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#21 Penn State vs. Northwestern

Posted By Jeremy Hall On Oct 20 2011 @ 12:46 am In Penn State | 5 Comments

Penn State became bowl eligible with their 23-18 win over Purdue last week. Penn State currently ranks 8th all time in Bowl Appearances with a total of 43 (37 of them coming under Joe Paterno). The Nittany Lions look to build upon that success as they travel to Evanston, IL this week for a prime time showdown with the Northwestern Wildcats. The Nittany Lions have a 36-22 overall record in night games and they are 43-21 in Big Ten away games since 1993. Penn State has dominated the series against Northwestern but they cannot afford to overlook the Wildcats. The Nittany Lions must come into this game focused and ready to take care of business.

The Wildcats come into this matchup against Penn State reeling, having lost 4 games in a row, 3 of them in Big Ten play. Northwestern’s latest loss was a 41-31 defeat at the hands of Iowa last week in Iowa City. The Wildcats have been able to score plenty of points this season but their defense just hasn’t been able to keep the opposition out of the end zone. Two of Northwestern’s three wins against Penn State have come at Ryan Field and the Wildcats would love nothing more than to play the spoiler on Homecoming Weekend.

Important Factors For Penn State Success:
- Take advantage of the weak Wildcat defense (Northwestern ranks 101st in Total Defense)
- Exploit Northwestern’s inability to stop teams on 3rd down
- Improve their Red Zone Defense (15 Red Zone opposition opportunities resulting in 15 scoring drives)

Important Factors For Northwestern Success:
- Win the turnover battle
- Win the field position battle (Northwestern has a slight advantage in Punt/Kickoff Returns)
- Move 8 men into the box to stop PSU’s running attack, forcing the PSU quarterback tandem to beat them

 

Penn State Nittany Lions

Northwestern Wildcats

Total Offense (yards/game)

373.1 (78th)

405.3 (52nd)

Rushing Yards/Game

164.9 (59th)

181.8 (40th)

Passing Yards/Game

215 (84th)

238.7 (64th)

3rd Down Conversion %

37.5% (72nd)

46.5% (20th)

Red Zone Scoring %

75% (91st)

75% (91st)

Kickoff Return Average

23.68 (32nd)

21.36 (68th)

Punt Return Average

6.91 (75th)

14.2 (13th)

Penalties Committed

36 for 312 yards (49th)

30 for 256 yards (23rd)

Points Scored/Game

21.7 (96th)

28.3 (62nd)

 

 

 

Total Defense

264.14 (6th)

429.33 (101st)

Rushing Defense (yds/gm allowed)

103 (22nd)

172.17 (76th)

Passing Defense (yds/gm allowed)

164.14 (7th)

257.17 (99th)

3rd Down Conversion % Defense

33.33% (32nd)

51.25% (114th)

Red Zone Defense

100% (119th)

83% (66th)

Kickoff Return Average Against

22.7 (85th)

17.96 (12th)

Punt Return Average Against

8.17 (65th)

1.00 (6th)

Points Allowed/Game

11.57 (6th)

30.00 (88th)

Turnover Margin (margin/game)

.71 (20th)

.83 (17th)

How I See It:
I believe Penn State will get off to a slow start, allowing Northwestern to hang around in the first half and possibly lead the game. However, the Nittany Lions will receive a wake-up call at half time, their defense will wear the Wildcats down and Penn State will win the game in convincing fashion.

Penn State 34 Northwestern 20

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