Five breakthrough offenses

Alabama, Texas, Notre Dame, Michigan, Wisconsin poised for big seasons

Updated: July 29, 2013, 12:55 PM ET
By Brad Edwards | ESPN Insider

A.J. McCarronDale Zanine/USA TODAY SportsAJ McCarron was arguably the most efficient passer in the nation last season.

All good college football programs have an identity.

Several teams, such as Oregon, Texas A&M and half of the Big 12 have established their identities on the offensive side of the ball. Nobody questions whether those units will score a lot of points. That much is taken for granted.

There are other teams which play good offense, but aren't necessarily known for it. Because they don't break the 40-point barrier on a regular basis, these teams' strengths typically show up in efficiency statistics more than in conventional ones.

The following five squads fit that mold in 2012. They were much better offensively than most people realized, and because of returning experience, there are good reasons to believe they'll have breakthrough seasons on offense in 2013.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Nobody questions the Crimson Tide's recent track record, but many college football fans have yet to recognize that Alabama excels on more than one side of the ball. On Twitter, and even in the hallways at ESPN, I still read and hear suggestions that Alabama is a pedestrian offensive team and "can't score."

That could be attributed to the Tide having such a strong defensive identity. I'm sure some of that opinion is residue from the 9-6 loss to LSU in 2011, but it might also be a result of so many people being conditioned to look at the wrong statistics.

• Analyzes college football and the CFB Playoff as part of ESPN's Stats & Information Group
• Analyst for both College GameDay on ESPN Radio and the ESPN College Football app