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Numbers, Statistics and Lies: Week 7

A quick review of the Michigan game and looking ahead to the Gophers and the Battle for the Broken Chair

Northwestern v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

NSL is a weekly dive into statistics. This is not advanced stats; only basic stuff that is cherry-picked based on my whims this week. The numbers the chicken entrails point to carefully selected for further analysis are compared to the eye test. About that ‘eye test’, you should know that I usually forget to DVR the games and even when I do, I have so much stuff going on that I don’t have time to rewatch them. I also think I might need glasses. You’ve been warned.

So, what numbers caught my eye this week?


Will Przystup averaged 47.5 yards on four punts vs the Wolverines (net 44.5 yards/punt). This has been such a sore spot in 2021, I figured it was only right to give a hat tip when it was deserved.

I’m not ready to trust Nebraska’s special teams yet, but I no longer feel the need to throw things at the TV when they are on the field.

5.7 vs 7.2

The Wolverines averaged 5.7 yards/play (and ran 81 plays) on Saturday. The Huskers averaged 7.2 yards/play (running 60 plays).

The big difference was in the passing game where the Huskers averaged 10.4/attempt and 16.2/completion while only averaging 4.4 yards/carry in the run game.

Michigan averaged 6.5/attempt and 11.6/completion while averaging 4.9 yards/carry when running the ball.

Overall, total offense favored the Wolverines at 459 yards vs 431 for the Huskers.

3 from #5

Cam Taylor-Britt had been in a funk early in 2021, but has been improving and broke out in a big way vs Michigan. He registered three pass breakups and was in on 11 tackles.

Overall the Blackshirts pulled down 89 tackles compared to 57 by Michigan. The Huskers also had seven pass breakups compared to one for Michigan. Caleb Tannor, Deontre Thomas and Ty Robinson combined for four quarterback hurries while the Wolverines did not register a hurry.

The big stat Michgan’s defense had over Nebraska’s was the 1 forced fumble. Sigh.

Color-Coded Pile of Numbers - Nebraska

Look - I made a color-coded gif!

Because each of the color-coded piles since Week 3 was a slightly different size, the gif gets a little funky in its cropping in some places. Overall though, you can see the trends in each of the sections between Weeks 3 and 7. Only the special teams section gets noticably worse in its coloration, but it feels like the Huskers have turned a corner there so I’m hoping we might see some yellow appear in that section before the season is done.


Like many of the teams Nebraska has faced, the Gophers are a run-first team. Unfortunately for the Gophers, they are down another running back after Trey Potts was declared out for the season. They’ve now lost their top two backs after [All-American] Mo Ibrahim tore his Achilles in Week 1 vs Ohio State.

The passing game for Minnesota should be better than it is with an experienced player like Tanner Morgan under center. However, he hasn’t been productive, or terribly efficient. However, when he does connect with a receiver, the play is likely to go for a chunk of yardage.

The Gopher defense is solid. Finding yards on the ground is tough sledding, but there are plays to be had in the passing game. Scott Frost seems determined to establish the running game, and if he continues that philosophy, it could look pretty iffy for the Huskers at first. Minnesota is the #5 team in the country in defending the run and a top 30 scoring defense. Nebraska will have to work for its points.

So, what do you see in the numbers this week? Let me know in the comments!