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Next Up: The Northwestern Wildcats

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HEY have you guys heard that this Saturday will be the first time MSU leaves the state of Michigan this season?  ZOMG, our guys have to cross two state lines -- Indiana and Illinois! -- to get to the game on Saturday.  We'll see what it's like to be strangers in a strange land (sorta) when MSU takes on Northwestern in Evanston.

NU is 5-1, but three of those wins have been by five points or less.  Their last game was a brutal loss to injury-ravaged Purdue.  They're very likely not as good as their record indicates, but MSU obviously has had some issues against Northwestern over the years, so winning on Saturday certainly isn't a foregone conclusion.  Statistics:


Northwestern (nat'l rank)
Michigan State (nat'l rank)
Passing offense
282.33 (20)
241.43 (47)
Pass efficiency
171.02 (4)
164.16 (10)
Rushing offense
143.33 (71)
206.14 (26)
Scoring offense
27.67 (63)
34.43 (25)
Passing defense
216.33 (71)
213.29 (65)
Pass efficiency defense
111.78 (24)
107.22 (17)
Rushing defense
140.50 (48)
111.71 (22)
Total defense
356.83 (53)
325.0 (28)
Scoring defense
18.33 (23)
16.57 (17)
Penalty yards
65.83 (99)
73.0 (112)
Turnover margin
+ .83 (19)
+ 1.14 (9)


The numbers between the two teams are strikingly similar in many areas, with MSU holding slim-to-medium leads in most categories.  Of course, we do need to account for Northwestern's schedule, which has been quite fluffy to this point:

Date
Opponent
Score
9/4
@Vanderbilt
23-21
9/11
ILLINOIS STATE
37-3
9/18
@Rice
30-13
9/25
CENTRAL MICHIGAN
30-25
10/2
@Minnesota
29-28
10/9
PURDUE
17-20


Vanderbilt is likely one of the worst BCS conference teams, the other three OOC games were against poor competition, and the two Big Ten games thus far have come against two of the worst teams in the conference.  So while NU's statistics look decent, the jury is still very much out on this team.  But hey, you can't point to Evanston on your hand, so we may be in trouble.

We'll have much more on Saturday's game throughout this week.  But for now, I ask you: 90ish hours from kickoff, how are you feeling about this game?