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Does Bryce Petty lead the best offense in the nation?
Baylor and Oregon have been putting on quite a show this season.
The Bears and Ducks own the top two spots in terms of total offense rankings after seven weeks, and the numbers are quite mind-boggling.
Baylor is averaging 9.4 yards per play, while the Ducks reel off 8.1 yards a play. Considering both teams are averaging nearly a first down every time they touch the ball, it shows just how dynamic these offenses are.
Those numbers are just a small sample of how dynamic both offenses have been this season. And with those numbers in mind, it’s not easy to pick the best offense in the nation.
However, that’s the question Athlon’s editors were tasked with answering, as the Bears and Ducks look to continue their current pace in Week 8.
Baylor or Oregon: Which Team has the Best Offense in College Football?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
I’m tempted to say Baylor here, but I have to stick with Oregon. And before I explain my position, I think it’s worth pointing out there’s no wrong answer here. Both teams are two of the best offenses in the nation and will continue to post ridiculous numbers. The Bears have the better coach and have a slight advantage in the trenches. However, the Ducks take the edge largely due to quarterback Marcus Mariota. The sophomore should be the frontrunner to win the Heisman after Week 7 and has a year of experience on Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty. The Bears can match Oregon’s depth at running back, and the receivers might be more explosive, but again, it’s hard to pick against a quarterback like Mariota. Also, I think we have to give the Ducks some credit so far this season, as they have played a tougher schedule, with matchups against BCS teams like Tennessee, Virginia, Colorado, California and Washington. Baylor gashed West Virginia, but I’m curious to see if this offense can continue its current pace against teams like Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State.
Coach Fisher DeBerry, former head coach of Air Force and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
I would hate play either one because they put so much pressure on your defense. They don't give your defensive team time to catch their breath. Your defense is scrambling to keep up with their pace. Both have had incredible quarterback play. I would say Oregon has a little bit of an edge over Baylor just for the fact they have played a little tougher schedule to date.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Baylor is running plays at an unprecedented rate — both in yards and time. The Bears’ offensive line is the unheralded unit, as the hog mollies in Waco might be the best collection in the Big 12 and is making all of this production possible. However, we saw how human the Bears can be in Manhattan, Kansas. Oregon has been scoring in the 60s before Art Briles moved to Waco, it has better overall talent and has been doing it against better competition. Marcus Mariota is, for my money, is the best player in college football — he's 18-1 as a starter with 63 career touchdowns and six career interceptions — and once De'Anthony Thomas is healthy, there is no better offense in the nation than the Oregon Ducks. These are both elite offenses operating at historic clips. You can't go wrong with either, but I'll take the one from Eugene.
That's kind of like asking which luxury car is better or, more appropriate here, which high-end sports car is faster? OK, I'll bite. Baylor has more yards and points, but I'll take Oregon. Chip Kelly may have left Eugene for Philadelphia, but new head Duck Mark Helfrich has made the transition, just like Kelly did in 2009, from offensive coordinator to head coach seamlessly.
Last season, Oregon finished fifth in the nation in total offense with 537.4 yards and 49.5 points per game. Through six games this season, these Ducks sit in second place (behind Baylor) in both categories with 630.5 yards and 56.8 points per contest. Last week, Oregon piled up 631 total yards in its convincing 45-24 win over then-No. 16 Washington. The Huskies came into this game allowing 3.9 yards per play, the Ducks doubled that.
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is a Heisman contender who had 454 total yards and four touchdowns (3 pass, 1 rush) against Washington. He's taking efficient quarterbacking to another level, as his last interception came nine games ago. His versatility is one of the signatures of this offense, which has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to explosive, dynamic skill players. Case in point, five different Ducks have carried the ball at least 20 times this season and all five are averaging well over five yards per carry, including Mariota (10.4).
No disrespect to what Bryce Petty, Lache Seastrunk, Tevin Reese and company are accomplishing at Baylor, but when it comes to offensive firepower I'll take the dynamic Ducks over Art Briles' Bears. We still have a long ways to go, but would anyone care to guess what the over/under would be should Baylor and Oregon end up playing each other in a bowl game? Now that would be must-see TV.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
I had gone back and forth on this until last week, but Saturday probably erased any doubt. Part of me wants to say Baylor — out of respect for Art Briles, out of the possibilities of an underdog and out of interest in what is new and shiny (with those helmets last week, quite literally shiny). But the answer is Oregon right now. The Ducks are simply more proven this season and have more options on offense, as they proved at Washington without De’Anthony Thomas and Colt Lyerla. Marcus Mariota is one of the nation’s top quarterbacks, if not the best. Bryce Petty will have a fine season and may end up a Heisman finalist, but Mariota is magical. Lache Seastrunk may be better than any individual Oregon back, scary considering he was once there for a time, but the Ducks are too deep at that position from Thomas to Byron Marshall to Thomas Tyner. The receivers may be a wash, and both teams have impressive offensive lines. But until I see Baylor tested through the course of the season, we all have to defer to Oregon.