Looking at some stats last night, something jumped out at me while looking at the numbers attached to total offense. Two of the top three offensive units in college football (Bowling Green and Tulsa) are relative newcomers to the party, while Baylor (#1 overall) is the seasoned veteran of the group. Art Briles' squad has been ranked #1 or #2 to end the season dating all the way back to 2011.
But that wasn't all. All three of these programs share (at least) one more common link. I know what you're thinking, and yes, they are all uptempo, no huddle teams, but that's not quite what I had in mind.
Haven't figured out the connection yet? All three teams have a connection with an Art Briles coached Baylor squad. 247 pointed out the same this morning.
Allow me to go into further detail. Tulsa is led by Philip Montgomery, who served as the co-offensive coordinator / quarterbacks / running backs coach at Baylor from 2006-2011 before moving into the offensive coordinator / quarterbacks role from 2012-2015 and leading their dynamic offensive explosion onto the national scene. Dino Babers at Bowling Green has a Baylor background too, serving as the wide receivers coach / recruiting coordinator in 2008 before moving on to cover the special teams and coach the wide receivers from 2008-2011.
While Baylor has averaged over 750 yards of total offense in their first three games, it's been against SMU and Lamar. Far more impressive is what Tulsa and Bowling Green have been able to do with the balls in their hands.
Tulsa, ranked #3 nationally in total offense, has averaged 609 yards of total offense against an all-FBS slate with the likes of FAU, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Last year in their losses to the Owls and Sooners to start the year, Tulsa was outscored 102-28. This year, the Golden Hurricane beat FAU 47-44 in overtime and then gave the Sooners everything they could handle two weeks later before losing 38-52. Part of what has made Tulsa so effective is their balance (8 passing TDs to 7 rushing TDs). While quarterbacks Dane Evans has thrown for almost 1,200 yards already, they also have two running backs over 230 yards rushing, and three guys total averaging 4.4 yards per carry or more.
Even more impressive has been Bowling Green's ability to rack up yardage. At 609 yards per game, Dino Babers has the Falcons at #2 nationally in total offense after facing programs from the SEC, Big Ten, and one of the most improved teams in the country last year. Babers' squad may be sitting at 1-2 overall right now, but they've put up some monster numbers with the ball in their hands while opening up at at Tennessee (a 30-59 loss where quarterback Matt Johnson threw for 424 yards) and then traveled to Maryland (a 48-27 win highlighted by Johnson's 491 passing yards and six touchdowns) before having their home opener last weekend against Memphis (a 41-44 loss).
It will be interesting to see if all three teams (especially Tulsa and Bowling Green) can keep this trend up as the season goes on, because after all, we are only in week three. But if they do, the two young branches coming off from Briles' offensive coaching tree will be one of the more impressive story lines of the season.