Ranking the Top 10 College Football Offenses in 2021

By Dan Vasta in Sports
| August 11, 2021 6:00 am PDT

Getting fans back for the 2021 NCAA football season ahead should be a blast. The fans could make a dramatic impact on the games this season. The players feed off the energy from the crowd, and many have never played in front of one yet.

The top college football offenses are always must-see television. The number of explosive weapons at running back and wide receiver makes it tough to limit the list to just 10.

Quarterbacks nowadays are the best athletes on the field, making it an albatross to prepare. Most teams in the Power Five are the top teams, but I threw in a non-Power Five team among my top offenses.

Without further ado, here are my college football offense rankings for 2021.

10. USC Trojans

Kedon Slovis

There is a consistent theme among the most explosive offenses in the country. The quarterback position is the way to make this list, and Kedon Slovis has the skills to lead this squad to the College Football Playoff.

Slovis is not the best athlete but has done a better job at taking care of the football.

Turnovers are a crucial part of the game, and Slovis has been accurate throwing to his top targets.

Bru McCoy, Gary Bryant, KD Nixon, and Drake London could torch the Pac-12 this season. London is a beast at 6-5, 215-pounds. He was north of 15 yards per catch and is a red-zone machine.

The weakness of this program over the years has been its blocking. They need to improve upon the offensive line. The inability to dominate the line of scrimmage has been costly at the worst of times. Former Longhorn Keontay Ingram will likely see the most touches in the backfield, but Vavae Malepeai can bring the pain as a heavy north-south runner.

The hope is they can improve upon their 2020 Pac-12 title game loss. USC should be improved, with four starters returning on the line. Plus, USC can become one of the more explosive units in the nation with a star-studded quarterback in Slovis.

9. Miami Hurricanes

The year was 2003, and Ken Dorsey was no longer in Coral Gables. Fast forward to 2021, and 2003 remains the last time the program finished a season in the Top 10.

It’s been a rough ride.

Most Recent Top 10 Miami Finishes 2003 2002 2001
Rank Fifth Second First

On top of that, the quarterback play has been suspect up until last year.

D’Eriq King has been a godsend for the program since transferring over from Houston. The dual-threat quarterback has improved as a pocket passer, building a rapport with the top targets on the squad.

We know the legs of King should still be a threat even after ACL surgery, but the addition of an Oklahoma Sooner will likely help the Canes.

Charleston Rambo brings over 1,000-plus career yards to the passing attack, which will help free up other options for King. Tight end Will Mallory looks like the next NFL option that will impact the game. Jeremiah Payton, Mike Harley, Mark Pope, and Dee Wiggins will surely help the offense.

The entire team is nearly back, and the top nine pass-catchers from last season also return. That keeps this offense in contention for being the most explosive in college football in 2021.

The run game is the x-factor that could turn the Canes into an ACC champion.

King and Cam’Ron Harris are a formidable duo in the backfield that should lead the way. All five linemen are returning, and there is a chance they will be an elite unit.

The opener against Alabama will be challenging, and it will be a pivotal moment of their season. The non-conference showdown made our list of top games to watch in Week 1.

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8. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

Jamey Chadwell won the AP Coach of the Year after those Chanticleers ended up 11-1 with a Top 10 ranking throughout the season. This program was in the FCS for the entirety of its history before the past handful of seasons.

They were underdogs to Kansas last year, where the Jayhawks were knocked off by 15 in a game that was not as close as the scoreboard indicated. Grayson McCall deserves most of the credit since he was a touchdown machine throughout the season. He reached 33 total scores in 12 games, and more will be on the way in 2021.

The passing options will be quite the delight to toss the pigskin around in Conway this fall.

Isaiah Likely is a monster of a tight end at 6-4, 250-pounds. The future NFL player had 601 yards last season on 30 catches. Tight ends should not be able to have the skills that he possesses. Jaivon Heiligh is another big target for McCall to connect. We saw the tandem hook up for ten touchdowns last season, which will likely increase this upcoming season.

The ability to run with McCall allows the offense to remain a balanced attack, but Reese White should eclipse the 1,000-yard mark after falling short of 500 in 2020.

