NCAA football scoring average tops 30 points per game, and Gators don’t come close

 

The only disappointment from Jim McElwain’s first two seasons as coach of the Florida Gators has been a serious lack of scoring punch. Now comes statistical confirmation of their subpar status in that area.

According to final statistics released by the NCAA, the per-game average for Div. I football teams in 2016 was a record 30.04 points. Florida missed that average by nearly a touchdown, coming in at 23.9 to rank 107th of 128 schools.

Florida head coach Jim McElwain reacts to a dropped pass by Iowa during the first half of the Outback Bowl NCAA college football game Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
TAMPA – Florida head coach Jim McElwain reacts to a dropped pass by Iowa during the Gators’ Outback Bowl win over Iowa on Jan. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

The problem starts and ends at the quarterback position, an area McElwain has promised to address, though it should be noted that the Gators would be just fine if Will Grier hadn’t selfishly checked out on them with a performance-enhancing substance violation and a transfer to West Virginia.

Imagine, though, how sad the situation would have been without consistently excellent defense at Florida. Takeaways and defensive touchdowns played a major part in the modest scoring that McElwain’s teams have done.

No wonder Florida fans have struggled to fully embrace the new coach in spite of back-to-back SEC East titles under McElwain. Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer sometimes had 30 points by halftime as Gator coaches. In 1996, for instance, Spurrier’s national championship team averaged 47 points per game.

I’m thinking it will get fixed. McElwain’s a bright coach with a long-term plan. Meanwhile, it’s a matter of adjusting to what the rest of America is doing and playing a bit of catch-up along the way.

That’s tough to swallow for a Florida team that won nine games, including the Outback Bowl, but it plays into recruiting and ticket sales and everything else that gets tied to coaching.

If you’re looking for the scoring most of all, the South Florida Bulls are a good season-ticket value.

USF averaged 43.8 points last season, fourth in the nation, and scored 46 in a Birmingham Bowl win over South Carolina. Now the Bulls have Charlie Strong for a head coach, which will only boost the talent there. That spells touchdowns, almost by accident, and it will have to be that way in order to compete in the American Athletic Conference, where Tulsa and Navy and Houston and Temple regularly light it up.

FSU and Miami are above the national scoring average at 35.1 and 34.3 points per game, respectively.

Below average are UCF (28.8 points per game), Florida Atlantic (26.4), Florida International (24.0) and, as previously mentioned Florida.

Only two SEC schools ranked lower on the scoring list than the Gators. One of those teams (South Carolina) has Will Muschamp as its head coach and the other, as if you couldn’t guess, is Vanderbilt.

 

 

Is FSU over South Florida really the best college football win in the state this year?

 

The Florida Gators are in the AP poll’s Top Ten so they must be pretty good.

Why, then, is there the feeling that our state just isn’t all that special in college football anymore?

I attribute it the following chart, which demonstrates better than any deep analysis of roster strengths or coaching credentials why Florida, FSU and Miami aren’t really scaring anybody to death this Halloween, and why the South Florida Bulls deserves a spot in any discussion of the best programs in our state.

Team             Best 2016 win              Last win over ranked team

Florida (6-1)   Kentucky, 45-7               No. 3 Ole Miss (10-3-15)

FSU  (5-3)        South Florida, 55-35     No. 11 Ole Miss (9-5-16)

USF  (7-2)        Navy, 52-45                     No. 22 Navy (10-28-16)

Miami  (4-4)    Ga Tech, 35-21               No. 22 Duke (10-31-15)

UCF (4-4)         East Carolina, 47-29      No. 6 Baylor (1-1-14)

 

What’s the best win of 2016 overall for this bunch? Call if FSU over South Florida. The Seminoles don’t get brownie points for beating Ole Miss in the season opener now that the Rebels are 3-5 and 1-4 in the SEC.

Miami and Central Florida are going to have to scramble to qualify for bowl games.

Florida could win the SEC East or stumble badly down the stretch for the second consecutive season. Flip of the coin.

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher shouts instructions during the second half of the team's NCAA college football game against Clemson in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 29,2016. Clemson defeated Florida State 37-34. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher shouts during game against Clemson in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. Clemson defeated Florida State 37-34. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)

FSU lost 63-20 to Louisville, which would be more easily forgotten if Louisville were going to the ACC title game or the College Football Playoff. Neither is true.

