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Northwestern Preview By The Numbers

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Penn State

Value (Nat'l Rank)

Value (Nat'l Rank)

Northwestern

Advantage

Rushing Offense (ypg) 184.4 (29) 117.9 (39) Rushing Defense (ypg) Push
Passing Offense (ypg) 243.8 (37) 220.3 (68) Passing Defense (ypg) Psulogo_medium
Pass Efficiency 145.5 (21) 130.3 (73) Pass Efficiency Defense Psulogo_mediumPsulogo_medium
Total Offense (ypg) 428.1 (23) 338.1 (46) Total Defense (ypg) Push
Scoring Offense (ppg) 30.3 (32) 23.6 (61) Scoring Defense (ppg) Psulogo_medium
Rushing Defense (ypg) 79.8 (4) 122.3 (92) Rushing Offense (ypg) Psulogo_mediumPsulogo_mediumPsulogo_medium
Passing Defense (ypg) 160.5 (9) 270.4 (23) Passing Offense (ypg) Push
Pass Efficiency Defense 91.7 (4) 132.1 (53) Pass Efficiency Psulogo_medium
Total Defense (ypg) 240.3 (3) 392.6 (49) Total Offense (ypg) Psulogo_medium
Scoring Defense (ppg) 8.9 (1) 27.3 (57) Scoring Offense (ppg) Psulogo_mediumPsulogo_medium
Net Punting Yds 32.4 (110) 6.2 (91) Punt Return Yds Push
Punt Return Yds 5.4 (99) 31.8 (116) Net Punting Yds Push
Kickoff Return Yds 17.5 (116) 21.9 (68) Kickoff Return Defense Northwestern_wildcats_logo_mediumNorthwestern_wildcats_logo_medium
Kickoff Return Defense 22.6 (83) 19.1 (103) Kickoff Return Yds Push
Turnover Margin 0.38 (45) 0.13 (61) Turnover Margin Push
Penalty Yds/Game 35.9 (4) 46.1 (27) Penalty Yds/Game Push
Sacks 3.25 (8) 2.25 (78) Sacks Allowed Psulogo_mediumPsulogo_medium
Sacks Allowed 1.13 (20) 2.50 (36) Sacks Push
Redzone Offense (%) 0.85 (44) 0.72 (15) Redzone Defense (%) Northwestern_wildcats_logo_medium
Redzone Defense (%) 0.59 (1) 0.90 (19) Redzone Offense (%) Push
Redzone TD % 0.64 0.60 Redzone TD % Defense Psulogo_mediumPsulogo_medium
Redzone TD % Defense 0.29 0.60 Redzone TD % Psulogo_medium
3rd Down Conv. % 53.6 (3) 37.3 (57) 3rd Down Defense % Psulogo_mediumPsulogo_medium
3rd Down Defense % 30.4 (11) 51.1 (6) 3rd Down Conv. % Push

Legend

Difference <25 in National Rank = Push

Difference >25 in National Rank = Psulogo_medium

Difference >50 in National Rank = Psulogo_mediumPsulogo_medium

Difference >75 in National Rank = Psulogo_mediumPsulogo_mediumPsulogo_medium

Differences >100 in National Rank = Psulogo_mediumPsulogo_mediumPsulogo_mediumPsulogo_medium

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.

Worst Matchup

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.

Best Matchup

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

Kickoffs...AGAIN!

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.