We should expect a committee with Shermari Jones and McCall having a few keepers to keep the defenses honest.

Averaging over 37 points a game last season was impressive, but they may be north of 40 with a schedule that will be there to dominate.

7. North Carolina Tar Heels

Sam Howell

Sam Howell enters the season as a potential Heisman winner. Being on a Top 10 team with College Football Playoff aspirations surely helps.

The squad will once again rely heavily on the arm of Howell. The ability to easily thread the needle has given Chapel Hill the joy they have not seen in seemingly forever.

Howell is a player that has pocket presence when pressure comes. He can escape any pass rush with his quick feet, making him even more valuable to the team. Howell is not known for running over defenders, but he can run for first downs when the opportunity presents itself.

We have seen records shatter when No. 7 is under center. The team is never out of a game, regardless of the weapons around.

Playing in the first-ever Orange Bowl for North Carolina was fun, but potentially competing for a national title is next-level greatness.

The Tar Heels will have expectations to become an elite squad this season, and the pieces around Howell make this one of the better offenses in America.

Ty Chandler, the former Tennessee Volunteer, is capable of rushing for 1,500 yards this season. He has a solid blend of size and speed, but there is capable depth behind him.

Josh Henderson and DJ Jones are next in line, but there is a more underrated unit on the team.

The offensive line brings back all five starters from a season ago. The line should become one of the better units in college football. Marcus McKethan and Joshua Ezedu can each play Sunday football, and they will keep Howell clean throughout the season.

Josh Downs, Beau Corrales, and Khafre Brown bring a balance of speed, size, and athleticism that will make life difficult on the rest of the ACC. Mack Brown has hit all the right buttons with Howell under center, and we should expect nothing less in 2021.

6. Clemson Tigers

The quarterbacks that have played at Death Valley have been utterly sensational. Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence were world-beaters, and now many have faith in DJ Uiagalelei to become a superstar.

He has Jameis Winston-like arm strength, size, swagger, and pocket presence.

Clemson has become the best program outside of Alabama at the wide receiver position. The return of Justyn Ross is a plus for the program. They likely would be an elite unit without him, but he makes them arguably the best in America.

EJ Williams, Joseph Ngata, Frank Ladson, and tight end Braden Galloway are all potential NFL performers for a school known for producing next level talent.

Clemson NFL selections on offense 2021 2020 2017-2019
Last three seasons 5 3 6

The size, speed, and athleticism are tough to defend. You cannot double every player, and Uiagalelei is mobile enough to buy time when pressure comes.

The offensive line has quietly gotten the job done after having issues early on in the Dabo Swinney era. Swinney is 18-3 atop the polls as a coach, and there will be more opportunities shortly.

The matchup that everybody wants to catch is the Tigers season opener in Charlotte against Georgia. Both squads have been among the top five defenses and offenses in the nation. Some feel that will be a preview of the national title, but the overall speed on the field that night will be outstanding.

5. Ole Miss Rebels

Are you surprised to see this squad at 5th in these 2021 college football offense rankings? Oxford has not had an offense of this caliber since Chad Kelly led them to the Sugar Bowl in 2015-16. It featured great-skill players under Hugh Freeze.

Lane Kiffin is now in Oxford, and the roster has elite speed. The high-tempo offense has made it impossible to limit the chunk plays. We saw that in their Outback upset victory over Indiana.

Matt Corral was a stud last season, and he is a dark horse pick to win the Heisman. He will blaze past defenders but can also throw for 400 yards on any given Saturday.

He also could break some Ole Miss records in 2021.

Stat Ole Miss Single-Season Record Matt Corral in 2020
Passing Yards 4,042 – Chad Kelly (2015) 3,337
Total Offense 4,542 – Chad Kelly (2015) 3,843
Total Touchdowns 41 – Chad Kelly (2015) 33

The offensive line has experience with both tackles protecting Corral, but there is even more speed in the backfield. Jerrion Ealy did not play in the Outback Bowl, and they still had success running the ball due to tempo and the legs Corral has shown.

