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Four Phil Steele Facts: Northwestern Wildcats

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Numbers never lie. What do they tell us about these nerds?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 24 Illinois at Northwestern Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Phil Steele puts out the best college football preview magazine every year. It’s not even a contest. In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of his first publication we at Bucky’s 5th Quarter are going to find four interesting facts about each team on Wisconsin’s schedule, including the Badgers, and break them down for you.

Phil, we love your magazine and we also love your mustache.

NUMBER 1: 12

In a cruel and twisted timeline, such as this one we are currently in, Northwestern has won 12 straight games against B1G West opponents. I triple-checked this factoid because I, like you, did not believe it. (Editor’s note: Turns out I should have quadruple checked this fact as eagle-eyed reader BradNortman’sActingCoach pointed out that it is, in fact, 11 straight B1G West wins. Thanks for the catch!) Pat Fitzgerald and his creepy Positive Guy magic have put a hex on the rest of the division and I am sick about it. The last time NU lost a division game was in 2017 at Wisconsin. Their first divisional opponent this year? That’s right: at Wisconsin on September 29th.

NUMBER 2: 127

That’s the total tackles recorded by, surprisingly, not Paddy Fisher. Blake Gallagher is the starting weak-side linebacker for the Wildcats defense and lead the team and conference in this stat. The third-team All-B1G performer was also tied for third in the conference with 9.1 tackles per game. He and Fisher are quite the dynamic duo and will be one of the main reasons that the Wildcats continue to win games that they shouldn’t.

Steve Clarkson’s 14th Annual Quarterback Retreat
::wolf whistles::
Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

NUMBER 3: 53

Clayton Thorson may be the greatest quarterback to ever lace ‘em up for the Wildcats. He has the B1G record for career starts, the aforementioned 53, the NU record for passing yards (10,731) and wins (36). He will be tough to replace, however the Wildcats were the surprise landing spot for prized Clemson transfer QB, Hunter Johnson who will look to take over the starting job this season. Johnson was one of the top-rated players in the country coming out of high school, but read the writing on the wall at Clemson and high-tailed it out of there for more playing time. He is the prototypical modern quarterback with a big arm and ability to move the ball with his legs. He should be dangerous once he gets settled in.

NUMBER 4: -37

Look, I have been mad online since last season about Northwestern. THEY STINK! THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE WON THE DIVISION AT ALL, LET ALONE BY A DOZEN GAMES OR WHATEVER STUPID NUMBER IT WAS! GOD, THEY JUST STINK!!

Now that I have that out of my system...let’s take a look at some numbers that may back up my rage-filled claims. The -37 is the average net yards per game for Northwestern. They went 8-1 in conference and didn’t average more yards than their opponents!?!?! WHAT THE HELL?????

In fact, they only had one game where they out-gained their opponent by more than 100 yards (Wisconsin, a kinda bad team last year, had four) and that was in a loss (!) to Akron (!!) They actually had five wins last year, over half of their total mind you, where they had fewer yards than their opponent.

Northwestern Stinks!

Team Net Yards Turnover margain
Team Net Yards Turnover margain
Purdue -71 3
MSU -44 -1
Iowa -27 0
Illinois -64 1
Utah -71 5
Total -277 8
Average -55.4 1.6

They won all of those games! Turnover luck and bad offense won’t get you very far in life, Northwestern. I look forward to the regression towards the mean this year and if they win the division again I guess I’ll just have to make this into a Northwestern Appreciation blog.