Once Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion arrived in the palace of Emerald City, the Wizard of Oz was learned to be deceiving.
“You humbug!” an angry Scarecrow said.
“I am a humbug,” the Wizard acknowledged.
“You are a very bad man,” Dorothy suggested.
“No, my dear. I am a very good man,” the Wizard replied. “Just a very bad wizard.”
Criticisms were levied against the Wizard after it was learned that he had used various mechanisms to project himself as much more majestic and honorific than he actually was. In reality, he was a wizened man without much behind his appearance.
The Utah State football team is similar. They rank in the top 40 in the Football Bowl Subdivision in 26 of the 44 statistical categories on NCAA.com, through games of Oct. 26.
That looks great. Ultimately, however, the Aggies are just 4-4, evening the ledger with a win Oct. 19 against New Mexico. Previously, they lost to BYU and Boise State after the loss of Heisman Trophy candidate Chuckie Keeton and three other offensive starters. (The USU defense has not lost any personnel for the season.)
In nine categories (seven offensively), the Aggies still find themselves fourth or lower in Mountain West Conference.
Take a look at USU’s own smoke, fire and green heads.
Rhett Wilkinson is a project manager for UtahPolicy.com and https the true-blooded Aggies from Utah. The co-founder of magazine Aggie BluePrint.com, he's been an intern for the Deseret News and other publications. firstname.lastname@example.org | @wilklogan
The Aggies are tied for second in the nation in this category with seven other teams, as all have blobked two punts. Those include Kansas, where former BYU quarterback Jake Heaps plays, and Urban Meyer’s Ohio State squad.
Georgia Tech is first with three, while 28 teams — including USU’s former WAC foe Idaho — are tied for ninth.
USU gives up an average of minus-0.33 punt return yards per game, just one of three teams to cause returners to lose yards. Yet Boise State edges the Aggies at second, allowing minus-0.38 yards per game.
Houston (minus-0.63) is first. Eastern Michigan (28.86) is last, allowing 2.86 more yards than Florida State.
Limiting opponents to 16.13 yards per kick return, the Aggies lead the Mountain West.
Vanderbilt easily leads the nation with at 13.92 ypr, and Boston College follows with 15. Former WAC foe Idaho easily takes last at 30.21, with Tulsa just above at 28.33.
Despite freshman Darell Garretson’s two interceptions in the second half against Boise State, the Aggies are tied with 12 other teams at this spot with four interceptions. Yet, they are just tied for third in the MW. Despite being just 2-5, New Mexico leads the nation with just one pick, but great teams follow in Oregon and Louisville, having thrown two each. Nevada is tied for fifth with three. Air Force is also 11th but their top two quarterbacks have thrown only a combined 74 times.
With 19 interceptions, Washington State is clearly last in the nation, with three more picks than Southern Mississippi, Hawaii and Western Michigan.
USU’s defense has limited its opponents to just 40 first downs on 130 third-down attempts (.308) this year to also rank first in the MW.
Louisville leads the nation, allowing just 25 conversions in 99 attempts (.253). Air Force is last, allowing 70 conversions in 113 attempts (.619).
USU is tied with nine other teams, including Mountain West Conference foe San Diego State, in this category with eight fumble recoveries. USU and SDSU lead the league.
Former Sun Belt Conference foe North Texas is first with 14, while Ball State follows with 13. Nine teams are tied for last, with two.
USU has 7.4 tackles for loss per game but is just third in the MW behind Hawaii and Fresno State, each with 8.9 to tie for third nationally. The Warriors are 0-7, however.
Nation-leading Baylor and Clemson each average 9.1. Air Force and UTEP are last with 3.3.
The Aggies are limiting their opponents to just 345.1 yards of total offense per game to rank first in the MW.
Michigan State leads the nation, allowing just 215.5 yards per game. That’s 29 yards lower than Louisville. New Mexico State was last, allowing 570 yards per game — 15.2 higher than Idaho permits.
Through Oct. 26, senior linebacker Jake Doughty ranks third in the MW and seventh in the nation in tackles (11.1 per game). Junior linebacker Zach Vigil ranks sixth in the MW in tackles (9.1 per game).
The Aggies’ 89.2 scoring percentage within their opponents’ 20-yard line ties them with Fresno State, but it leaves them merely tied for fourth in the MW, behind Nevada (94.1, 7th), Wyoming (93.9, 8th) and 1-7 Air Force (91.7, 12th).
Florida State (97.4) leads the nation and Miami (Ohio) (57.1) is last, 3.6 percent behind Louisiana-Monroe.
USU is tied with 26 other teams, including BYU and MW foe SDSU, in this category for blocked kicks with two.
Rice, Minnesota and Kansas State all lead the nation with four. Seventeen teams — including MW squads Boise State, Air Force and Colorado State — each have three.
The Aggies are tied with former Sun Belt Conference foe Troy in this category (193). That’s only fourth in the MW, however, behind Boise State (216, fifth), Fresno State (206, 12th) and Wyoming, just one behind the Bulldogs for 13th.
Johnny Manziel’s Texas A&M club is first with 237. Two Florida schools end the list — Florida International (84) and South Florida (87).
Allowing 20 points per game, USU ranks first in the MW in the category.
Nick Saban’s Alabama squad is first in the nation, allowing just 9.8 points per game. New Mexico State (45.9) is also last in this category.
The Aggies are second in the MW in this area, allowing 133 yards per game. San Diego State (124.9) is 21st.
Michigan State allows just 54.9 yards per game. A huge drop-off follows: the second-best team (Lousville) gives up nearly 25.5 more. Then, East Carolina and Gary Andersen’s Wisconsin have a difference of just 0.6. New Mexico State also brings up the rear in this category, allowing 325 rushing yards per game. That is 55.1 more than Nevada.