Ealy is a potential NFL back due to the tremendous speed shown when healthy. He may not demand 20-plus touches a game, but there is depth behind him. Snoop Conner and Henry Parrish combined for over 100 yards in the bowl game victory over Indiana.

The receivers will be in great shape. Despite losing Elijah Moore, the Rebels will remain productive. Jonathan Mingo, Dontario Drummond, and Braylon Sanders are all capable of taking over a game. We even saw backup quarterback John Rhys Plumlee haul in crucial catches from Corral in the Outback matchup.

This team has so many different ways they can beat you offensively. The Rebels could win nine-plus games with the avoidance of both Georgia and Florida from the East.

4. Alabama Crimson Tide

Nick Saban never had elite Crimson Tide offenses right away but has since adjusted over the last decade-plus. It is unbelievable and a bit surreal how potent they have been. The offense has been loaded with NFL stars every season.

Alabama has had an NFL tandem starting at wide receiver for a few seasons in a row. Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith, and now John Metchie. The options are endless in Tuscaloosa.

The quarterback play has also been disappointing, but many are unsure how well Bryce Young will play against the top defenses in the SEC. Another season approaches for Alabama with another top-five offensive line.

They’ve regularly sent a plethora of offensive starters to the NFL.

Offensive Draft Picks 2021 2020 2019
Alabama Stars 8 4 5

Needless to say, you know the Crimson Tide will be stacked and should bring it offensively.

Brian Robinson is next in line for the most carries, but he will share the workload with other backs. Jase McClellan and Trey Sanders are all highly touted backs that will answer the call.

The expectations are so lofty that anything short of an undefeated regular season without a trip to the SEC title is considered a disaster.

Luckily, Alabama has safely reached the SEC title game in five of the last seven seasons. Expect the elusive legs of Young to help him grow and have more consistency despite a challenging schedule ahead.

3. Georgia Bulldogs

The SEC offenses keep winning ball games due to star-studded signal-callers. There is a bevy of options every season. Ole Miss, Alabama, Florida, and LSU have had some superstar quarterbacks in recent memory.

Georgia is looking to join the party. Jake Fromm was a solid passer, but bringing in JT Daniels could bring them that coveted national title. In search of their first title since 1980, this current elite program has seen more heartbreak than an episode on The Bachelorette.

Daniels is hopeful to give his receivers all the roses in the world this season. The possibility of a return of George Pickens would be instrumental for the unit. Pickens has first-round ability but suffered a possible season-ending injury earlier in the offseason. Even if he is out for the season, the unit will be among the better ones in the SEC.

This program has been dominant in the regular season under Kirby Smart due to its ability to control the line of scrimmage. Just look at their offensive rank over the last three years.

Season 2020 2019 2018
Rank/Points Per Game No. 38 (32.3) No. 50 (30.8) No. 14 (37.9)

Georgia has the talent to thrive again this season.

They have a top 10 backfield with an elite offensive line paving the way. Zamir White can break tackles and have the sea part in the second and third levels of the defense. He has plenty of help behind him too.

Georgia’s backfield has become a cheat code. Kendall Milton and James Cook (brother of NFL star Dalvin), and Kenny McIntosh are three players that could start on several other Power Five schools. The quartet is arguably the best in college football.

Thanks to a soft schedule, the Bulldogs could feast on the competition, and the scoreboard will reflect that. Georgia could turn into one of the most explosive offenses this season after Daniels was able to play in a handful of games (knee) last year.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

How can an offense without any career pass attempts for the first time since 1952 be the number two offense in the nation?

Welcome to Columbus, where skill players grow on trees, and production is like playing a video game against a toddler.

The never-ending supply of talent at the disposal of Ryan Day is a way to live. He has quickly turned into an elite coach and made our top 10 coaches in college football.

Ohio State has two future NFL wide receivers in Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave who should decimate the Big Ten. Just look at what they did last year.

Player Catches Receiving Yards YPC Touchdowns
Garrett Wilson 43 723 16.8 6
Chris Olave 50 729 14.6 7

Garrett Wilson is a human highlight-reel at receiver, and Chris Olave catches more touchdowns than any Buckeye (12 in 2019), perhaps ever.

