I do this study every February for a number of reasons, the first of all being it’s February and this is a college football website. More than that, we do it because our numbers tell us y’all like reading it, and because it’s simply fun to dig deep into the numbers and see what teams excelled at each of the many facets that make football such an interesting sport.
But a few weeks ago we got a call from a Division II head coach who hired his defensive coordinator in part based on what he saw in the 2018 season version of this very article.
This silly little article got someone one a job.
Okay, fine: the work that person put in got them the job, and I just happened to notice it. But this silly little article got someone a job.
You may or may not want to hire someone based on what you see here, but there’s something for everyone: a starting point to fix a struggling part of your game, a dead-of-the-offseason quenching of your stat-geek thirst, or just plain team/conference/divisional pride.
— It’s splitting hairs when you’re as dominant as they are, but if you had to pick a side of the ball primarily responsible for the respective rises of North Dakota State and Mount Union, you’d pick defense, right?
Both programs now win with their offense.
Mount Union had, top to bottom, the best offense in college football in 2019. Led by Geoff Dartt, the Purple Raiders scored the most points and gained the most yards in the entire sport.
- In raw numbers, Mount Union ran 858 plays for 6,835 yards (4,128 passing/2,707 rushing) with 87 touchdowns in 12 games.
- They went 11-1 and scored 52 points in their loss, a second-round defeat to eventual national champion North Central (Ill.).
- Harding (Ark.) led the nation in passing efficiency, but that’s because they threw the ball 24 times in 12 games. (Seriously.) Among teams that actually threw the ball, Mount Union’s was the most efficient — 72 percent completions for an even 12 yards an attempt with 54 touchdowns against two picks over 28.7 passes per game.
— North Dakota State led FCS in yards per play (7.34) and yards per carry (6.40). They cruised to an eighth title in nine years while ranking a pedestrian (by their standards) 30th in rushing defense and yards per carry allowed.
— 2019 was not a vintage year for Mike Leach, but what turned out to be his swan song on at Washington State saw him go out on a high. Helmed by fifth-year senior Anthony Gordon, Washington State averaged a mind-numbing 437.2 passing yards per game, trailing only his 2014 Cougar teams (477.7), which represented a 63-yard increase from 2018 and easily led the country.
— Pound for pound, Division III had the best offense and defense in college football. Wheaton College permitted 2,635 yards and 17 touchdowns over 823 plays in 12 games, sweeping the Big Four — scoring defense (8.9 points per game), total defense (202.7 yards per game), yards per play (3.2) and pass efficiency defense (84.55). The Thunder also boasted the second best rushing defense in college football, limiting opponents to 51.8 yards per game and 1.62 a carry.
— People keep running the ball on The College at Brockport, and they keep getting stuffed. Brockport has now allowed 502 rushing yards, total, over the last two seasons. After giving up a mind-blowing 81 total rushing yards a year ago, they slipped to 421 this year. That’s 35.1 yards a game and 1.44 a carry. And, because I know you’re wondering, Brockport registered 28 sacks in 12 games (2.33 a game, tied for 87th in Division III) for 208 yards. Remove those and opponents rushed 264 times for 629 yards on pure rushing plays, good for 52.4 yards a game and 2.38 a carry.
— The first step to creating a solid third down offense is [extremely generic football pundit voice] is to be good on first and second down. The second step is to call Todd Knight, Jay Derby and the Ouachita Baptist staff. Ouchita converted 62.3 percent of their third downs; no one else in college football hit above 58.1.
— It was not a good season for Division III Defiance College in Ohio. The Yellow Jackets went 1-9, and opponents registered 85 red zone trips in those 10 games — more than two per quarter. Though they penetrated Defiance’s red zone often, opponents often met a brick wall once they got there: only 34 of those 85 attempts found the end zone, good for only 40 percent. In total, opponents scored points 39 times in 85 tries.
— Sam Houston State edged Illinois Wesleyan in tackles for loss. Illinois Wesleyan posted 109 over 10 games, while Sam Houston State registered 131 in 12, good for 10.92 per game.
Without further ado, here are your statistical champions for the 2019 college football season.