Through Oct. 26, sophomore linebacker Kyler Fackrell ranks 10th in the MW in tackles for loss (1.12 per game) and eighth in the MW in sacks (0.5 pg).
With a plus-0.6 turnover margin, the Aggies are tied with Alabama and Minnesota and rank second in the MW to Nevada (0.8, 22nd) in the category.
Houston is first nationally with a 2.9 margin, an entire turnover more than Buffalo. Eight teams are between 1.3 and 1.5. At minus-2.1, Southern Miss is clearly last, as 15 teams are between minus-1 and minus-1.6.
Giving up just 10 turnovers, USU is tied with Air Force and 14 other teams for 29th. The Aggies and Falcons are tied for fourth in the league behind Nevada and New Mexico (eight, 12th) and UNLV (nine, 21st).
Bowling Green is all alone at the top with five, while Southern Miss is solely at the bottom with 26.
USU’s 208.3 yards per game is only good for fourth in the MW. Led by Kasey Carrier and sophomore quarterback Cole Gautsche, New Mexico (322.3) is third; Air Force (271.3) is 12th by virtue of being among the most run-focused teams in the nation year after year; Boise State (222.8), led by sophomore running back Jay Ajayi, is 20th.
Army leads the nation with 340.1 rushing yards per game, though like Navy, they emphasize the ground game as much as Air Force. In terms of effectiveness, Oregon was the true leader, then, with 331.5 yards per game. Washington State clearly is last with just 58.4 rushing yards per game. Oregon State (66.6) is next, and the following five, including Hawaii, average between 74 and 76.9.
Through Oct. 26, senior running back Joey DeMartino ranks fifth in the MW in scoring (nine points per game) and eighth in rushing (75.8 yards per game).
Permitting just 212.1 yards per game, USU leads the MW.
Florida State is first (153.7), while California (350.9) is last. That’s 18 more than Troy.
Though the combined 64.1 completion percentage of Keeton, Craig Harrison and Garretson ranks rather high nationally, it’s just fifth in the MW. Boise State’s Joe Southwick (72.3) and Grant Hedrick (69.6), Fresno State’s Derek Carr (69.0), UNLV’s Caleb Herring (68.4) and Nevada’s Cody Fajardo (67.8) all ranked higher individually. Even Wyoming’s Brett Smith (63.6) and SDSU’s Quinn Kaehler (62.0) came close, according to ESPN.com.
Led by junior Shane Carden, East Carolina is first in the nation at 73.7 percent, while Louisville is close at 73.3. Boise State and Texas A&M are at 71.5 and 71.2. South Florida is last at 40.4 percent — far beneath Georgia Tech (45.0).
Through Oct. 26, senior receiver Travis Reynolds ranks eighth in the MW in receiving yards per game (80).
Allowing 212.1 yards per game, USU leads the MW.
Florida State leads the nation, allowing just 153.7 yards per game. California is clearly last, allowing 350.9 yards per game. The team above the Golden Bears, Troy, gives up 332.9 per game.
Through Oct. 26, senior cornerback Nevin Lawson ranks fifth in the MW in interceptions (0.38 per game) and sixth in the MW in passes defended (1.12).
USU has converted 46.9 percent of its third downs, just behind Adam Kennedy’s Arkansas State (47.2).
Louisville is tops, at 63.4 easily leading LSU (57.6) and Texas A&M (56.1). FIU is last at 21.8.
The Aggies are tied with nine teams, including BYU, with 15. That is first in the MW.
Houston (27) is again first in this category, with two more than North Texas. Illinois, Eastern Michigan and Troy bring up the rear, each with six.
Through Oct. 26, safety Maurice Alexander and Fackrell are tied for fifth in the MW in fumbles forced (0.25 per game).
Averaging 35.5 points per game, USU is just fourth in the MW behind Fresno State (44.3 seventh), Boise State (37.4, 24th) and Wyoming (36.5, 29th). The Aggies have scored less than 23 points twice, with 14 both at USC and against BYU, when Keeton exited.
Baylor (63.9) is first nationally, more than eight points ahead of second-place Oregon. Massachusetts is last at 10.6 points per game. In games through Oct. 19, the Minutemen were the only team to average points in single digits.
The Aggies’ 461.6 yards per game is just fifth in the MW, behind Fresno State (524.6, seventh), Wyoming (516.3, ninth), Boise State (495, 20th) and San Jose State (475, 28th).
Baylor is first with 718.4 yards per game, the only team to eclipse 700. FIU (219.1) is last.
Through Oct. 26, Keeton still ranked sixth in the nation with his 18 touchdown passes despite missing the last three games with a season-ending knee injury. Keeton also ranks first in the MW in passing efficiency (157) and fifth in the MW in total offense (271.5 yards per game).
USU is second only to UNLV (118.36) in the MW in passing efficiency defense (119.77). The Rebels are 34th nationally.
Virginia Tech (86.52) is first nationally, while Michigan State (88.81) is near the top of another list, at second. UTEP (179.35) is easily last. Eastern Michigan and Air Force are at 169.99 and 169, respectively.
The Aggies currently rank fourth in the MW, averaging 23.15 yards per kick return. Colorado State (24.73, 21st), New Mexico (24.16, 25th) and Air Force (23.33, 34th) are higher.
Miami (Fla.) is first nationally at 29.62, while Army is last at 14.59.
Senior cornerback Tay Glover-Wright ranks second in the MW in kick return average (27 per game).
With an average of 142.91, the Aggies are third in the MW, behind San Jose State (151.72, 19th) and Fresno State (145.89, 36th).
Baylor (207.12) is first, 13.44 ahead of Florida State. South Florida (82.41) is last, 14.34 behind Miami (Ohio).