The dynamic duo of Wilson and Olave is easily the best in college football. Both could be the top two receivers taken in the 2022 NFL Draft. Both can take the top off a defense, but neither lacks in the route tree either.

The quarterback could bring some drama if they play musical chairs. They need to decide by Week 2 against Oregon. CJ Stroud is one of the top five Heisman favorites, so many believe he is the clear-cut starter. At 6-3, he has the size to connect with all the elite options on the roster.

The backfield has the top back out of high school on campus. Treveyon Henderson might be the next great Buckeye, and he replaces Trey Sermon.

Sermon went bonkers against Clemson, rushing for 193 yards on 31 carries. Master Teague has been a reliable backup bruising tailback for a few seasons now.

It has also helped that Ohio State has arguably the best offensive line in the country. They have been in the running almost every season for years now. That has enabled a new quarterback most of these years to turn into a star-studded Buckeye legend.

Stroud, Jack Miller, and Kyle McCord could all start and lead this Ohio State team to a conference title. The talent is arguably better than every team in the nation if the quarterback position performs well.

1. Oklahoma Sooners

Spencer Rattler

The Sooners offense has been simply flawless in the Big 12 conference since Lincoln Riley has taken over.

We have seen four elite quarterbacks lead them to a conference title, and Oklahoma will be looking for a seventh straight conference title with Spencer Rattler under center.

The dominance has been remarkable, but the credit belongs to the top quarterback whisperer in the country. Riley can hand the keys to nearly any signal-caller, and success will occur.

This team is full of studs, and the offensive line might be the best in the nation.

Tyrese Robinson and Erik Swenson are two stud linemen, and they will keep Rattler clean in the pocket. He sure excelled to close out the 2020 college football season.

Look at what he did down the stretch,

Opponent Yards Touchdowns Result
Florida 287 4 W, 55-20
Iowa State 289 2 W, 27-21
Baylor 193 2 W, 27-14
Oklahoma State 315 5 W, 41-13

The video game-like numbers he projects to post could be similar to Jalen Hurts, Baker Mayfield, and Kyler Murray.

In the shortened 2020 season, Rattler combined for 34 total touchdowns in 11 games. He played great football down the stretch and could lead the Sooners to the College Football Playoff if he keeps it up.

Understandably, Rattler enters the new year as one of the best college football quarterbacks in 2021.

Many believe this Sooners offense is good enough to carry them to their first national title since 2001.

The Sooners will likely blow the roof off a few more teams with a fantastic group of targets. Marvin Mims, Austin Stogner, Mario Williams, Theo Wease, and Jadon Haselwood are fully capable of becoming studs. Mims is the most proven and could be a candidate to win the Biletnikoff Award, given to the best wide receiver.

Overall, the program is 0-4 in the College Football Playoff at 18 points on average per loss.

Talented offenses like the Sooners not only need to reach the playoff but finally get a win before they waste another potent offense. The fireworks display that the offense can put on should allow them to have their best opportunity in years.

More Great College Football Offenses for 2021

  • Liberty Flames
  • Texas A&M Aggies
  • Oregon Ducks
  • Iowa State Cyclones
  • Kent State Golden Flashes
  • Boston College Eagles

There are a lot of explosive offenses in the NCAA ranks. However, the teams above just weren’t good enough to make my top 10 college football offenses for 2021.

That doesn’t mean they can’t prove me wrong, though.

The number of star-studded offenses has been increasing with each new college season. The quarterback position comes with a ton of expectations and pressure. Every team on this list has a stud passer that is capable of winning the Heisman. Even Grayson McCall of Coastal Carolina could post flashy numbers.

Three SEC squads made the cut list, but it is not all about their quarterbacks. All three can run the ball with authority and explosion. The best offenses in college football can strike quickly.

Many of these teams will score on five players or fewer. Building the perfect pieces around a team can translate into video games numbers that the fans go bonkers over. This season will be one of the most entertaining years, and these offenses are worthy of plenty of attention.

You can’t have the top 10 college football offenses for 2021 without the top players. To gear up for the new season, be sure to check out the most explosive offensive players in college football.

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