ducks average 457.1 yards of offense per game, second in the PAC-12 behind Washington State, and are scoring 35.9 points per game, also second in the PAC-12 behind WSU and just ahead of UW, who is at 35.8.
Oregon has a decently balanced offensive attack, although it’s not a huge surprise that they do most of their damage through the air. The team is averaging 283.6 yards per game in the air, thanks to Heisman trophy candidate Justin Herbert and his sparkly 21/1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
They are doing their fare share of work on the ground as well, with a tidy 173.6 rushing yard per game on average.
Oregon’s balanced attack and ability to avoid turnovers has made them one of the best teams in the Nation, and their chances at a CFB playoff spot remain intact at this point in the season.
Bottom Tier: Stanford Cardinal
Stanford is averaging a measly 20 points per game, barely above Cal’s 19.9 mark.
The team’s trademark run-heavy offensive attack has not been effective this year, as they are only generating 114.1 yards on the ground per game, which is among the worst marks in the entire NCAA and only tops Washington State in the conference.
The passing attack, frankly, hasn’t been much better – as QB’s David Mills and K.J. Costello have only been able to average 216 yards per game, and combined have a combined 7/3 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
It’s been a rough year for the Cardinal, and one that has them squarely among the worst offensive teams in the PAC-12 – and the nation.