N'WESTERN - Five Days and Counting

Hoosier Nation begins its day-by-day preview of Indiana's match-up with Northwestern this weekend with five numbers to note about Coach Pat Fitzgerald's team...

10 – road wins for Northwestern since the start of the 2008 season. Remarkably, the Wildcats are 10-3 during those 2 ½ years on the road, which ranks them eighth nationally in road winning percentage. The only programs with better road records during that time span are Boise State (15-0), Alabama (10-1), Texas (10-1), Florida (9-1), TCU (12-2), Utah (12-3) and Missouri (7-2). One of those three losses, though, was the 21-19 setback to the Hoosiers in Bloomington two seasons ago. The others came in 2009, when NU lost at Michigan State (24-14) and Syracuse (37-34). In Big Ten road games, Northwestern is 7-2 since the start of the '08 season.

6 – straight games in the Indiana-Northwestern series that have been decided by seven points or less. While Indiana has shown off an ability to keep things close against the Wildcats, in every game the two have played since 2002, its lone win in those six contests was a 21-19 victory in 2008 that proved to be IU's lone conference win that season. All of the others have gone to Northwestern in dramatic fashion, including a 29-28 Wildcat win last season that saw Pat Fitzgerald's team overcome a 28-3 second-quarter deficit. Narrow wins are nothing new to Northwestern, which is 17-7 under Fitzgerald in games decided by seven points or less, and 27-8 in its last 35 such games.

25 – sacks surrendered by the Northwestern offensive line this season. That works out to 3.57/game, ranking the Wildcats 113th out of 120 Division I teams in the category. That's the most in the Big Ten by a wide margin, with Ohio State's 18 surrendered sacks next on the list. The issue has been especially glaring during the last two weeks, losses to Purdue and Michigan State. Purdue sacked Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa five times in the Boilermakers' 20-17 win, and Michigan State added eight more sacks in Saturday's 35-27 come-from-behind win in Evanston. By way of contrast, Indiana has given up only seven sacks all season.

77 – points Northwestern has outscored its opponents by in the first and third quarters, combined. The Wildcats start games strong, outscoring their seven foes by a combined 61-16 in the first quarter. They've been just about as dominant when they come out of the locker room in the third quarter, owning a 51-19 edge. Those fast starts, though, haven't been enough on a couple of occasions thanks to less-than-stellar fourth quarters. Northwestern has been outscored 60-35 in the fourth quarter, including by a 28-3 margin in the last two weeks. That resulted in squandered fourth quarter leads against Purdue (17-13) and Michigan State (24-14).

61 - straight passes Ben Chappell has thrown against Northwestern without an interception. Chappell's first throws against the Wildcats was a forgettable one, coming in for one play in the 2007 game when Kellen Lewis was injured. Chappell's throw was picked off and returned for a touchdown, a big play in a game eventually won by Northwestern 31-28. Since then Chappell hasn't been picked off by the Wildcats. He was 21-of-34 for 219 yards in IU's 2008 win, and then 16-of-27 for 163 yards in last year's one-point loss. This time, he'll be going up against a Wildcat defense that has intercepted 10 passes this season.

Coming Up
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday – Four Names to Know
On Wednesday – Three Key Match-Ups
On Thursday – Two Big Concerns
On Friday – One Bold Prediction

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