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The NUmbers Guy: Iowa Analysis

WNUR Sports Director Jim Sannes (@JimSannes) takes a look at the historic seasons of Kain Colter and Venric Mark along with the rest of the numbers of Northwestern’s 28-17 victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Photo by Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

How ‘bout them Wildcats??? People before the season (including me because I’m an idiot) were tweaking out about losing the likes of Dan Persa, Jeremy Ebert, Drake Dunsmore, Bryan Peters, and Al Netter like it was the end of the world. I predicted the ‘Cats would go 6-6 this season. In typical, “YO, JIM, SHUT YO MOUTH WE DA BEST!!!” fashion, Northwestern is 7-2 already. As our sideline reporter Tralon Williams said Saturday, this is the first time the ‘Cats have had seven wins before the month of November since 1996. I was five years old and couldn’t even spell my own name, most likely because I dropped out of pre-school to watch Spiderman cartoons. It’s a good year to be a Northwestern fan. Let’s look at the numbers that defined the ‘Cats 28-17 victory over Iowa on Saturday as they head into their bye week.

THREE UP

7.81: Yards per carry by Kain Colter and Venric Mark on Saturday.

The dynamic duo of dangerous delight combined for 328 yards on 42 carries as they catapulted their way into the “GET OFF ME, CHILD’S PLAY” Hall of Fame. After a game in which he had only 57 yards of total offense against Nebraska, Colter physically, mentally, and verbally embarrassed Iowa on Saturday. Colter carried the ball a career-high 26 times for an average of 6.4 yards per rush, and he also recorded his 11th rushing touchdown of the season. The last Wildcat to have 10 or more touchdowns in a season was Tyrell Sutton back in 2005 when he had 16. Colter and Mark (who has nine touchdowns) will most likely become the first two Northwestern players ever to have double-digit rushing touchdowns in the same season. Colter’s 11 rushing touchdowns are already tied for ninth in Northwestern history for a single season. He also recorded more rushing touchdowns on Saturday (3) than the entire Wildcat team did in 1981 (2). STATS ON STATS ON STATS!

8-11: Northwestern converted on eight of its 11 third-down attempts.

All eight of the conversions were done by Colter, seven on the ground, one through the air, and five were conversions of five yards or more. Have I gushed about Colter enough to warrant a restraining order yet? Close enough, so we’ll transition to crushing on some other big cats. When you can line-up and bully a team to pick up a first down on the ground, that speaks a lot to the strength of the offensive line. Patrick Ward, Brian Mulroe, Brandon Vitabile, Neal Deiters and Jack Konopka have been zone-blocking beasts this season, and it has translated into what could end up being Northwestern’s most successful season in more than 15 years.

5.6: Yards per attempt by James Vandenberg.

When I heard that Nick VanHoose and Quinn Evans were both going to be out for this week, I spent the next three days sobbing and shoveling Rugrats macaroni and cheese down my throat to cope with my pain. However, Daniel Jones and Demetrius Dugar were up to the test. Vandenberg was able to complete 24 of his 38 passes, but none of them went for longer than 19 yards. Jones and Dugar often gave large cushions to the receivers  resulting in completions, but they never got beat deep. If VanHoose and Evans are able to return after the bye week, this could be a positive sign for the Northwestern secondary moving forward.

THREE DOWN

72: Yards in penalties committed by the Wildcats

Over the last three games, the ‘Cats have averaged 7.67 penalties and 70 penalty yards per game. Granted, one of the penalties was a phantom pass interference call on Ibraheim Campbell, but penalties will take your offense off the field and keep the defense on it. As shown in the Syracuse game, penalties can single-handedly keep an inferior team in the game, and Northwestern won’t be able to commit these fouls if they want to beat Michigan in two weeks.

34:25: Time of possession controlled by Iowa.

This stat is admittedly extremely nit-picky because I realize this isn’t exactly solvable. The nature of Northwestern’s offense is that it works best at an extreme hurry-up pace. This is all fine and well most of the time. However, when they are trying to protect a lead late in the game, this works against them as they don’t have the ability to run down the clock. When they try, the offense gets out of rhythm, resulting in third and outs. The other disadvantage is that this offense doesn’t give the defense much rest between drives, which wears them down throughout the game. On Saturday, the Hawkeyes had five drives that lasted nine or more plays, including their final three drives of the game. I don’t know how to make this problem go away, but that’s why I’m sitting here on a couch watching Twilight and Mick McCall is getting paid to run the offense.

12: Number of days we have to wait until Northwestern takes on Michigan at The Big House.

Photo Credit to Buzzfeed

The picture to the right accurately describes how I felt when I saw the result of the Michigan-Nebraska game Saturday night. If Northwestern wins out, Nebraska loses one of their remaining games, and Michigan wins all of their games except for the one against Northwestern, Nebraska would win the tie-breaker because of their wins over both Michigan and Northwestern. However, if Northwestern wins out and Nebraska loses two of their remaining games, the Wildcats would win the Legends Division. THIS IS STILL A (slight) POSSIBILITY AHHHHH!!! The fact that we are examining the chances the ‘Cats have at going to the Big Ten Championship game going into November is awesome. I’m going to go change my pants.

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