The football offseason rolls on, and the Lineups team has you covered with plenty of preseason content. Check out the rest of our site for live odds, previews, futures articles, and much more. In this article, you can find a breakdown of the top offenses in college football for the 2023 season.
Top Ten College Football Offenses 2023
Defenses might win championships, but offenses make the highlights and there are plenty of highlight reels waiting to happen with the collection of offensive talent across the country. These are mostly projections based on the current assembly of coaches and players, but I used last year’s statistics as a baseline.
Writing articles like this is always fun because it’s impossible to make everyone happy. I invite you to direct any and all frustrations to my Twitter account @wayne_sports_. In the meantime, enjoy my breakdown of what I see as the top ten offenses in the country for this upcoming college football season.
#1: Ohio State Buckeyes
While the quarterback position is a question mark for Ohio State, the Buckeyes bring back Marvin Harrison Jr. after a masterful season in which he caught 77 passes for 1,263 yards and 14 touchdowns. Emeka Egbuka is overshadowed by his running mate, but he has NFL first-round talent of his own, and Julian Fleming rounds out the best wide receiver trio in the country.
While Kyle McCord gets acclimated as the new starting quarterback, expect Ohio State to lean on its elite running back tandem in Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson. Williams led the way with 14 touchdowns last year, and while Henderson is coming off a down year, expect a bounceback from the top RB prospect in the 2021 recruiting class.
The Buckeyes have some work to do in replenishing their offensive line, especially after tackles Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones were both early NFL draft picks. However, there’s a strong foundation for success with high-level recruits across the line. Expect Ryan Day and new offensive coordinator Brian Hartline to lead a powerhouse offense this year.
#2: USC Trojans
Caleb Williams is ready to torch the college football landscape once again after a Heisman campaign in his sophomore year. Williams finished with 42 passing touchdowns last year, the most in the country, and 4,537 passing yards, the third-most. The connection between Williams and head coach Lincoln Riley is a guarantee for fireworks every Saturday.
While USC saw leading receiver Jordan Addison become a first-round pick in the NFL, they brought back Tahj Washington, Mario Williams, and Brenden Rice, all of whom had over 600 receiving yards in 2022. Fifth-year senior Austin Jones is also expected to make a big impact after he averaged 123.2 yards from scrimmage in the final five games of the 2022 season.
USC’s offensive line was elite last season, ranking fourth in average line yards and 42nd in sack rate allowed per Football Outsiders. Three starters from last year have moved on, but USC went to work in the transfer portal and brought in Michael Tarquin (Florida), Emmanuel Pregnon (Wyoming), and Jarrett Kingston (Washington State), all of whom are expected to start this season.
#3: Michigan Wolverines
Michigan secured a huge win in the offseason when Heisman-caliber running back Blake Corum opted out of the NFL draft and decided to return for his senior season. Corum had over 1,500 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns in 12 games before suffering his ACL injury. He and Donovan Edwards make up arguably the best running back room in the country.
The Wolverines will be a run-first team once again, but senior wideouts Cornelius Johnson and Roman Wilson are steadying presences while sophomore tight end Colston Loveland has shown massive upside. Michigan is also once again loaded on the offensive line with high-level transfers LaDarius Henderson, Drake Nugent, and Myles Hinton entering the fold alongside a handful of NFL caliber talents.
The upside for Michigan’s offense this season comes down to J.J. McCarthy. The junior quarterback was steady if unexciting last year, but new quarterbacks coach Kirk Campbell could help him elevate his play. If given a longer leash this season, McCarthy could enter the Heisman conversation and push Michigan’s offense to another level.
#4: Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia enters the 2023 season with some major question marks as quarterback Carson Beck replaces Stetson Bennett and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo replaces Todd Monken. With Bennett and Monken both off to the NFL, there’s room for a significant downgrade in the Georgia offense this season.
Luckily, the Bulldogs still have plenty of elite talent on that side of the ball, starting with an offensive line that was top ten in run and pass blocking last year per PFF. Broderick Jones and Warren McClendon are off to the NFL, but three starters return and former five-star recruit Amarius Mims could be the next first round tackle from the school.
The skill groups are deep and talented, as well. Seniors Kendall Milton and Daijun Edwards return to lead a deep backfield. Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey are back after phenomenal 2022 seasons. They’re joined by transfers Dominic Lovett (Missouri) and RaRa Thomas (Mississippi State) who led their respective teams in receiving last year.
#5: Tennessee Volunteers
In Josh Heupel’s second season as head coach in Knoxville, everything came together for his offense as the Vols led the nation with 46.1 points and 525.5 yards per game. There has been plenty of turnover this offseason, though, starting with the quarterback position as Joe Milton, who started in the team’s Orange Bowl win over Clemson, replaces Hendon Hooker who is off to the NFL.
