All putting up gaudy numbers this season are Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon and USC's Robert Woods. But upon further examination, the Trojan's star should emerge as the frontrunner for the honor which annually names the best wide receiver in college football.
Three statistics justify the claim that Woods is the clear leader for the award: the team's number of pass attempts, each individual's all-purpose yardage and the production of each program's secondary receiver.
First, USC has the lowest number of pass attempts for all three teams, at 404. Oklahoma is second with 463 and OSU the most with 516. Oklahoma State has the most pass attempts in the nation, behind Texas Tech and Arizona. The Cowboys (10-1) and Trojans (9-2) have each played 11 games, while the Sooners (8-2) have played 10.
Such a statistic must take into account the three programs' offensive styles. USC isn't nearly as pass-heavy as the two midwestern schools. Oklahoma State uses a spread style offense under quarterback and Heisman candidate Brandon Weeden. The state's counterpart, Oklahoma, under quarterback Landry Jones, runs a shotgun spread offensive style using multiple sets. USC is the black sheep of the trio, running a traditional pro-style with a more balanced offensive attack.
Second, a receiver's all-purpose yards must be taken into account.
Woods is unquestionably the most versatile of the three, lining up in a variety of spots on the line of scrimmage as well in the backfield. Through all 11 of the Trojans' games, he has 1,697 all-purpose yards, including 502 yards from kickoffs and punt returns combined and 16 yards rushing.
Broyles was lost for the season with a knee injury against Texas A & M, so his yardage is slightly affected. In nine games he played for the Sooners this year he racked up 1,356 all-purpose yards, including 196 in returned punts.
Blackmon, on the other hand, has participated in an equal number of games as Woods. But he hasn't been as effective on special teams as the two prior. Only eight of Blackmon's 1,249 all-purpose yards do not include receiving yards.
So per game Woods finishes first among the three with 154.31 all purpose yards, Broyles a close second with 150.7 and Blackmon in third with 113.5 yards a contest.
Finally, it should be acknowledged that Woods has a receiver counterpart in Marqise Lee that has affected his already-huge numbers. Neither Oklahoma school has a second receiver that nears the production of USC's Lee:
Emerging as one of college football's best freshman, Lee has 60 receptions in 11 games for 919 yards, an average of 83.5 receiving yards per game. He has caught 10 touchdowns for USC.
As for the two schools' secondary receiver, Oklahoma State's Josh Cooper is averaging a respectable 65.4 receiving yards a game with three touchdowns through 10 games. Oklahoma's Kenny Stills has averaged more receiving yards than either Cooper or Lee (85.6) but has two less scores than Lee, averaging a touchdown per game for the Sooners.
If the Serra High product catches the ball at least four times on Saturday, he will surpass the Pac-12 Conference record for receptions, set by former Trojan Keyshawn Johnson in 1995. With Broyles seemingly out of the picture, the contest reamins between Blackmon and Woods. And if those specific statistics are taken into account, Woods appears to be the natural leader.