By now I'm sure you've heard or read that we will be facing the Big 10's Northwestern Wildcats in the 2010 Outback Bowl. We will be playing the first football game of the 2010s decade. Even though the game is still almost a month away, I thought I would take the time to look up some numbers and stats about our future foes. Analysis after the information...
Towson W 47-14 Eastern Michigan W 27-24 @Syracuse L 34-37 Minnesota L 24-35 @Purdue W 27-21 Miami OH W 16-6 @Michigan State L 14-24 Indiana W 29-28 Penn State L 13-34 @Iowa W 17-10 @Illinois W 21-16 Wisconsin W 33-31
Value Big 10 rank NCAA rank PPG 25.2 7 t-76 Total YPG 386.0 6 56 Rushing YPG 119.92 8 95 Passing YPG 266.1 2 29 3rd downs 47.98 2 9 4th downs 53.33 t-4 t-50
Value Big 10 rank NCAA rank PPG 23.3 6 t-47 Total YPG 343.8 5 43 Rushing YPG 123.0 6 35 Passing YPG 220.8 7 68 3rd downs 34.64 3 25 4th downs 40.00 2 t-30
Value Big 10 rank NCAA rank Turnover Margin +0.42 t-3 t-32 Penalty YPG 46.6 7 35 Time of Poss 30:39 t-4 t-44
The first thing that jumps out to me, statistically speaking, is that Northwestern is really great at converting third downs. Converting almost half of your third downs is a fantastic statistic. I assume that means that they've had alot of third and short or third and manageable, so if we want to stop their offense, we need to keep from giving up yardage on first and second downs. The second thing that jumps out to me is that the Wildcats finished the season on a hot streak, winning their last two over upper-tier Big 10 schools Iowa and Wisconsin. I actually remember watching some of the NU-PSU game, and remember that it was pretty close until Northwestern's quarterback, Kafka (aside: can't wait for all the "metamorphosis" puns), left the game with an injury, and the Nittany Lions won going away. So even though they lost early games to Syracuse and Minnesota, the Wildcats had a real metamorphosis over the second half of the season (aha!). The rest of their stats seem to be rather pedestrian, except for a woeful 119.92 rushing yards per game. We have to be able to shut down their passing game if we want to win the game and notch the first win of the decade.
Now that I've laid that out for you, what do you think about our opponents, and what do the numbers above tell you? I'm really curious to see what Acid Reign has to say about them, and I'm even a little worried I may have stolen his thunder!
War Eagle! Beat Northwestern!