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LSU's 2019 offense was the best in college football history. Alabama's may be better

LSU's 2019 season was more than just a simple national championship, it was a crowning achievement. The Tigers rolled up wins over Texas, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma and Clemson -- all but two of them away from Baton Rouge. They were a cast of characters unmatched in college football's storied lore -- Ed Orgeron, Joe Burrow, Joe Brady and all the rest. Tying it all together was an all-timer of an offense, a fearsome attack that married efficiency and explosiveness like no other that came before in the sport's 150 year history and would not be equaled by any that came after.

Taking it a step further, LSU's 2019 offense could not be equaled or surpassed. Who could possibly roll off 568.4 yards per game (1st in the nation), 7.89 yards per play (2nd), 48.4 points per game (2nd), 6,024 passing yards, 61 passing touchdowns, 95 total touchdowns and 726 total points.

Since 2009, 29 teams have averaged at least 10 yards per passing attempt. Among the other 28 averaged 305.8 total passes; 10 threw fewer than 200. LSU maintained a 10.6-yard average while throwing 567 passes.

LSU's 2019 numbers would stand the test of time like Cy Young's 511 wins and Nolan Ryan's 5,714 strikeouts -- the perfect marriage of talent and circumstance.

Well, Alabama's 2020 offense will not match LSU's cumulative numbers. The coronavirus pandemic has made sure this edition of the Crimson Tide will not throw for 6,024 yards or score 726 points.

But on a per play and per game basis, 2020 Alabama has been even better.

Let's start where both offenses begin, at the quarterback position. Mac Jones has started the season on a torrid pace, leading the nation with 13.2 yards per attempt and a 220.1 rating, which would shatter Joe Burrow's year-old FBS record 201.96 rating.

For an apples to apples comparison, we'll compare Jones's start with Burrow's first four SEC games from last season. Led by an absolutely insane 16.1 yards per attempt in the Tide's 52-24 demolition of Texas A&M, Jones has thrown for 179 more yards on 17 fewer attempts than Burrow at the same point of last season.

Joe Burrow through four SEC games, 2019

Opponent

Completions

Attempts

Yards

YPA

 TD-INT

Rating

at Vanderbilt

25

34

398

11.7

6-0

230.1

vs. No. 6 Florida

21

24

293

12.2

3-0

231.3

at Mississippi St.

25

32

327

10.2

4-0

205.2

vs. No. 14 Auburn

32

42

321

7.6

1-1

143.5

Total

103

132

1,339

10.1

14-1

196.7

Mac Jones through four SEC games, 2020

Opponent

Comp.

Attempts

Yards

YPA

TD-INT

Rating

at Missouri

18

24

249

10.4

2-0

189.7

vs. No. 7 Texas A&M

20

27

435

16.1

4-1

250.9

at Ole Miss

28

32

417

13.0

2-0

217.6

vs. No. 3 Georgia

24

32

417

13.0

4-1

219.5

Total

90

115

1,518

13.2

12-2

220.1

Jones undoubtedly benefits from a best-in-the-nation wide receiving corps, led by Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith, but you don't throw for 1,518 yards on 115 attempts without throwing guys open with your arm and your eyes.

Because Jones is getting more done on fewer throws than Burrow, Steve Sarkisian has more opportunities to feed Najee Harris.

While Clyde Edwards-Helaire ranked a respectable 28th nationally with 94.3 rushing yards per game on 14.3 carries per game, Harris is currently fifth in the FBS in rushing. His 83 carries have accumulated 499 yards -- 6.01 a pop, second in FBS among all players with at least 80 carries -- with a national best 11 touchdowns.

In total, Harris has registered 585 yards and 11 scores on 91 scrimmage touches through four games, compared to Edwards-Helaire's 496 yards and four touchdowns on 56 touches at this point in 2019.

All of that success is underwritten by the best offensive line in college football.

Below is a full comparison of per-play and per-game stats.

2019 LSU

Stat

2020 Alabama

7.89

Yards Per Play

8.31

568.4

Yards Per Game

561.3

48.4

Points Per Game

48.5

10.6

Yards Per Pass Attempt

12.7

166.8

Rushing Offense

168.3

4.88

Yards Per Carry

4.61

5.0

TFL Allowed Per Game

4.5

49.8%

3rd Down Conversions

61.9%

3.1

Punts Per Game

2.5

It's not fair to either team to say Alabama of 2020 is or will be better than LSU of 2019. Establishing this pace over four games is one thing, keeping it over 15 -- or 13, the maximum number of games the Tide can play this season -- is another.

All we're saying is, when LSU was informally crowned as College Football's Greatest Offense of All-Time was placed upon their head this January, who could have ever imagined it would be a question if that title would survive the year?