20 most entertaining offenses for 2018 college football season

Football is all about entertainment. And in today’s era of college football, few things are more captivating to its viewers than scoring points.

When these offenses hit the field, it’s a safe bet they’ll regularly be marching toward the end zone. While that doesn’t necessarily translate to wins — defense and special teams also matter — it certainly is enjoyable to watch.

Several schools on the list will be nationally televised often, but a couple of others are teams to remember. When there’s a lull in the action or a midweek game, be sure to flip on these squads.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Though it’s possible “Alabama fatigue” affects some fans, this offense should be akin to a steamroller. Four reliable linemen return, yet a couple of them aren’t guaranteed a starting spot because the younger talent is so good. That unit will be opening lanes for a tremendous duo in Damien Harris and Najee Harris. They’ll carry the running game, which could receive contributions from Jalen Hurts. But if Tua Tagovailoa wins the quarterback battle, Alabama’s passing game will be much-improved in addition to the dynamic rushing attack. Sophomore wideout Jerry Jeudy is primed for a breakout year.

Arizona Wildcats

The excitement of this offense revolves entirely around Khalil Tate. After beginning the 2017 campaign as a backup, he stepped into the lineup as an injury replacement. Tate performed so well that Brandon Dawkins ended up transferring this offseason. Tate amassed 3,002 yards of total offense and accounted for 26 touchdowns, averaging 9.2 yards per carry. One legitimate concern is Tate’s ability as a passer, but he has a few decent targets in Tony Ellison, Shun Brown and Shawn Poindexter. Regardless of that improvement, Tate will still be the most explosive running quarterback in the nation.

Arkansas State Red Wolves

One of six quarterbacks to average 325 yards last season, Justice Hansen also crushed school records. He racked up 3,967 yards and 37 touchdowns, cruising past the previous marks of 3,588 and 24, respectively. Hansen occasionally struggled with interceptions — three games with three picks or more — but the Red Wolves tied for 12th nationally at 37.8 points per contest anyway. Win or lose, this a fun offense to watch. Arkansas State has a big-play threat in Justin McInnis and a couple of 400-yard targets coming back. Warren Wand, a 5-foot-5 running back with more than 2,000 career yards, will lead the ground attack.

Auburn Tigers

Jarrett Stidham arrived at Auburn with serious hype, and he backed it up by leading the program to an SEC West championship last season. Yes, the Tigers fell short in the title game and lost to UCF in the Peach Bowl, but Stidham’s debut was definitely a success. He posted a final line of 3,158 yards and 18 touchdowns to only six interceptions. This season, he should carry a heavier load on offense following the departure of Kerryon Johnson. Auburn needs to reload the blocking unit, too. But with Stidham behind center and a trove of experienced talent at receiver, the Tigers will be a force in the SEC again.

Buffalo Bulls

The conclusion to the 2017 campaign sparked a bit of attention for Tyree Jackson and Anthony Johnson. During the last three games — all wins — the duo connected 21 times for 468 yards and eight touchdowns. Jackson only made eight appearances, yet he gathered 2,096 yards and 12 scores. The thought of a full season throwing to Johnson, the nation’s leading returning receiver at 1,356 yards, is all sorts of appealing. However, that’s not all. Buffalo also brings back 1,200-plus rushing yards between Emmanuel Reed and Theo Anderson plus 1,000-yard receiving yards among K.J. Osborn, Antonio Nunn and Tyler Mabry.

Central Florida Knights

The departure of head coach Scott Frost hurt, but Central Florida made a tremendous hire in Josh Heupel. He oversaw the nation’s eighth-most productive offense at Missouri last season. And now, he gets to work with McKenzie Milton. While leading the Knights to a 14-0 record, the dual-threat quarterback completed 67.1 percent of his passes for 4,037 yards and 37 touchdowns to only nine interceptions. He added 613 yards and eight scores on the ground. Speedster Adrian Killins Jr. and versatile piece Otis Anderson are perfect complements for Milton in the backfield, while Dredrick Snelson will be UCF’s top target.

