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Numbers, Statistics and Lies: Week 1

Some of the numbers are lying. But some aren’t.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 28 Nebraska at Illinois

With very few teams having played in Week 0, I didn’t color code the pile for Nebraska. Instead I focused on some specific stats from the gave vs Illinois. Then, we take a look at Fordham and how they fared (FCS) in 2020.

Nebraska vs Illinois

The numbers were definitely lying to us this week. On paper, Nebraska should have won this game.

  • First downs: Nebraska 19; Illinois 18
  • Total offense: Nebraska 392; Illinois 326
  • Yards/rush attempt: Nebraska 4.1; Illinois 3.5
  • Yards/completion: Nebraska 14.5; Illinois 10.6
  • Interceptions: Nebraska 0; Illinois 0 (/insert sad face gif here)
  • Fumbles lost: Nebraska 1; Illinois 1
  • Red zone scores/chances: Nebraska 3/3; Illinois 3/3
  • Quarters played by backup QB: Nebraska 0; Illinois 3+

Okay. Not all the numbers were lying.

  • Penalties/penalty yards: Nebraska 5/67; Illinois 3/40
  • Points off turnovers: Nebraska 0; Illinois 7
  • Sacks allowed: Nebraska 5; Illinois 3
  • Pass breakups: Nebraska 1; Illinois 6
  • QB hurries: Nebraska 0; Illinois 4

Illinois had an experienced o-line that protected their quarterbacks well. The Blackshirts were getting through in the first half, but adjustments by the Illini changed that in the second half.

The rush defense for Nebraska played was very good, outside of that back-breaking drive to start the third quarter. Between Adrian’s strip sack turned scoop and score right before the half and that drive, Illinois opened up a 14 point lead. That required Nebraska to abandon the run and play a very different game than they wanted.

Two plays really defined this game for Nebraska. Adrian’s fumble and Caleb Tannor’s penalty that negated an interception. Nebraska played well enough to win this game, but we know this drill by now...the situational awareness is not there yet. The fumble was not entirely Adrian’s fault, the o-line should be watching lots and lots of film, but he should have realized that the pocket had broken down and that it would be better to go down with the ball in your possession.


Remember, this color-coded pile is relative to FCS, which has 97 teams. The conference ranks are for the Patriot League, which has seven members. This chart is not directly comparable to the one I posted for Nebraska last week because of that. However, it does tell you that Fordham is a middling FCS team. If Nebraska is not playing third stringers early in the second half, this program is in bigger trouble than we thought. (No offense Fordham fans.)

Hey look! Special teams should be especially fun this weekend.