A look at the recent trend of high-scoring games in college football.
By Conrad Engstrom
University of Dubuque running back Maurece Herrion scored a 40-yard touchdown run with a little over three minutes to play in the fourth quarter. The tenth touchdown of the day from the Spartans put them up on the Bethel University Royals 70-53. In the non-conference contest between Dubuque and Bethel, combined, the record for Division III record for total yards was broken.
Bethel-Dubuque was not the only high scoring game from week one in Division III football. Heading south to Pineville, Louisiana; the Louisiana College Wildcats hosted the Huntingdon College Hawks in a game that combined for 102 points. The Hawks defeated the Wildcats 52-49. Both quarterbacks threw for over 400 yards in the shootout.
Through the first two weeks of the season, 11 teams scored 40 or more points. The 70-53 game against Dubuque was one of the few games in the MIAC non-conference slate to have both teams over 40. In week two, Bethel lost in overtime to Carthage 40-34.
In college football with teams in Division I-FBS and all the small schools that the powerhouses schedule, the scores are going to be high. A good example of that would be when the University of Minnesota defeated Indiana St. 58-28 at TCF Bank Stadium Sept. 10. Minnesota’s 58 points against Indiana St. is great for Gopher fans, but it is unlikely that 58 points will come when they play No. 11 ranked Wisconsin in November.
In Division III, the competition range can be even more widespread and therefore the team scoring the most points is going to be close to winning the Division III title. The two teams that played in the DIII National Championship had no problem scoring last year. Mount Union (53.3 PPG) and St. Thomas (51.3 PPG) met in the Stagg Bowl last year with the highest scoring offense in all of Division III.
In the 2015 season the average MIAC team would score around 33 points per game. That is up from the 2009 season when MIAC teams as a whole averaged around 26 points per game.
“The no huddle offense and coaches trying to increase the tempo has had a big impact on the game,” Bethel University athletic director Bob Bjorklund said. “Because of this the number of plays ran in a game has increased.”
What Bjorklund said is true as in that week one shootout against Dubuque, Bethel ran 100 plays compared to Dubuque’s 78. In week two the Royals ran 86 plays in against Carthage. More plays mean more chances to score.
Now that conference play is in full-swing, the stakes are higher and competition gets tighter. Bethel was defeated on Saturday by Concordia 21-13. While the scores of that game were exponentially lower than those of the previous weeks, just down Snelling No. 4 ranked St. Thomas clobbered the Knights of Carleton 62-10. And down in Northfield, St. John’s shut out St. Olaf 44-0.