Why West Virginia's Big 3 on Offense Are Better Than USC Trojans' Top Weapons

Amy DaughtersFeatured ColumnistSeptember 29, 2012

MORGANTOWN, WV - SEPTEMBER 29:  Stedman Bailey #3 of the West Virginia Mountaineers celebrates his forty seven yard touchdown catch in the first half with Tavon Austin #1 against the Baylor Bears during the game on September 29, 2012 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

After West Virginia’s Week 5 offensive detonation vs. Baylor it’s time to put the Mountaineers' offensive attack right up there with the best in the biz.

Yes, 807 total yards of offense, 70 points and 656 yards of passing yards put West Virginia’s yardage assault, and therefore their skill players, in a different stratosphere than about 99 percent of the rest of the FBS field.

So, how good is West Virgina and how prolific are the Mountaineer “big  three" of QB Geno Smith and receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin?

Well, to illustrate let’s stack them up with USC’s offensive super-trio, who, minus a loss to Stanford in Week 3, would still be getting the lion’s share of the national media’s love.

Comparatively speaking, the numbers stack up nicely between West Virginia and USC because they are both four games into their 2012 slate.

Starting with the QB position we put Matt Barkley’s stats vs. those of Geno Smith and we’ll let the numbers speak for themselves.

Barkley is 61.5 percent accurate through four games, he’s tossed for 1,005 yards, 12 TDs and five picks.

Smith, on the other hand, is 83.4 percent accurate and has lit it up for 1,728 yards, 20 TDs and zero INTs.

No matter how you slice it, Smith beats Barkley in accuracy, yards, scores and the ever-important stat of ball security and decision-making via the INTs number.

Switching to the speedy, good-hands guys we can look at things two different ways.

First, if you combine the receiving stylings of USCs Marqise Lee and Robert Woods vs. that of WVU’s Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, the numbers once again speak clearly.

Lee and Woods have produced 660 yards and 10 scores on a combined 65 catches while Bailey and Austin have posted 1,195 yards and 17 scores on 89 grabs.

If you’re wondering about how they stack up individually, both Bailey’s and Austin’s numbers, standing alone, are better than both Lee's and Woods’ stats.

Straight up the leaderboard betwixt the four is as follows: No. 1 Stedman Bailey (41 catches, 635 yards, 10 TDs), No. 2 Tavon Austin (48 catches, 560 yards, seven scores), No. 3 Marqise Lee (40 catches, 457 yards, six TDs) and No. 4 Robert Woods (25 catches, 203 yards, four scores).

The next qualifier stat that needs to be mentioned in this presentation regards the caliber of defenses that each of these explosive offenses has faced thus far in 2012.

Yes, no serious study of comparative numbers in team sports can be legitimized without analyzing not only what a team did, but who they did it against.

And this just so happens to be the only category that USC has an edge in, albeit a narrow one.

Through five weeks of play, USC has faced FBS defenses that average a ranking of No. 80 in scoring defense while West Virginia has squared off with a slate of FBS foes (throwing out FCS James Madison) that have defenses with an average ranking of No. 95 in scoring defense.

But still, this difference can’t come anywhere near close to explaining the huge gap that lays wide open between the big three offensive weapons at USC and the bigger three at West Virginia.

To make things utterly straightforward, let’s just put the Mountaineer trio’s totals of 2,923 yards and 37 TDs vs. the Trojas trifecta’s 1,665 yards and 22 TDs.

No matter how you slice it, it’s no contest—and the guy with the golden breastplate trumps the dude with the leather pants, at least offensively speaking.