Any way you slice it, we’ve clearly forfeited some of the old bragging rights from championship seasons past.

Right now you’d have to say Alabama is the state-of-the-art state in college football, with the Crimson Tide at No.1 and Auburn No. 11.

Michigan comes in second (Wolverines No. 2 and Western Michigan No. 17).

Incredibly, Washington and Florida are too close to call in third. The Huskies are all the way up to No. 4 with Washington State at No. 25. If you want to argue the No. 10 Gators and No. 19 Seminoles outweigh that combination, go ahead. Look back to that chart above, though. Nothing much has been proved on the field yet.

[Making predictions on Dolphins is a coin-flip proposition this year]

[Tough recognizing America the last time Indians or Cubs won WS]

[Some all-time measurements for Jay Ajayi’s back-to-back 200-yard games]

 

 

FSU coming off horrible loss and that isn’t so great for the South Florida Bulls on Saturday

Don’t expect Florida State to lose a second consecutive game on Saturday. That hasn’t happened to Jimbo Fisher since 2011.

In this Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, photo, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher walks off the field after losing an NCAA college football game against Louisville, while Louisville players prepare to dowse their coach with Gatorade, in Louisville, Ky. (Pat McDonogh/The Courier-Journal via AP)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher walks off the field last Saturday while Louisville players prepare to dowse their coach, Bobby Petrino, with a celebratory Gatorade bath. (Pat McDonogh/The Courier-Journal via AP)

We’re talking 66 games without back-to-back losses. Only Oregon, at 70 games, has gone longer in that category.

Of course, FSU’s 63-20 disaster at Louisville last week was a bonafide shocker. It reset the entire ACC race and had the people who projected the Seminoles in the College Football Playoff field feeling pretty foolish.

There’s no reason why FSU shouldn’t handle 3-0 South Florida this week, though. Jimbo has the team’s full attention now, and the humiliation of losing that way to Louisville will provide plenty of motivation. No team had ever scored 63 on the Seminoles, and that covers all the lean years prior to Bobby Bowden’s arrival at the school.

There were six games last year where the FSU basketball team didn’t allow 63 points, for crying out loud.

[Adam Gase is lagging behind NFL’s other first-time head coaches]

[Tim Tebow tries to blend in with Mets’ Instructional League kids]

[Lamar Jackson could do what no Palm Beach County player ever has]

Reminds me of a few other times, however, when devastating scores were dropped on state teams but the effects were shaken off very quickly.

In 1998, Butch Davis’ Miami Hurricanes took a 66-13 beating at Syracuse in late November. One week later they returned to the Orange Bowl to upset No. 3 UCLA 49-45.

Steve Spurrier had to take his medicine, too, in the national championship game following the 1995 season. Florida came in unbeaten but lost the Fiesta Bowl to Nebraska by the startling score of 62-24.

One year later the Gators won their first national championship, blasting FSU 52-20.

As for FSU’s chances of making the College Football Playoff field and possible a spot in the national championship game at Tampa, consider this.

Ohio State and Oregon played in the inaugural national title game under the new playoff format and they got there after taking surprising losses early in the season. The Buckeyes lost to Virginia Tech in September of 2014 and Oregon lost to Arizona. In each case the opponents were unranked and in each case Ohio State and Oregon were top-10 teams playing at home.

By that measure, losing to No. 10 Louisville on the road shouldn’t disqualify FSU from anything at this point. Let’s see how the rest of the ACC season plays out.

Louisville plays at Clemson on Oct. 1. Four weeks later Clemson is at FSU.

Now if you want to argue the other side of this thing, looking at FSU’s 6-4 record in its last 10 games as the sign of a serious decline, this South Florida game is the real litmus test. It was a 17-7 September loss to the Bulls in Tampa that ultimately convinced everyone that 2009 should be Bowden’s final season.

My view is that Jimbo has got things tightened down a lot better than that. Louisville is going to make a lot of teams look bad this year. Suddenly they’re a national title contender.

The Seminoles have nine more games, including dates with Miami and Florida, to prove that they are, too.