Hey now, jk. Let's be fair. MC might have ranked 93rd in total defense last season, and the USAC might not be a power conference, but they did have some dang good offenses.
38. LaGrange (LaGrange had number one passing offense)
OK, here's my question because, again, these stats don't exist in a vacuum. We know the USASC is a middle of the road conference, right? There just isn't much debate about that. So what is more likely, 3 of the most potent offenses in the country exist in a single mediocre conference, or that mediocre conference has three pretty good offensive teams and a whole lot of bad defense? Because if the offenses for these three teams were really top tier for D3, why would these three teams have gone 4-4 in out of conference games?
Stats have to be thought about in their context, not just in their absolutes. That is extremely important when dealing with D3 with so little crossover. For example, W&L had the #2 rushing attack in the country. Pretty good right? Umm... not that great when you consider they never throw. Springfield had the #1 rushing attack. They must be a power right? We know rushing leads to opening up defenses right? Not really, they hardly ever throw either. That stat, like others that have been tossed around here, just aren't relevant without context.
As for HSC being an elite offense last year, it's just a stretch for me. You can be very good and not be elite, which HSC was. Against an elite defense that finally played the last 42 minutes of the Linfield game HSC literally went nowhere. It's right there in the game stats. That's not a knock on HSC being very good, but you can't go 42 minutes of a game against an elite team and get less than 100 yards and say you have an elite offense. It's just common sense. Was HSC good? Very good? Yes to both. Were they the top 2 or 3% offense in D3? The top 10 teams? No. Gaudy stats against mediocre competition doesn't confer elite status. Elite stats against very good and elite competition gives you elite status.
If you want to play with stats, HSC finished 31st in total offense. Very, very good. Top 10% of D3. Teams above them that played better competition consistently? Mount, Heidelberg, Morrisville St, Johns Hopkins, Wis-Platteville, North Central, Linfield, UMHB, Bethel, Hardin-Simmons, Gettysburg, ETBU, Augsburg, and John Carroll. All 14 of these teams played in a better conference and had more total offense. HSC finished 75th in 3rd down conversions. That's behind 3 teams in the ODAC alone. 39th in passing completions. Yeah, they throw a lot and they are good at it, but are they top 10 good? No. Did you know HSC tied for 216th for interceptions? They throw a lot, so in context it's understandable, but is it elite to finish that low in an offensive stat?
How about flat out passing offense? That's what the Tigers are known for so they must be top 10, right? No. They are an extremely good 18th, but not top 10. Teams like Wis-Platteville, John Carroll, Dubuque, and ETBU all ranked higher against consistently better competition.
What is the point of all this? Not much. HSC is incredibly good offensively. Are they elite? I think there is ample evidence to suggest they weren't one of the 10 best teams in the country last year. Will they be this year? Don't know, but they have an awfully good shot. At the end of the year we can revisit, but you have Tiger blinders on if you ignore the losses to CNU and Shenandoah and you don't realize what actually happened in the Linfield game. Does that take away from HSC's brilliant season and the huge win against Maryville? No. But it doesn't make them elite either unless you make elite large enough to be a distinction without meaning.
Elite teams are truly special across all of D3. I just don't believe HSC is there. Last year they were the best in the ODAC and got a very favorable match up for a 2 loss team. We probably aren't having this conversation if they travel to Hobart, Wesley, UMU, JHU, UMHB or any of the other places a 2 loss team from the ODAC has typically gone. A very good team and a dash of luck, it made for a great season.