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Nebraska @ Northwestern preview, by the numbers

A statistical look at Saturday's big game

Herbie doesn't like crowd noise. 30,000 Northwestern fans will make him cower in fear.
Herbie doesn't like crowd noise. 30,000 Northwestern fans will make him cower in fear.
Jonathan Daniel

The modern philosopher and cultural anthropologist Katy Perry once wrote: "Do you ever feel like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind, wanting to start again? Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin, like a house of cards, one blow from caving in? Do you ever feel already buried deep, six feet under screams, but no one seems to hear a thing? Do you know that there's still a chance for you, 'cause there's a spark in you?"

She continues: "You just gotta ignite the light, and let it shine. Just own the night, like the 4th of July. 'Cause baby you're a firework. Come on, show 'em what you're worth. Make 'em go, 'Ooh, ooh, ooh,' as you shoot across the sky-y-y."

This very thoughtful piece has been widely quoted, a treatise on perseverance and rejuvenation. It speaks to thehuman desire for spiritual growth and awakening, of finding relevance in a crowded, temporal world.

I also strongly suspect she was writing about her underdog college football team, which has looked a little ragged the last two weeks, and willing it to outperform expectations and light up the league, a universal sentiment that all of humanity can understand. Katy Perry works on many levels.

Here are some stats and odds and ends that I have cherry picked from Northwestern game notes and theNebraska game notes, as we look forward to Saturday's showdown at a sold-out, all-purple Ryan Field.

82: Number of years since Nebraska last visited Ryan Field, a 19-7 win by Northwestern in the 1931 season opener

36: Number of victories by the current NU senior class, matching the school record for wins by a five-year class

1: Big Ten ranking of Nebraska's rushing offense (292.0 yards per game-- 5th nationally), total offense (507.3 yards per game) and scoring offense (43.67 points per game). Nebraska also tops the conference in sacks (3.5 per game) and tackles for loss (7.67 per game)

2: Big Ten ranking of Northwestern's rushing defense, at 109.9 yards per game

18: National ranking of Northwestern's rushing offense, at 229.9 yards per game

19: Rushing touchdowns scored by each team, tying them for 2nd in the Big Ten

15: Turnovers committed by Nebraska this year, including 10 fumbles and 5 interceptions

7: Turnovers committed by Northwestern this year, including 5 fumbles and 2 interceptions. NU is one of just 11 teams to have two or fewer interceptions.

7.28: Average number of yards Nebraska gains on first down

Something less than 7.28, probably: Average number of yards Northwestern gains on first down

3,209: Career all-purpose yards for Venric Mark, 14th all-time at NU

7,170: Career yards (passing and rushing) for Taylor Martinez. He needs 745 yards to surpass Eric Crouch as Nebraska's all-time leader

47%: NU's 3rd down conversion rate, good for 23rd best in the country. Nebraska is even better at 48%.

6: Sacks this season for Tyler Scott, ranking him second in the Big Ten. He also has three forced fumbles, best in the conference

8: Number of quarters NU's defense has held opponents scoreless this season. They had 10 such quarters all of last year.

11-for-11: Northwestern Jeff Budzien on field goals this year. He's one of four kickers not to have missed.

8-for-13: Nebraska kicker Brett Maher, a pre-season Groza Award favorite, on field goals this year. Maher is also the Cornhuskers' punter, averaging 41.8 yards per punt.

40.4: Net yards punting for Brandon Williams and the NU punt coverage team, ranking second in the Big Ten.

46: Career coaching victories for Pat Fitzgerald, putting him three shy of the NU record held by Lynn "Pappy" Waldorff