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Numbers, Statistics and Lies: Week Four

Insightful analysis is replaced with a story. A story about three friends at a party...the showstopper, the drunk and the one who sorta keeps her friends out of trouble but has a hard time keeping up with everything.

Nebraska v Illinois Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Here’s some stats for the Husker offense vs Illinois. (Update 3:44 p.m. An updated set of stats was emailed shortly after this published - the numbers have been updated to reflect those corrections.)

  • 98 offensive snaps
  • 32 first downs
  • 346 yards net rushing
  • 65% completion rate
  • 674 yards of total offense
  • 6.9 yards/play
  • time of possession 37:04

These numbers try to tell you a story of a team clearing the bench on their way to a blowout win. They tell tall tales of non-conference cupcakes paid to show up and take their beating.

These numbers are The Heiress who shows up to a high society party in a trendsetting tight red dress and dripping with diamonds. The Heiress doesn’t greet anyone as she surveys the room, orders a champaign and takes her seat; blowing smoke rings and smugly wondering how soon before the men are all racing to bring her another drink.

The Heiress doesn’t notice the uncomfortable glances and whispers behind her back. She doesn’t realize the price tag is still pinned to her gorgeous red dress.

That price tag reads:

  • Five fumbles; 4 lost; two of them allowed the Illini to start off in the red zone
  • Average starting field position 15 yards worse than Illinois
  • 15 tackles for loss given up (2 of them sacks)
  • Only four receivers caught a pass
  • There were so many players injured that the coaches were stopping random kids on the sidelines and asking “who are who and can you play running back?”

While all the partygoers are wondering who will be the unlucky person to tell The Heiress about her price tag faux pas, “Special Teams” shows up.

Special Teams has been out pre-partying. In reality, she’s only The Heiress’ third best friend, but the other two are still recovering from mysterious ailments of which their trust fund advisor refuses to speak. Special Teams knows how to make an entrance. She stumbles into the room, spills the drinks of the kind gentlemen that try to steady her and screams at the top of her voice “HEY I DIDN’T KNOW YOU’D BE HERE!! GUESS WHAT, I’M ALREADY DRUNK!!”.

Everyone at the party sighs and looks at each other knowingly. Special Teams acts like this a lot.

Enter the third friend, Black Shirt. While everyone else has been staring at Special Teams, Black Shirt quietly removed The Heiress’ price tag and reassured her that no one noticed. She then grabs a glass of ice water with a lime, guides Special Teams to a chair and convinces her the water is the newest White Claw flavor. Black Shirt tips the waiter well to be sure the special “White Claws” keep coming.

Black Shirt had a rough start to the party. The second guy she saw ran right past her to get to the buffet table. She thought he wanted to stop and talk, but I guess not. She runs into that problem a lot during the evening. Many of the men she wants to stop and talk to rush past, sometimes just to the person behind her, but sometimes farther.

She really hopes this party ends soon so she can get Special Teams and The Heiress out of here before they really mess everything up. She is running ragged trying to keep The Heiress from giving her phone number to every guy that walks by. She deflects a few of those would-be advances...BUT SERIOUSLY STOP GIVING YOUR NUMBER TO THOSE GUYS JUST BECAUSE YOU LIKE THEIR ORANGE SHIRTS!!

Black Shirt can’t be everywhere at once.

Special Teams needs a lot of attention too. She occasionally sobs in her chair and spills two of her “drinks” but everyone does their best to largely ignore her. She trips over the sill when she leaves, but no one really cares at that point. The party is mostly over.

As Black Shirt takes her friends out to the car, she grits her teeth and listens to them...”I can’t believe you let me drink that many White Claws, I feel sick!!!” and “I can’t believe you didn’t warn me that guy was a creep before I gave him my number!!”

Good friends let you blame them for some of your problems at times because that’s what friends are for. Last Saturday, Black Shirt was a good friend.

Color coded pile of numbers

Some defensive stats from Huskers v Illini:

  • Only 299 yards of total offense given up by the Husker defense
  • Illinois scored 21 of its 38 points off turnovers
  • Illinois converted 1 of 11 third down attempts and 0 of 1 fourth down attempts
  • The Illini were held to 9 completions in 24 attempts for a paltry 3.2 yards/attempt (the Blackshirts did, however, give up 5.8 yards/carry in the rush game)
  • Seven different Husker defenders broke up 10 passes (Marquel Dismuke had 3)
  • The defense added two more sacks, one interception, 11 tackles for loss and a forced fumble to their havoc-meter
  • The Illini only reached the red zone twice. Both of those were because the Husker offense turned the ball over in their own red zone.

Black Shirt was a much better friend than most people realize.

Looking Ahead to Ohio State

Do you really want to see this?

The Huskers need an almost perfect pathway to beat the Buckeyes, but this team eschews the perfect pathway. Will they find a way in their wandering, winding habits to derail a potent Buckeye offense and a even more impressive (statistically speaking anyway) defense?

What do you see in the numbers Corn Nation? Let me know in the comments!