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Just the Stats: Penn State at Northwestern

Back to stats. Penn State's defense took a bit of a statistical hit this week, after allowing an absurd 344 yards of total offense to the Boilermakers. The Penn State offense, meanwhile, was about average last week. Northwestern has been anything less than impressive this season. The Wildcats' disappointment stems from the nagging injury to quarterback Dan Persa, who you'll remember tore apart Penn State for the better part of two quarters last time these two teams met.

But that was last year. This year, it's a very different story. Northwestern is very much down right now. Dangerous they remain, but still down. Penn State, meanwhile, is very much up right now. And the stats show it. 

Which matchups should we like this week for Penn State? Which numbers favor Northwestern? Let's find out.

Penn St. Nittany Lions (6-1, 3-0 Big Ten) vs. Northwestern Wildcats (2-4 0-3 Big Ten)
7 p.m. ET, October 22, 2011
Ryan Field (Capacity: 47,130)

Penn State Value (Nat'l Rank) Value (Nat'l Rank) Northwestern
Rushing Offense (ypg) 164.86 (52)
172.17 (76)
Rushing Defense (ypg) Push
Passing Offense (ypg) 208.29 (81)
257.17 (99)
Passing Defense (ypg) Push
Pass Efficiency 111.21 (102)
148.78 (108)
Pass Efficiency Defense Push
Total Offense (ypg) 373.14 (78)
429.33 (101)
Total Defense (ypg) Push
Scoring Offense (ppg) 21.71 (96)
30.00 (88)
Scoring Defense (ppg) Push
Rushing Defense (ypg) 103.00 (22)
181.83 (40)
Rushing Offense (ypg) Push
Passing Defense (ypg) 161.14 (7)
223.50 (68)
Passing Offense (ypg) Psulogo_mediumPsulogo_medium
Pass Efficiency Defense 89.62 (3)
146.53 (36)
Pass Efficiency Psulogo_medium
Total Defense (ypg) 264.14 (6)
405.33 (52)
Total Offense (ypg) Psulogo_medium
Scoring Defense (ppg) 11.57 (6)
28.33 (62)
Scoring Offense (ppg) Psulogo_mediumPsulogo_medium
Net Punting Yds 35.00 (95)
14.20 (13)
Punt Return Yds Northwestern_wildcats_logoNorthwestern_wildcats_logo
Punt Return Yds 6.91 (75)
35.19 (94)
Net Punting Yds Push
Kickoff Return Yds 23.68 (32)
17.96 (12)
Kickoff Return Defense Push
Kickoff Return Defense 22.70 (85)
21.36 (68)
Kickoff Return Yds Push
Turnover Margin +0.71 (20)
+0.83 (17)
Turnover Margin Push
Penalty Yds/Game 44.57 (37)
42.67 (28)
Penalty Yds/Game Push
Sacks 2.00 (48)
2.83 (102)
Sacks Allowed Psulogo_mediumPsulogo_medium
Sacks Allowed 0.86 (18)
1.67 (77)
Sacks Psulogo_mediumPsulogo_medium
Redzone Offense (%) 0.75 (T-91)
0.83 (60)
Redzone Defense (%) Northwestern_wildcats_logo
Redzone Defense (%) 1.00 (T-119)
0.75 (T-91) Redzone Offense (%) Northwestern_wildcats_logo
Redzone TD % 0.46
Redzone TD % Defense Northwestern_wildcats_logo
Redzone TD % Defense 0.53
Redzone TD % Northwestern_wildcats_logo
3rd Down Conv. % 39.42 (73)
51.25 (114)
3rd Down Defense % Psulogo_medium
3rd Down Defense % 33.33 (32)
48.84 (20)
3rd Down Conv. % Push
1st Downs Per Game 20.14 (74)
20.00 (61)
1st Downs Allowed PG Push
1st Downs Allowed PG 14.71 (7)
22.83 (29)
1st Downs Per Game Push


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

Difference >100 in National Rank = Psulogo_mediumPsulogo_mediumPsulogo_mediumPsulogo_medium

The "Old" Mike's 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.  

Not a whole lot of logos up there this week. In fact, the only meaningful (relatively) stats that garner two logos come from Penn State's defense. Penn State's rushing defense is technically a push here, but once you see the opponents Northwestern has faced, compared to the rushing offenses Penn State has faced, it will become obvious that the Nittany Lions do have a cloaked advantage across the board on defense. Speaking of which... damn, look at Penn State's defensive rankings. Yes, they will surely chance once this final month of the season wraps up. But for now, those numbers are impressive.

Once again, the redzone defense for Penn State is a misleading statistic. I had to give it the push only because of the national rankings for the two teams. But considering Penn State has only allowed an absurdly low number of entries into its redzone to begin with, this should not be a terribly alarming stat for PSU fans.

Penn State has still not allowed a touchdown from outside the redzone (20 yard line). Only Indiana State has come close, with a touchdown pass from exactly 20 yards out.

Opponents have scored only 8 touchdowns in seven games against Penn State. Only Purdue (2) and Alabama (3) have scored multiple touchdowns in a single game against Penn State.

Just imagine how lopsided this matchup would be, if Penn State had a remotely-dangerous offense... [sigh]

Here are the opponents, side-by-side, matched up (arbitrarily) by me based on strength.

Penn State Northwestern
#2 Alabama (L) 11 - 27 #23 Illinois, (L) 35 - 38
Temple (W) 14 - 10 #18 Michigan, (L) 24 - 42
Iowa (W) 13 - 3 Iowa, (L) 31 - 41
Purdue (W) 23 - 18 Boston College, (W) 24 - 17
Indiana (W) 16-10 Army, (L) 14 - 21
Eastern Michigan (W) 34 - 6 Eastern Illinois (FCS), (W) 42 - 21
Indiana St (FCS) (W) 41 - 7 n/a


The only defensively-strong teams on NW's schedule are Illinois and kind-of Iowa. But now looking back on the margin of victory for Alabama over Penn State (even if you discount the late PSU TD), and how the Crimson Tide have been absolutely dismantling its SEC opponents (including top-12 Arkansas), having Bama on the schedule really boosts PSU's resume. Overall, Northwestern has faced the better offensive opponents, while Penn State has faced the better defenses. But it's not a large gap between the two.

What else do you see in these stats? Let's discuss...

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