by Jonah Rosenblum (@jonahlrosenblum)
Coach Pat Fitzgerald returned to his favorite refrain on Monday, remarking that "stats are for losers."
Of course, in this case, the statistics might tell the story of Saturday's game far better than the scoreboard does, because as Fitzgerald pointed out to the assembled media on Monday, slim nine-point margin of victory aside, Northwestern dominated Boston College at Ryan Field.
"We moved the ball up and down the field," Fitzgerald said. "The only thing that stopped us Saturday was us. That was the only thing that slowed us down: selfish penalties, mistargeted throws, dropping the ball, not finishing blocks. All of those things, they're all on us."
As Fitzgerald said, the Wildcats moved the ball up and down the field with ease. They averaged 5.6 yards per play, including 4.9 yards per carry, and finished with 560 yards of total offense. They completed 75 percent of their pass attempts and completely outclassed the Eagles on the ground, 293-25. So on one fine Saturday afternoon, the statistics told a very different story than the scoreboard.
Of course, as Fitzgerald stated, the scoreboard is the only thing that matters in the long run. And the Wildcats emerged on top by that count as well, if just barely.
"We got to go out there and execute," junior quarterback Kain Colter said, "but at the end of the day, we're 3-0 and we haven't even nearly played our best football, so that's the encouraging thing."
The Wildcats' red zone defense has held up incredibly well of late. Northwestern hasn't surrendered a red zone touchdown since the fourth quarter of its season-opening victory over Syracuse. That's not for lack of opportunity. Boston College and Vanderbilt made it into Northwestern's red zone a combined seven times, but came away with just 12 points on four field goals.