NUmbers Guy: Northwestern’s win against ND
WNUR’s Ari Ross breaks down Northwestern OT win against Notre Dame
A shocker in South Bend! Down 11 midway through the fourth quarter, the ‘Cats rallied and came away with an overtime victory over the Fighting Irish. In a game nobody expected the ‘Cats to have a chance, especially after their performance against Michigan, Northwestern went into South Bend and hung with Notre Dame the entire game, eventually pulling out the win. The ‘Cats didn’t play a perfect game of football, but they were better in every aspect of the game then they were against the Wolverines and were good enough to pull off the upset. This will be a victory that’s remembered for years to come. So let’s look at the numbers behind Northwestern’s 43-40 OT victory over Notre Dame.
After putting up just nine points against the Michigan Wolverines, the ‘Cats put up 43 versus the Irish in South Bend. The ‘Cats hadn’t put up 30 points all year, much less 43! For the first time since the Penn State game, the offense looked good and marched down the field in successive drives, especially when they needed it.
Trevor Siemian was hitting receivers, the offensive line was giving him time to throw, and the running lanes were open for Justin Jackson and the rest of the rushing attack. All in all, this has to be Northwestern’s best offensive performance of the season. They scored four touchdowns, including a two-point conversion, and were able to drive down the field with a little over a minute left to give Jack Mitchell a chance to tie the game and send it into overtime. Overall, a spectacular offensive performance especially compared to last week.
Further evidence of Northwestern’s offensive prowess on Saturday, the ‘Cats put up 547 yards of total offense. Beforehand the ‘Cats hadn’t even put up 400 yards of total offense. Notre Dame’s defense isn’t bad, they rank No. 54 in the NCAA in total defense after last week, but the ‘Cats took it to them.
Siemian completed 30 of 48 passes for 284 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Kyle Prater had his best game of the season, and probably the best game of his career, catching 10 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. Cameron Dickerson finally showed up, catching 6 passes for 97 yards.
And the rushing attack was there as well. Justin Jackson rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown, averaging 6.5 yards per carry, including a long of 44. Treyvon Green rushed for 68 yards, averaging 6.7 yards per carry.
After having few big plays the entire season, Northwestern had three plays go for more than 40 yards. The ‘Cats averaged 5.7 yards per play. It was an offensive performance nobody expected and something the ‘Cats can hopefully build on in the coming weeks.
The ‘Cats punted just one time on Sunday, and Chris Gradone made it a good one, booting it 47 yards from his own end zone. And overall Northwestern’s special teams played pretty well. Notre Dame’s special teams were held in check throughout the day as they averaged just 19.0 yards per kick return and 0.0 yards per punt return.
But the real story of special teams was Jack Mitchell. Mitchell, after not having hit a single field goal for more than 40 yard before Saturday, Mitchell hit not one, not two, but three field goals for more than 40 yards. Mitchell hit from 31, 46, 45 and 41 yards out including a 45-yard kick with 19 seconds left to tie the game and 41-yard field goal in overtime to bring home the victory.
Mitchell was named the Big Ten Special Teams player of the week on Monday, as his clutch kicking helped Northwestern upset in the Fighting Irish in South Bend.
It wasn’t the best day for the defense. The ‘Cats gave up 498 yards of offense to the No. 26 best offensive team in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Everett Golson passed for 287 yards and three touchdowns, all to William Fuller, who the ‘Cats had trouble covering all day. Tarean Folston rushed for 106 yard and a touchdown, while Golson added 78 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The defense didn’t play its best game of the season, they gave up 33 points to a good offensive team, but when the ‘they needed to step up they did.
Northwestern forced four turnovers, three fumbles and one interception. Two fumbles came in the red zone as Notre Dame was driving, and probably would have scored a touchdown, while the last set up Northwestern’s final drive. Ibraheim Campbell forced a fumble with 1:36 left to play and Jimmie Hall recovered, giving the ‘Cats one final shot to tie, which they took advantage.
The ‘Cats head to West Lafayette this Saturday to take on the Purdue Boilermakers. With their bowl hopes still alive after upsetting Notre Dame, the ‘Cats will need to come out of Ross-Ade Stadium with a win to continue their push to a possible bowl. Purdue 3-7, 1-5 in the Big Ten, is a team Northwestern should be able to beat, but coming off a huge upset win, the ‘Cats might face a little bit of a hangover in West Lafayette. It what looks to be a trap game, Northwestern will need to come out strong and if they play similar to this past week, they’ll have a good chance at coming out with a victory over the Boilermakers.