This weekend Nebraska faces a Northwestern team that they've struggled with over the past two years - this after the majority of Husker fans figured that a team like the Wildcats would be a pushover, an easy win every year in conference play.
An honest examination of the Big Ten over the last few years would have revealed that this is not the case, that the other NU has a coach in Pat Fizgerald that gets much more out of his players than one would expect. There's a lot of stereotype in that, specifically "smart people can't be good athletes", but that's a topic for another day.
Once again this week we look at numbers, just numbers, not all them fancy statistics.
0 - Nebraska and Northwestern's combined wins over Minnesota this season. Northwestern's loss happened because of two turnovers, including one pick six for 24 yards and another fumble resulted in a Gopher field goal. Nebraska lost because, well, Minnesota. Everyone thought they'd just show up and the Gophers would fall over in awe.
1 - Northwestern ranked No. 1 in the nation among all FBS and FCS programs in the most recently released NCAA Academic Progress Rating report, posting a multi-year average score of 996 out of a possible 1,000 with the statistic reflecting the eligibility and retention of student-athletes. NU also has a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 97 percent, the best among FBS teams by one percentage point. You probably knew this already.
3 - Categories of defensive statistics in which Randy Gregory leads the team. Gregory has nine tackles for loss for 51 yards (Avery Moss is second with six for 15), 3.5 sacks for 34 yards (Moss is second with 2.5 for 11), and eight quarterback hurries (Moss is second with four). Against Minnesota, Gregory had a sack, a TFL and four tackles.
3 - In a row as the UNL Speech and Debate team won the Big Ten tournament for the third straight year, crushing all those schools that are supposed to be OH SO MUCH SMARTER THAN US. Take that AAU members! Who was second for the second time in three years? TAKE THAT NORTHWESTERN!
4 - The total number of points separating Nebraska and Northwestern in their first two meetings as Big Ten Conference opponents. Northwestern won in 2011 28-25 while Nebraska won last year 29-28.
4 - Losses in a row for Northwestern. The Wildcats come into Lincoln 0-4 in Big Ten play.
5 - From Northwestern's game notes: Northwestern's first five Big Ten opponents this year represent five of the top six rushing attacks in the conference: 1- Wisconsin, 2 - Ohio State, 3 - Nebraska, 4 - Minnesota and 5 - Iowa. Game notes are full of statistics that either make your team look great or explain why the suck so much.
6 - Northwestern has kept opponents out of the end zone six of the last eight quarters.
12 - Nebraska's national ranking in sacks allowed. The Huskers were #1 before the Purdue game, having given up only two sacks. The Huskers are still averaging only one sack a game through all games, but gave up one against Purdue and four against Minnesota. (There is a slight discrepancy here - the gamebook lists four sacks for Minnesota, but individual stats credit the Gophers with five.)
15 - Quincy Enunwa's national ranking in touchdown receptions. He is tied with several players with seven. Enunwa has 92 career receptions which ranks ninth in Nebraska history. Bell gets most of the credit. He's the flashy guy with the fro, but I'd love to see Enunwa get more receptions and more touchdowns.
19 - Nebraska redshirt freshman Jordan Westerkamp had a 19-yard punt return in the first quarter against Minnesota, a season-long punt return for the Huskers. Nebraska ranks 112th nationally in punt returns and last in the Big Ten. Hey, it got better at Minnesota!
21 - Quincy Enunwa's game streak with a reception.
39.9 - Nebraska's points per game so far this season. That's good enough for 16th nationally and tied for fourth in the Big Ten with Wisconsin. Ohio State is #1 (47.3), while Michigan and Indiana are tied for second (42.4). Baylor is first nationally at a whopping 63.9 points per game, followed by Oregon (55.6) and Florida State (52.6).
44 - Northwestern's lowest output in rushing yardage this season. It came against Wisconsin, where both Kain Colter and Venric Mark were injured, Mark leaving in the second quarter and Colter being limited. At Ohio State, Northwestern ran for only 94 yards, but put up 343 in the air.
47 - Nebraska's national ranking in turnover margin. We are +2 on the year. Northwestern is 40th nationally, +3 on the year, but were +4 against Syracuse while Nebraska was +4 against overmatched foe Southern Mississippi. The Huskers are -3 in their last two games.
64 - Number of Husker fans that are blaming Barney Cotton for this mess. Some people just can't let go of a grudge.
78 - Nebraska's national ranking in total defense, giving up 410.4 yards per game. We were improving, steadily giving up less yardage (465, 372, 216 the last three games) until giving up 430 at Minnesota.
97 - Northwestern's percentage in red zone conversion into points. They've scored on 30 of 31 trips to the red zone this season. That's second in the nation, but in a B1G way, 12 of those scores have been field goals. If you look at it from touchdown percentage, they drop to 83rd. Nebraska is 26th in conversions at 88.57%, but in touchdown percentage, they rise to 18th, with 25 touchdowns and six field goals. Imani Cross and Quincy Enunwa are the factors here, with 16 touchdowns between them.
101 - Nebraska's national ranking in penalty yardage per game, giving up 61.3 yards per game in penalties. The Wildcats are 43rd here, giving up 45.3 yards per game. This has been a consistent problem over the past few years. The last four year's national rankings in penalties: 95, 73, 115, 102.
331 - Northwestern will be the 331st consecutive sell out at Memorial Stadium. Let's all pat ourselves on the back!
981 - Abdullah increased his season rushing total to 981, the sixth-most rushing yards by a Husker player through seven games.
2,384 - Husker fans who will actually be hoping that Nebraska loses in the hopes that Bo Pelini gets fired after the game. I have a feeling this number may be low, but it was done by scientific polling (no it wasn't).