Difference <25 in National Rank = Push
Difference >25 in National Rank =
Difference >50 in National Rank =
Difference >75 in National Rank =
Differences >100 in National Rank =
Note: The Redzone TD% and Redzone TD% Defense are calculated by me and not ranked by the NCAA. Determining who has the advantage in these categories is strictly my arbitrary judgement.
More analysis after the jump.
Both teams are terrible in the punting game. This is nothing new for Penn State, but maybe they can improve their numbers this week against the Wildcats.
Northwestern has a surprisingly potent passing attack. Believe it or not, Northwestern is the highest rated passing team Penn State has faced this year. Unlike Michigan and Illinois who run the spread to set up the running game, Northwestern uses the spread to set up the passing game. This will prove to be the new secondary's toughest test to date.
Advantages for Northwestern
Just like every week, Penn State is at a disadvantage in returning kickoffs. Thankfully, due to the defense not giving up a lot of points, they only have to return two or three kicks per game. So this isn't a huge advantage.
I was pretty impressed with Northwestern's stingy redzone defense ranked #15 in the nation, but when I broke it down to see what percentage of opponent trips came away with touchdowns I wasn't so impressed. Three out of every five trips for the opponent ended in six points. That's not very good.
Advantages for Penn State
Pretty much everything on offense and defense. Northwestern is a very good 5-3 team, and they have the stats of a 5-3 team. Nothing attrocious, but nothing they can clearly dominate you with either.
On offense, Daryll Clark should have success in passing the ball against a less than average Wildcat secondary. This should open things up for Royster to have a pretty good day, though probably not spectacular.
On defense, I don't see any point in Northwestern even trying to run the ball. They are not very good to begin with, and against the Penn State defense it will basically be a wasted down.