Chuck Landon: MU, WVU standing out in FBS, statistically
Forget the New York Times best-sellers.
There is nothing on that stellar list of books that is piquing the literary interests of West Virginia-based sports fans as much as another piece of prose.
The must-read in the Mountain State?
It's the NCAA's weekly national statistics featuring the rankings of the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision members.
Guess who is inexplicably linked at the top of the offensive statistics?
The state of West Virginia's only two FBS programs, Marshall and West Virginia University, that's who.
And guess who is equally enigmatically linked at the bottom of the defensive statistics?
That's right, the Herd and Mountaineers again.
At least statistically, it's as though the Marshall and WVU football programs were fraternal twins separated at birth.
Just peruse the NCAA statistical categories.
Passing: Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato leads the nation with 37.4 completions per game. And who is No. 2? Why, none other than WVU's Geno Smith at 35.25.
Passing Yards Per Game: Smith leads the country with 432.0 yards. Cato is No. 3 at 384.0.
Total Passing Yards: Cato is No. 1 with 1,920 yards, followed by Smith at No. 2 with 1,728.
Total Receptions: Marshall's Tommy Shuler tops the country with 51 catches. WVU's Tavon Austin is second with 48.
Receptions Per Game: Austin is No. 1 with 12.0, followed by WVU teammate Stedman Bailey at No. 2 with 10.24 and Shuler at No. 3 with 10.20.
Receiving Yards Per game: Bailey ranks No. 2 with 158.75, followed by Austin at No. 3 (140.0) and Shuler at No. 12 (106.8).
Total Receiving Yards: Bailey is No. 2 with 635. Austin at No. 6 and Shuler at No. 9 trail with 560 and 534 yards, respectively.
Passing Offense: WVU leads the nation with 441.50 yards per game. Marshall is No. 3 with 394.60.
Scoring Offense: WVU is No. 3 at 53.0 points per game, while Marshall is No. 18 at 41.0.
Total Offense: WVU is No. 3 with an average of 598.5 yards, while Marshall is No. 6 with 555.6.
First Downs: Marshall ranks fifth (30.6 per game), followed by WVU at No. 10 (27.75).
Third Down Conversions: WVU leads the country with a 60.87 percent success rate. Marshall is No. 11 at 54.02 percent.
Red Zone Offense: WVU is No. 9 at 94 percent (16 of 17). MU is No. 11 at 93 percent (25 of 27).
Then, there are the woebegone defensive stats.
Passing Defense: WVU ranks No. 118 (out of 120), allowing 495.8 yards per game. MU is No. 92 at 271.0 yards.
Total Defense: MU is No. 115 (495.8 yards allowed per game), while WVU is No. 106 (474.0).
Scoring Defense: Marshall is last in the country (120th), yielding 44.4 points per game. WVU is No. 94 (32.5 points).
Pass Efficiency Defense: WVU is No. 109 (154.2), while MU is No. 98 (146.19).
First Downs Defense: MU is No. 116 allowing 27.6 per game. WVU is No. 100 at 23.75.
Third Down Conversion: MU is No. 108, getting off the field just 48.53 percent of the time. WVU is No. 102 at 50.65 percent.
So, does any other state have two major colleges producing offensive numbers as high and defensive numbers as low?
Only West Virginia.
Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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