You can make an argument Oklahoma's 2017 team had the most efficient offense in college football history. In fact, I will do such a thing right now.
Those Sooners did not set the FBS record for yards per play -- that mark is held by 2006 Hawaii, coached by June Jones and quarterbacked by Colt Brennan, who ripped off 8.58 yards per play (on just 65.2 plays per game, which would have ranked in the 80s in 2017). But those Warriors weren't nearly as balanced as these Sooners; Hawaii threw the ball on two out of every three snaps and gained nearly 80 percent of their yards through the air.
Oklahoma's 2017 team was led by Baker Mayfield, who was out-of-his-mind good. The Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 NFL draft pick broke his own efficiency record by hitting 70.5 percent of his 404 throws for 4,627 yards (an insane 11.5 yards per attempt) for 43 touchdowns against just six interceptions.
But Lincoln Riley's offense actually ran the ball more than it threw it in 2017 -- significantly so. The Sooners threw 433 passes -- good for 48th most in FBS; turns out you don't have to throw it that often when your efficiency blows away even the service academies who toss a half-dozen passes a game -- and called 546 rushes. OU was good at running the ball, too, popping off for 217.8 yards per game (27th nationally) and 5.58 yards per carry (13th).
This wasn't a case of Oklahoma running up its averages in the garbage time of blowouts, either. Oklahoma ran the ball where it wanted, when it wanted. Case in point: the Rose Bowl. Led by Rodney Anderson's 26 carries for 201 yards and two touchdowns, Oklahoma rushed for 5.38 yards per game in its 54-48 double overtime loss, the most total yards and yards per carry Georgia surrendered all season.
Overall, Oklahoma ran the ball 55.8 percent of the time and gained 38.5 percent of its yards on the ground while leading the nation in yards per play (8.29), per game (579.6), total yardage (8,114) and total points (632).
In a world where every yard gained is a battle won, Riley's offense made it look so easy. How did he get that tight end to be so wide open right there in the middle of the field? How does his running back have so much space to himself in the second level? How did he get his quarterback so wide open in the end zone?
As Albert Breer details for TheMMQB, a lot of NFL types have started picking Riley's brain.
What has he told them?
“The thing we’ve found here is you can’t have too much in schematically,” Riley said. “You’ve got your time you feel like you’ve got to spend on fundamentals, you’ve got your time you feel like you’ve got to spend on schematics. And when there’s less time to work, you’ve got to decide what your priorities are, understand if you add something from somewhere you’re probably taking it from somewhere else.
“It just makes you nail down your priorities. And as you go through the season, you’ve got to be willing stick to them.”