Florida Atlantic Owls

Here comes more rat poison, Lane Kiffin. Not only is FAU immensely talented, it also has two fascinating storylines. 2018 will be the debut for offensive coordinator Charlie Weis Jr., who at 24 years old became the nation’s youngest assistant coach. Plus, the Owls must replace Jason Driskel, the quarterback who surprisingly retired this offseason. But FAU can lean on All-American running back Devin Singletary; he scampered for 1,920 yards and an FBS-high 32 touchdowns last year. Willie Wright and Jovon Durante will provide two excellent receiving threats in an offense Kiffin will expertly tailor with Weis to fit the Owls’ strengths.

Georgia Bulldogs

The departures of Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Javon Wims are significant, but Georgia is prepared to handle those losses. D’Andre Swift thrived in limited action last season, and he’ll be running behind an experienced offensive line with four returning starters. Terry Godwin, Mecole Hardman and Riley Ridley form a highly intriguing trio at receiver, too. And we haven’t even mentioned Jake Fromm until now. The Bulldogs protected him as a freshman, yet he still tallied 2,615 yards and 24 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. Fromm’s efficiency was already terrific, and an offseason of development should only help.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald was one of the unsung heroes of college football in Week 3

Had an ankle injury not prevented Nick Fitzgerald from playing in the bowl game, he could’ve posted back-to-back seasons with 2,000 passing and 1,000 rushing yards. That impressive level of production should remain steady under Joe Moorhead, yet the pressure isn’t all on the senior quarterback. The Bulldogs return a few of their starting offensive linemen, as well as 1,000-yard rusher Aeris Williams. Yes, a young and/or unproductive group of receivers is a real concern, but the combination of Fitzgerald’s versatility and Moorhead’s vision will make Mississippi State a challenging offense to read and contain.

Missouri Tigers

Hopefully the coordinator change from Josh Heupel to Derek Dooley doesn’t stop Missouri from doing what Drew Lock does best: throw deep. Last year, he paced the FBS in touchdowns (44) and completions of 50-plus yards (19). Per Pro Football Focus, his 1,493 deep passing yards ranked third overall. Since both Emanuel Hall and Johnathon Johnson return, the Tigers have the personnel to attack downfield, too. Plus, Damarea Crockett — despite a shoulder injury — and Larry Rountree III combined for 1,184 rushing yards in 2017. No matter the result on the scoreboard, the Tigers should have plenty of success on offense.

North Texas Mean Green

In a matter of two years, Seth Littrell has turned North Texas from a laughingstock to a budding power. The Mean Green ranked 118th nationally in total offense the year before he arrived but climbed to 24th last season. That’s a remarkable turnaround, and it’s largely a credit to quarterback Mason Fine. He smashed school records with 4,052 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2017. Since three 600-yard receivers return, Fine might set new program marks again. North Texas also has a promising running back in Nic Smith, who collected 684 yards and six touchdowns in a reserve role as a freshman.

Ohio Bobcats

If you’re seeking a proven player who deserves more national interest, a great choice is Nathan Rourke. The junior-college transfer earned the starting job and guided Ohio to a 9-4 record. He accounted for 3,115 yards of total offense, throwing for 17 scores and running in 21 more — which tied Washington’s Myles Gaskin for the third-most in the country. Rourke is already a legitimate star, and he’ll get plenty of help in 2018. A.J. Oullette ran for 1,000 yards last year, Papi White had 681 receiving yards despite missing four games. Two 300-yard wideouts are also back. Be sure to watch Ohio when midweek MACtion arrives.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins

One notable variable is whether Urban Meyer returns from administrative paid leave or parts ways with the university. Either way, though, the Buckeyes won’t be short on talent at skill positions. Dwayne Haskins has the capacity to elevate the passing game beyond what J.T. Barrett could, and Ohio State returns its six leading receivers. That doesn’t guarantee improvement, but it’s about time that experience translates to production. The pass-catching group will simply be complements to J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber anyway. They scampered for 1,403 and 626 yards, respectively, and combined for 17 touchdowns in 2017.