FBS: LSU — 48.4 points per game
FCS: Dayton — 42.5
D2: Minnesota State — 47.5
D3: Mount Union (Ohio) — 55.2
NAIA: Morningside (Iowa) — 52.5
FBS: LSU — 568.4 yards per game
FCS: Eastern Washington — 524.8
D2: Central Missouri — 547.5
D3: Mount Union (Ohio) — 569.6
NAIA: Morningside (Iowa) — 563.4
Yards Per Play
FBS: Oklahoma — 7.96
FCS: North Dakota State — 7.34
D2: Valdosta State (Ga.) — 7.64
D3: Hardin-Simmons (Texas) — 8.05
NAIA: Morningside (Iowa) — 7.47
FBS: Navy — 360.54 yards per game
FCS: Kennesaw State — 342.4
D2: Harding (Ark.) — 373.6
D3: Springfield (Mass.) — 357.4
NAIA: Bethel (Kan.) — 371.3
Yards Per Carry
FBS: Clemson — 6.37
FCS: North Dakota State — 6.40
D2: Valdosta State — 6.80
D3: Birmingham-Southern (Ala.) — 6.62
NAIA: Bethel (Kan.) — 6.62
FBS: Washington State — 437.2 yards per game
FCS: Northern Arizona — 361.0
D2: Shepherd (W. Va.) — 347.0
D3: Linfield (Ore.) — 379.2
NAIA: Morningside (Iowa) — 327.4
FBS: Alabama — 199.61
FCS: North Dakota State — 177.71
D2: Harding (Ark.) — 224.68
D3: Mount Union (Ohio) — 223.24
NAIA: Kansas Wesleyan — 188.62
Third Down Conversions
FBS: Ohio State — 55.2 percent
FCS: Dayton — 57.1
D2: Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) — 62.3
D3: Gustavus Adolphus (Minn.) — 57.9
NAIA: Morningside (Iowa) — 58.1
Red Zone Offense
FBS: Kansas State — 96.2 percent
FCS: Dayton — 94.5
D2: Northwest Missouri State — 97.6
D3: North Central (Ill.)/Widener (Pa.) — 92.7
FBS: Georgia — 12.6 points per game
FCS: North Dakota State — 12.3
D2: Harding (Ark.) — 12.3
D3: Wheaton (Ill.) — 8.9
NAIA: Grand View (Iowa) — 11.1
FBS: Ohio State — 259.7 yards per game
FCS: James Madison — 270.2
D2: Minnesota-Duluth — 250.3
D3: Wheaton (Ill.) — 202.7
NAIA: Marian (Ind.) — 231.9
Yards Per Play Allowed
FBS: Ohio State — 4.13
FCS: Sam Houston State — 4.37
D2: Tarleton State (Texas) — 3.95
D3: Wheaton (Ill.) — 3.20
NAIA: Marian (Ind.) — 3.53
FBS: Georgia — 74.6 yards per game
FCS: Sam Houston State — 69.9
D2: California U. of Pa. — 57.4
D3: Brockport (N.Y.) — 35.1
NAIA: Langston (Okla.) — 53.9
Yards Per Carry Allowed
FBS: Penn State — 2.55
FCS: Sam Houston State — 2.15
D2: St. Cloud State (Minn.) — 2.11
D3: Brockport (N.Y.) — 1.44
NAIA: Langston (Okla.) — 1.76
FBS: Ohio State — 156 yards per game
FCS: North Dakota State — 138.6
D2: Winston-Salem (N.C.) — 131.8
D3: Finlandia (Mich.) — 99.3
NAIA: Reinhardt (Ga.) — 133.8
Pass Efficiency Defense
FBS: Ohio State — 97.50
FCS: South Carolina State — 104.38
D2: Ferris State (Mich.) — 84.47
D3: Wheaton (Ill.) — 86.55
NAIA: Marian (Ind.) — 89.63
Sacks Per Game
FBS: Pitt/SMU — 3.9
FCS: Harvard — 4.3
D2: Concordia-St. Paul (Minn.) — 3.7
D3: Illinois Wesleyan — 4.5
NAIA: Georgetown (Ky.) — 3.9
Tackles For Loss Per Game
FBS: UCF — 9.1
FCS: Sam Houston State — 10.9
D2: Tarleton State (Texas) — 10.8
D3: Illinois Wesleyan — 10.9
Third Down Defense
FBS: Wisconsin — 27.3 percent
FCS: Sam Houston State — 27.9
D2: Colorado School of Mines — 24.3
D3: Brockport (N.Y.) — 22.6
NAIA: Langston (Okla.) — 21.0
Red Zone Defense
FBS: Louisiana Tech — 64.7 percent
FCS: Illinois State — 61.4
D2: Grand Valley State (Mich.) — 53.6
D3: Defiance (Ohio) — 45.9
FBS: Florida Atlantic — 2.3 per game
FCS: Alcorn — 2.8
D2: Colorado State-Pueblo — 3.0
D3: Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) — 3.1
FBS: Florida Atlantic — 1.50
FCS: Incarnate Word — 1.33
D2: Colorado State-Pueblo — 1.92
D3: Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) — 2.08
NAIA: Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) — 1.60
Penalties Per Game
FBS: Air Force — 3.2
FCS: Princeton — 3.5
D2: Minot State (N.D.) — 4.1
D3: Plymouth State (N.H.) — 2.8
NAIA: Indiana Wesleyan — 4.4