Statistically Speaking: Wildcat Edition

Here are the stats for Penn State and Northwestern from the NCAA site:
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NCAA Stats Comparison
Category: Penn St. Northwestern Delta
Rushing 52 40 -12
Passing Offense 81 68 -13
Total Offense 78 52 -26
Scoring Offense 96 62 -34
Rushing Defense 22 76 54
Turnovers Gained 10 50 40
Passes Had Intercepted 64 8 -56
Pass Defense 7 99 92
Net Punting 95 94 -1
Punt Returns 75 13 -62
Kickoff Returns 32 68 36
Turnover Margin 20 17 -3
Fumbles Recovered 33 67 34
Passes Intercepted 7 37 30
Fumbles Lost 70 14 -56
Turnovers Lost 70 6 -64
Passing Efficiency 102 36 -66
Pass Efficiency Defense 3 108 105
Total Defense 6 101 95
Scoring Defense 6 88 82
Fewest Penalties Per Game 33 28 -5
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game 37 28 -9
Punt Return Yardage Defense 65 6 -59
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense 85 12 -73
Offense Third-down Efficiency 73 20 -53
Offense Fourth-down Efficiency 5 102 97
Defense Third-down Efficiency 32 114 82
Defense Fourth-down Efficiency 87 97 10
Tackles for Loss 32 96 64
Offense Tackles for Loss 6 94 88
Pass Sacks 48 77 29
Pass Sacks Allowed 18 102 84
Time of Possession 27 73 46
First Downs 74 29 -45
First Downs Allowed 7 61 54
Red Zone Efficiency 91 91 0
Red Zone Efficiency – Defense 119 60 -59
Average NCAA Rank: 47.78 59.3 11.52
Weighted Avg. Rank: 47.33 70.08 22.75

Unlike Purdue last week, whose weighted stats were considerably better than the straight up average, Northwestern is actually worse when key stats are weighted.

In the offensive categories, NW is ranked on average 21.25 spots better than PSU.

In the defensive categories of rushing, pass, pass efficiency, scoring and total defense, Penn State is ranked on average 85.6 spots BETTER than the Wildcats.

Neither team performs well in the red zone.  If it weren’t so sad I’d be laughing.  And as good as our defense is, our red zone defense is tied for last in the country.  It’s like the goal line is some weird electromagnetic force that creates havoc whenever our players get near it, whether they are on offense or defense.  It’s creepy really.

But on the bright side, they can’t get any worse and there’s only one way to go from here.

My preseason countdown had this game ranked as our 6th most difficult gameIllinois was #7 and Iowa was #5.  Here was my prediction:

I think Penn State will be 6-1 going into this game and building momentum. I look for a shaky start, a solid third quarter and pulling away with a win by at least 10 points. Don’t ask me why. It’s just a feeling I have. It might be gas.

I may be a fool, but I’m standing by that prediction, even though the line has us favored by 4.  The best thing for a struggling offense is to face a struggling defense.

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Filed under analysis, Big Ten, football, Northwestern, Penn State, prediction, statistics

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