Oklahoma Sooners

Lincoln Riley already knows he needs a new quarterback for 2019, but Kyler Murray could be a star in his only season as a starter. The future Oakland Athletics outfielder will have one opportunity to lead the Sooners, and expectations are high. While his mobility is useful for designed runs, that may also help Oklahoma handle a bit of inexperience on the offensive line. But there’s so much talent surrounding him that a revamped blocking unit shouldn’t be an issue. The Sooners have a 1,000-yard runner in Rodney Anderson plus two 800-yard receivers in Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb. Expect plenty of points from OU.

Ole Miss Rebels

Even after losing a once-prized quarterback in Shea Patterson, Ole Miss is positioned well to thrive offensively. Jordan Ta’amu had 1,604 yards and 11 touchdowns to only four interceptions in five starts last season, and that was partially a product of a tremendous receiving corps. A.J. Brown amassed 75 catches for 1,252 yards and 11 touchdowns, while both DaMarkus Lodge and D.K. Metcalf had at least 39 catches, 646 yards and seven scores. As a result, the Rebels boast what is arguably the SEC’s best aerial attack. Even if the running game struggles after losing Jordan Wilkins, Ta’amu and Co. will light up scoreboards regularly.

Oregon Ducks

Following a horrible 2016 campaign, Oregon put together a mini-resurgence last season. The problem was Justin Herbert missed five contests due to a broken collarbone, and the Ducks floundered without him. They averaged only 320 yards and 15 points when he was unavailable. Conversely, Oregon posted 56.1 points and nearly 600 yards per game during Herbert’s starts. If that alone isn’t enough to convince you to watch the Ducks, nothing will. His primary targets will be wide receiver Dillon Mitchell and tight end Jacob Breeland, and the backfield will offer a ton of speed in Tony Brooks-James and Taj Griffin, among others.

Penn State Nittany Lions

MIchael Hill Ohio State Buckeyes

Trace McSorley would probably rather have Saquon Barkley alongside, but the rising senior truly has a chance to lead Penn State this season. Since 2016, the dual-threat quarterback has accounted for 75 touchdowns and tallied more than 8,000 yards of total offense. That was before Penn State was really McSorley’s show. Now, he’ll oversee a revamped unit — yet still has the assistance of last year’s No. 2 receiver Juwan Johnson, as well as DeAndre Thompkins. A new coordinator will guide the Nittany Lions in 2018, but the in-house promotion suggests the offense won’t change much. And McSorley has already proved his ability to excel in it.

Stanford Cardinal

If you’ve watched college football for even a half-decade, you know what Stanford wants to do: Run the football, again and again and again. Defenses know too, but they simply can’t stop it. That will definitely be the case in 2018, considering the Cardinal have six offensive linemen with notable starting experience. Oh, and last year, that blocking corps helped Bryce Love set a school record with 2,118 rushing yards and finish second in Heisman Trophy voting. Continuity at quarterback with K.J. Costello will also benefit Stanford, which has a well-rounded group of returning pass-catchers led by JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Trenton Irwin.

Washington Huskies

Although 2017 was relatively disappointing for Jake Browning, an improved offensive line should mask a portion of his issues. Additionally, shifty wideout Chico McClatcher returns from a nasty ankle injury. The result will be another prolific season for the Pac-12 favorites, especially if Myles Gaskin stays healthy. Heading into his senior campaign, the running back has three straight 1,300-yard outputs. Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed both averaged six-plus yards per carry in 2017 and should find even more running lanes this season. The balance of this offense in addition to Chris Petersen’s constantly changing formations will keep defenses guessing.

West Virginia Mountaineers

Will Grier effectively played 10 games before a season-ending finger injury. In those contests, West Virginia recorded at least 492 yards eight times. Few teams moved the ball as effectively as the Mountaineers, who would’ve finished much higher than 20th nationally in total offense had Grier been healthy all year. There’s little reason to expect a change in 2018, considering he’ll still be throwing to David Sills V and Gary Jennings. Sills led the FBS in touchdowns, and Jennings had 97 catches. Plus, Kennedy McKoy gathered 596 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground in a backup role. He’ll solidify an explosive scoring attack.