Who is the Most Improved College Football Team?

Staff Writers: Harvey Atsma, Kevin Mitchell, Shane Zachos

College football is back and at a very exciting time this year. There are a couple teams that stand out more than they did the previous year and for multiple reasons. Improvement is something teams always try to stride for but this year it is already showing who could be the most improved team across the whole league to give a run for the national championship.

joe burrow

Joe Burrow ready to release a dime – Photo Credit: The Spun

LSU has always been a top 5 team coming out the SEC; however, this year, they look like a top contender for the SEC title. Every year, LSU is looked like as a power mostly because of their defense, but this year the scheme seems a little bit different. Joe Burrow, in his second season at LSU, has already shown a massive improvement from his first season with the Tigers. In Week 2 of the season, on the road, versus a top 10 team (Texas), he threw for 471 yards and 4 touchdowns, including one to seal the game on a third down conversion. Quarterback is the most important position in football and LSU always been a run-first offense, but now they have a weapon to keep opposing defenses guessing. So far, they are averaging 18 points more per game than last season.

On the defense side, the Tigers call themselves DBU, meaning they believe they have the best defensive backs in all of college football. Defense has, in the past couple of years, been LSU’s calling card and the single strongest part of their game. Likewise, this year, LSU is owning up to their roots as they only allow 20 points per game in comparison to the 50 points per game they score. The future of this season is going to be very exciting due to the Tigers’ strength of schedule, explosive offense, lock down defense, and potential to be special.

justin herbert

Herbert in the pocket protected by strong offense line. Photo credit: Sny.tv/news.

Ever since the end of the Marcus Mariota era, people questioned if Oregon would ever have a quarterback that can take over. Justin Herbert has been able to prove his worth since joining the team in 2016. In the 2018 season, he put up impressive numbers with 29 touchdowns and 3,151 passing yards before ending the season prematurely with a broken collar bone.

The 2019 season looked promising for the Ducks after roughly 20 starters decided to stay and not declare for the draft to try and win a national championship. Justin Herbert staying at Oregon another year was a surprise for many because he was projected to be one of the first quarterbacks to be taken off the board in the draft. This decision was beneficial to the Ducks’ offense as Herbert has thrown for 11 touchdowns with no interceptions and almost 1,000 yards in their first three games.

Oregon finished 4th overall in the PAC-12 with a record of 9-4 in the 2018 season. This year, with a talented senior-heavy roster, they will be the favorites to play in the PAC-12 championship. The Ducks displayed their improved team, especially defense, after competing in a tough game versus Auburn in Week 1. They came into first game of the season as underdogs but quickly proved people wrong by taking an early lead and holding it until the fourth quarter before ultimately falling 27-21 to their SEC foe. Oregon was able to show their true potential the following week after they beat Nevada 77-6. The team followed that offensive showcase with a 35-3 beatdown of FCS power Montana, in a game that was not as close as the score may indicate. The 2019 season is looking good for the Ducks so far and they will strive to climb up the rankings.

jalen hurts

Jalen Hurts. Photo Credit: Newsweek

The Oklahoma Sooners, after losing Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray to the NFL, wondered if another quarterback could step up and take the reins. Not long after this, the Sooners received that yet another high-profile transfer QB would be joining the team. Jalen Hurts from Alabama. Hurts was 26-2 as the starter for Alabama and led the team to two National Championship appearances. However, he was also typically looked at as the “weak link” on loaded roster. A “weak link” who accounted for 4,861 passing yards with 40 touchdowns and 10 INTs while rushing for another 1,809 yards and 21 scores in his two seasons as the starter.

Last season, Hurts was benched for Tua Tagovailoa. Hurts has been a star since he stepped on the field with the Sooners. Hurts is leading the team with 880 passing yards and 9 TDs with no INTs through three games. Also, he has completed 80.3 percent of his passes, which is a huge leap for him as accuracy was a primary issue for him at Alabama. He has added 373 yards and four scores on the ground as well.

Oklahoma has improved on defense as well. Last season, the Sooners’ defense was last on the list for top defensive teams. This season they have shown improvement and have surrendered an average of 19.6 points per game through three contests. Kenneth Murray is leading the team with 21 tackles this year and the team has recorded 9 sacks and 4 INTs thus far. Winning their first three games by big numbers, many critics have high hopes that the Sooners could be moved up to one of the top three spots in the nation. With Hurts carrying the weight of being the team captain, many are expecting him to continue his streak of winning with the Sooners and take them to the CFB Championship.

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