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Washington State: Quantifying where things stand (yikes!)

The Pac-10 blog has a number of friends who are Washington State fans. So the Pac-10 blog feels the pain of the Cougar Nation. And hears about it, Jim Moore.

Moreover, the Pac-10 blog believes in the wisdom of WSU athletic director Jim Sterk: It was a good decision to give coach Paul Wulff at least one more season to turn the program around.

Wulff inherited a sinking ship. Maybe a coaching genius would have righted the thing in two seasons and then motored off to a tropical bowl game. But the Pac-10 blog doubts that.

There is hope in the Cougars youth this season. There is hope in savvy recruiting. And there is hope because hope is sometimes all you have.

The program has risen from the ashes before.

But what follows is basically a catalogue of numbers that quantify an uncomfortable present reality: Washington State is the worst BCS conference team over the past two seasons by a wide margin.

And, playing in a conference that may be the nation's best this year and, perhaps, next year, Washington State clearly ranks among the worst in all of FBS football.

The Cougars are now 3-22 overall and 1-17 in the Pac-10 over the last two seasons.

For most Cougars fans, that is enough. But we have more. Lots more.

Last year, the Cougars ranked last in the Pac-10 five of eight major statistical categories (pass, run, total and scoring offense and defense).

This year, the Cougars rank last in all eight.

Last year, the Cougars ranked 118th in the nation -- second to last -- in scoring offense and defense.

This year, the Cougars ranked 119th in scoring offense -- second to last again -- and 118th in scoring defense.

Last year, the Cougars ranked 74th in the nation in attendance (30,718)

This year, the Cougars rank 85th (22,509), worst among BCS conference teams.

How about this: Using a complicated metric, Football Outsiders calculated that five of the 10 worst performances this year in games between BCS teams were recorded by Washington State.

Want more? No?

Sorry. We have more.

ESPN.com's crack crew in Stats & Information looked behind the numbers to see where the Cougars stood. It ain't pretty.

By the way, some of this will interest -- and perhaps surprise -- fans of other teams. Michigan, UCLA and Arizona State -- even Virginia Tech -- might find some insights into shortcomings below.

Offense

Yards per rush, last two seasons

1. Washington State: 804 attempts, 2084 yards, 2.59 average

2. Duke: 758, 2036, 2.69

3. San Jose St.: 701, 1933, 2.76

4. Fla Int'l: 802, 2245, 2.80

Lowest percentage of offensive plays gaining 5-plus yards, last two seasons

1. Washington State: 33.8

2. Central Florida: 34.4

3. New Mexico State: 35.6

4. San Jose State: 35.8

Most negative plays, last two seasons

1. Washington State: 251

2. Virginia Tech: 221

3. Michigan: 215

4. Wake Forest: 212

Highest percentage of negative plays, last two seasons

1. Washington State: 16.3

2. San Jose State: 13.8

3. Michigan: 13.3

Fewest TD drives of 60-plus yards, last two seasons

1. Washington State: 20

2. Army: 23

3. UCLA: 24

Highest percentage of 3-and-outs, last two seasons

1. Washington State: 31.0

2. San Jose State: 29.4

3. New Mexico State: 28.3

4. Virginia: 27.8

Most 3-and-outs, last two seasons

1. Washington State: 104

2. Boston College: 99

3. Michigan: 93

4. Vanderbilt: 91

Worst 3rd down conversion percentage, last two seasons

1. Washington State: 25.4

2. Arizona St: 30.1

3. Syracuse: 30.3

4. San Jose St: 30.6

Worst 3rd and long conversion percentage (3rd and 7-plus), last two seasons

1. Washington State: 11.5

2. Army: 15.7

3. Syracuse: 16.4

4. Arizona St: 18.5

Defense

Fewest percentage of 3-and-outs forced, last two seasons

1. Idaho: 11.7

2. Washington: 12.5

3. Washington St.: 13.8

4. Tulane: 13.8

Percentage of plays allowed for 10-plus yards, last two seasons

1. Washington State: 24.5

2. Idaho: 23.1

3. North Texas: 23.0

4. Rice: 22.4

Most plays of 10-plus yards allowed, last two seasons

1. Washington State: 432

2. Rice: 412

3. UTEP: 395

4. Texas A&M: 391

Special teams

Highest Average Yards Allowed per Kickoff Return, Last Two Seasons

1. Idaho: 27.0

2. North Texas: 26.2

3. Washington St: 26.1