Stat Attack: West Virginia wouldn’t have the first terrible defense to win a national championship

There's an old adage that states: "Offense wins games, defense wins championships." Or is it: "Offense sells tickets, defense wins championships."

Either way, the overwhelming idea is that to win a championship, you have to have a solid defense.

But is that always the case?

Eh, not always.

In 2010, Auburn's scoring defense ranked 53rd nationally, allowing 24.07 points per game. It allowed 368.36 yards per game, which ranked 60th. The Auburn team that won the SEC and had the Heisman winner was the worst defensive team to ever win a BCS national title.

So maybe there's hope for West Virginia.

The Mountaineers have spent the last six weeks thrilling college football fans with their high-octane offense and mediocre defense. It seems like the Mountaineers' way to win is just to outrace its opponent to the finish line rather than actually prevent it from finishing.

West Virginia currently ranks No. 5 nationally in scoring offense and No. 102 in scoring defense. Yep, you read that right. The Mountaineers are allowing opponents 406 yards per game and 35 points per game. Arkansas, Colorado and Baylor are the only major conference teams below the Mountaineers.

The next worst scoring defense in the AP Top 5 is Oregon, which ranks No. 31 allowing 20 points per game.

If West Virginia were to stay on its current defensive pace and win the national title, it would fly in the face of the way we perceive a national champion. Since 1999, only two national championship scoring defenses have ranked worse than No. 10 nationally — Auburn and LSU in 2007. That LSU team was the only team during that span to rank higher than 10th in both scoring offense (11th) and scoring defense (17th).

But if you're trying to compare West Virginia with another national champion, Auburn is probably the right fit. Auburn won a handful of shootouts and its quarterback, Cam Newton, was the difference. The Tigers beat an Oregon team that ranked No. 1 in scoring offense and No. 12 in scoring defense, which would be the inverse (more or less) to this year's Alabama team, which ranks No. 1 in scoring defense and No. 17 in scoring offense.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. The Mountaineers have a long way to go before it's playing for a national title. The one thing West Virginia has going for it is it doesn't have to play any of the other teams in the top 5 and it doesn't have to play a championship game.

However, five of the Mountaineers' next six opponents rank in the top 25 nationally in scoring defense, which should provide more evidence as to which side of the ball really reigns supreme.

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