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Numbers, Statistics and Lies - Midseason Edition

The color-coded pile of numbers is back!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 06 Nebraska at Illinois Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The color-coded pile of numbers is back for a mid-season check on our beloved Huskers.

For those of you that haven’t seen this feature before, NSL is a quick look at basic stats and where Nebraska ranks in all of FBS as well as the Big Ten. I pull out some random stats the dart landed on carefully curated statistics and then analyze where the numbers match the eye test.

There are 133 teams playing FBS football in 2023. The chart below is broken into quintiles in which areas the Huskers rank in the top 20% are dark green. These are followed by light green, yellow, light red and then dark red boxes where Nebraska is in the bottom 20%. The same pattern follows the Big Ten where a top 3 rank is dark green, 4-6 is light green, 7-8 is yellow, 9-11 is light red, and 12-14 is dark red.

Even before hitting “paste” into the super secret spreadsheet, I expected to see a lot more red in the offensive section and more green and yellow for the defense. There is also a special teams section, but it has been so long since I even wanted to look....

Whew! That isn’t...horrible. It isn’t great, but it isn’t Frost-ian.

Color-Coded Pile of Numbers

What you see folks, is a team with a dysfunctional offense and solid defense (except for the red zone). I think that matches what our eyes have told us so far.

One area that surprises me a little bit is the “Team” section. After years of Frost’s heavily penalized, turnover-prone teams, I hoped that Matt Rhule could batten down the hatches in that area. But you can see that the Huskers continue to turn the ball over while generating few turnovers by the opponent. IIRC, this section was usually more dark red in recent years, so perhaps this is as much progress as we can expect in one year.

Lies! - Time of Possession

Will you look at that?!? Nebraska is on offense more than half of every game.

I don’t put a lot of stock in time of possession, but I certainly didn’t expect to see green on that line. Husker teams of the past few years were markedly behind their opponents in ball control. I thought the 2023 Huskers were more of the same. It appears that, outside of the Colorado game, the offense is okay at giving the Blackshirts some rest time.

Maybe that is why there are so many turnovers. A nice Midwestern team doesn’t hog the ball all the time...

So, what do you see in the numbers? Anything I missed? Let us know in the comments!