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Interesting study on tempo in college football

As more and more offensive coordinators in college football subscribe to the "I want to go fast!" teachings of a young Ricky Bobby, we must pause to ask an important question: does getting to the line of scrimmage faster help a team win more games? If so, does that mean the opposite holds true as well?

The team at FootballStudyHall.com examined the fastest and slowest offenses in college football in terms of plays per minute of possession. Houston led the country with 3.28 plays per minute of possession, well ahead of second-place Oregon, while New Mexico was the slowest team in college football at 1.92 plays/mop. 

While the studies dives into other offshoots of this discussion, we decided to examine the 10 fastest and slowest offenses and see how those stats correlate with wins and losses.

Fastest Teams by Plays per Minute of Possession
1. Houston - 3.28, 5-7
2. Marshall - 3.20, 5-7
3. Louisiana Tech - 3.15, 9-3
4. Arizona - 3.05, 8-5
5. Baylor - 3.01, 8-5
6. Indiana - 2.95, 4-8
7. Oregon - 2.92, 12-1
8. Oklahoma State - 2.85, 8-5
9. Clemson - 2.84, 11-2
10. Akron - 2.83, 1-11

Combined, those teams went 71-54

10 Slowest Teams by Plays per Minute of Possession
1. New Mexico - 1.92, 4-8
2. Auburn - 1.96, 3-9
2. Florida - 1.96, 11-2
4. Alabama - 1.99, 13-1
5. Western Kentucky - 2.00, 7-6
6. Kansas State - 2.02, 11-2
7. Wisconsin - 2.05, 8-6
8. Maryland - 2.06, 4-8
9. Utah - 2.07, 5-7
10. Michigan - 2.09, 8-5

The tortoise group checks in at 74-54, nearly identical to the collection of hares at the top.

Admittedly this is a small sample size prone to outliers (for instance, New Mexico's 4-8 season brings the average down but was actually a smashing success on the field) but delving that deep into the numbers is beyond the point. Like anything else in football, offensive pace is much more about execution than scheme. It's not about how fast you get to the line of scrimmage, it's about what you do after the ball is snapped. 

Read the full study here.



Author: Zach Barnett
Zach Barnett is a native of Denton, Texas and a graduate of the University of Texas. He joined FootballScoop in 2012 after two years at the National Football Foundation. His hobbies include watching college football, reading about college football and writing about college football.