Milton has plenty of upside after ten touchdowns and no interceptions in limited action last season. He’ll be backed up by five-star freshman Nico Iamaleava whose elite traits will make it hard to keep him off the field. To help protect their quarterbacks, the Vols bring back three of their five starting offensive linemen from last year.
While Tennessee lost Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman, two of their top three wide receivers, to the NFL, they brought back Bru McCoy and Ramel Keyton who will lead the wide receiver room this season. Their two leading rushers from last season, Jaylen Wright and Jabari Small, also return after combining for 25 touchdowns.
#6: Oregon Ducks
Any SEC fan would have snickered at the idea of Bo Nix being in the Heisman conversation last season, but he was brilliant in his first year in Eugene. Nix threw for over 3,500 yards and 29 touchdowns while adding another 510 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. Nix reportedly had his “mind blown” by Will Stein, the team’s new offensive coordinator, which is a great sign for the team this season.
Nix will be supported by an offensive line that led the country in sacks allowed last year. The starting lineup shuffled this offseason, but the tackle tandem might be the best in the country – 2022 five-star recruit Josh Conerly has enormous upside and Rhode Island transfer Ajani Cornelius was the third-highest graded tackle in the FCS last year per PFF.
A dynamic trio of running backs – Bucky Irving, Noah Whittingham, and Jordan James – return after combining for over 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns. Meanwhile, a deep receiving room is led by Troy Franklin, a receiver with NFL first round upside coming off a breakout campaign with 891 yards and nine touchdowns.
#7: Washington Huskies
In Kalen DeBoer’s first year as the Washington head coach, the Huskies’ offense surged on its way to 515.8 yards per game, the second-most in the country. Washington boasts Ryan Grubb, one of the best offensive coordinators in the country, leading Michael Penix Jr. in one of the most efficient passing games in the country.
Penix led the Power Five with 4,641 passing yards last year and led an offense that finished third in EPA per play behind only USC and Tennessee. The Huskies support him with the receiving tandem of Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan, who combined for over 2,200 receiving yards last year and are both NFL talents.
Washington’s offensive line had the fewest tackles for loss allowed and second-fewest sacks allowed last year, but it needs to replace all three starters on the interior. Tackles Tony Fautanu and Roger Rosengarten return with all-conference upside, however, and they’ll be paving the way for Cameron Davis, who led the team with 13 rushing touchdowns last season.
#8: LSU Tigers
We weren’t sure what to expect from former Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels in the SEC, but he quickly took to Mike Denbrock’s system and played the best ball of his career. Daniels led the team with 2,913 passing yards, 885 rushing yards, and 28 combined touchdowns. Daniels will fend off Garrett Nussmeier, a former four-star recruit with great long-term upside.
The Tigers bring back Malik Nabers, a first-round caliber talent who is coming off a season with over 1,000 yards. Tight end Mason Taylor and wide receivers Brian Thomas Jr. and Kyren Lacy round out the talented pass-catching group. LSU’s running backs don’t get to shine with how often Daniels runs the ball, but Noah Cain and Josh Williams headline a very capable backfield.
LSU’s offensive line struggled somewhat in 2022, mostly as a result of being very young, but now it returns four starters including true sophomores Will Campbell and Emery Jones, both of whom have future NFL potential. A big jump in productivity from the offensive line should be expected in Death Valley.
#9: Wisconsin Badgers
The tide is turning in Madison. After years of ball control, run-heavy offense, the Badgers have turned over the reins to offensive coordinator Phil Longo, who is tasked with implementing his Air Raid offense. Former SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai will run the offense after throwing for 72 touchdowns to 21 interceptions across his two seasons as a starter.
Mordecai will be throwing to a receiving corps that returns its top three producers from 2022, including Chimere Dike who led the team with 689 yards and six touchdowns. The Badgers also added plenty of pass-catching talent in the transfer portal.
While the offense will be higher tempo and more explosive, junior running back Braelon Allen will still be the focus after over 2,500 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns in his first two seasons.
#10: Kansas Jayhawks
If you told me this time last year that Kansas would be a top ten offense heading into 2023, I wouldn’t have believed you, but Lance Leipold has turned the Jayhawks around in quick order. Jalon Daniels is a superhero at quarterback who suffered through a shoulder injury last year and still threw for 18 touchdowns to just four interceptions in nine games.
Daniels is supported by an offensive line that brought back Dominick Puni and Mike Novitsky – two All-Big 12 talents – on the interior. They’ll pave the way for Devin Neal, who finished last season with over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns. All of the team’s top six receivers from last year return including all-star caliber tight end Mason Fairchild.
Kansas’s offense finished 12th in offensive FEI last year despite Daniels missing four games. If he can stay healthy, this could be the best offense in the Big 12. I wouldn’t go as far as to bet on Daniels for the Heisman, but his mobility and downfield accuracy give Kansas enormous offensive potential in 2023.