There has been a lot of conversation throughout the 2012 season about the rising tempo throughout football. And not just in the college game, either. See this note in Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback: "Another sign of the times that the NFL game is changing before our eyes: The Patriots ran 205 more plays in the regular season this year than they did in 2010 -- an increase of 13 offensive snaps per game.play club grows by the year."
Looking at the college game, what jumped out to us today was the number of teams that ran 1,000 plays in 2012. First, we must look at where we came from and just how fast we got here. As recently as five years ago, only five teams ran 1,000 plays. The number was the same in 2009, five, with only Oklahoma and Houston repeating from year-to-year.
Then, in 2010, eight teams reached 1,000 plays. A year ago, the number jumped to 13. And in 2010, the 1,000-play club ballooned to 23. Clicking through the years on CFBStats.com looks like the construction an inverted numerical skyscraper: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Tempo isn't just rising among the ultra-fast offenses, either. In 2008, 35 teams ran 900 or more plays; in 2012, 58 teams snapped the ball 900 times or more.
Not surprisingly, the number of teams topping 500 yards per game has followed suit. From 2007-11, a maximum of six teams posted 500 yards or more per game. In 2012, 10 teams reached 500 yards per game. In 2008, 35 teams averaged 400 yards or more per game; in 2012, 60 teams reached that number.
It sounds crazy to say, but there may soon come a time when 500 yards a game, and the 1,000 plays it takes to get there, is the price of poker if you want to win in college football.