Statistical Highlights: Northwestern vs. Iowa

John Paschall, Reporter

Fourth-quarter efficiency

The Wildcats again struggled to put up points when the game got late. They have now totaled 7 points in the fourth quarter of the past four games. The offense has also produced at least one three-and-out in the fourth quarter of the past four games. Three of the four games saw those quick possessions during critical moments where the score differential was within one score (a touchdown and two-point conversion at the maximum).  Of those three games, NU lost two of them. When the game is on the line as of late, the Cats have been unable to move the ball as effectively.

Read-option the best option

The Cats have been incredibly successful with junior quarterback Kain Colter and junior running back Venric Mark in the read option and sprint option, and it was evident Saturday against Iowa. On plays that were either run or sprint option, the Cats went for 119 yards on 25 carries, including all three of their rushing touchdowns. That’s 4.76 yards every time NU makes the opposing defense make the ever-difficult decision of whether to chase Colter or Mark.

Time to shut down carnival

The quarterback carousel has to come to a screeching halt after last week’s performance by Colter. Sure, he made a horrible throw for an interception in the first quarter, but stats show that if you don’t get the ball enough in Colter’s hands, NU’s offense will struggle. The magic number is 20. If Colter gets more than 20 touches — I calculated touches as the sum of his passing attempts, rushing attempts, and receptions — the Cats are 6-0. When it’s under 20, they are 1-2, with the one win being against South Dakota. 

Quick hits:

  • The two games where sophomore quarterback Trevor Siemian has attempted the most passes are also the two games NU has lost.
  • Since 2008, coach Pat Fitzgerald is 5-3 against ranked teams in November. More impressively, all but one of those wins have come on the road.
  • In the Fitzgerald era, the Cats have yet to win a game following a bye week.

— John Paschall