MORGANTOWN - Say what you will about West Virginia's struggle to win football games this season. Blame it on coaching or effort or defensive lapses or offensive inconsistency.
Depending upon your point of view, you've likely touched on one or all of those. So has Mountaineer coach Dana Holgorsen.
But as a team that was the overwhelming choice to win the Big East limps into its final three games just hoping to hang on, the offense ranks No. 12 in the country in total yards and the defense is No. 23 in yards allowed.
Take a guess at how many teams in the current Associated Press Top 25 have a better combined ranking in offense and defense than West Virginia. We'll give you a moment while we play the "Jeopardy" theme.
Do di do do-do-do di do, do di do di do; do-do-do-do-do ...
Give up? There are only four schools in the country that have a better combined ranking in total offense and total defense than does West Virginia's No. 35 (12 plus 23). Wisconsin, ranked No. 16, is ninth in total offense and 11th in total defense (20). Stanford (a combined No. 26), Alabama (31) and Boise State (also 26), ranked Nos. 3 through 5, are the others.
The top two teams in the country, No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Oklahoma State, have a combined offense-defense rank of 90 and 113, respectively (LSU is No. 87 in offense and OSU No. 113 in defense). Aside from WVU and the four teams mentioned, no other Top 25 team has a combined offense-defense rank in the top 40. Somehow, No. 17 Kansas State and No. 24 Auburn each have a combined rank of No. 164.
Cincinnati, WVU's opponent this week, is No. 41 in total offense and No. 48 in defense for a combined total of 89.
Now granted, those numbers don't necessarily mean a lot and can be explained away in a lot of cases. Take LSU, for example. With a defense ranked No. 3, does it really matter that the Tigers are offensively challenged? And if Oklahoma State can score 100 points a game, is a wretched defense really that much of a burden?
Still, there is something to be said for being able to play both sides of the ball. Fifteen of those Top 25 teams are at least in the top half of the NCAA's statistical rankings in both total offense and total defense. Of the 10 that are not, seven make up for deficiencies on one side of the ball by ranking in the top 10 on the other.
Yet there is West Virginia, statistically in the 80th percentile in both - and one of just four teams in the country that ranks in the Top 25 of both (along with Wisconsin, Stanford and Boise) - languishing near irrelevancy.
The problem, of course, is obvious but still worth pointing out. There is more to the game than moving the ball and stopping movement. Two things above all others can render those numbers immaterial.