N'WESTERN: Five Days and Counting

Bloomington - Fresh off its 27-14 win over Illinois, Indiana (4-3/1-2) goes on the road to face Northwestern (4-3/1-2). Hoosier Nation begins its day-by-day preview of the match-up...

16 – IU Coach Bill Lynch will be trying to do something that Terry Hoeppner, Gerry DiNardo and Cam Cameron were unable to do during their stints as the Hoosiers' head football coach – win a football game in Evanston. It's been 16 years since Indiana last won at Ryan Field, dating back to a 24-0 win for Coach Bill Mallory's 1993 team. That victory was the last of nine straight wins for Indiana in the series. Since then Indiana is 3-8, with all of those victories coming at Memorial Stadium. While Indiana has lost five straight road games in this series, the games have been competitive. The last three games have been decided by a total of 11 points. In the series overall, the last five games have all been decided by six points or less.

11 - takeaways for the Northwestern defense this month. The Wildcats recorded six in a 27-21 win over Purdue, four more in their 16-6 win over Miami (Ohio), and then just one in Saturday's 24-14 loss to Michigan State. On the season Northwestern ranks seventh in the nation with 18 takeaways, and Coach Pat Fitzgerald's team is 30th in turnover margin with a plus four. Turnovers is always a key in any game, but it's been especially indicative of the Wildcats' success or failure this season. They've lost the turnover battle in each of their three losses (-4 combined), and they've won the turnover battle in three of their four wins and are a +8 overall in those four victories.

255 - pass attempts this season for Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka, a total that ranks seventh among all I-A quarterbacks. The Wildcats' signal caller is making the most of his attempts, ranking eighth nationally with a 67.84 percent completion percentage (173-of-255, 1,755 yards, 7 TDs). Indiana should count on seeing Kafka put the ball in the air more than any other quarterback they've gone up against this season. The 6'3", 220-pound senior has attempted at least 44 passes in each of Northwestern's three Big Ten games, including a season-high 47 on Saturday against Michigan State.

51 – Northwestern's success rate on third downs this season, ranking it second in the Big Ten (Penn State, 56.7%) and seventh nationally. This efficiency in moving the chains is nothing new for the Wildcats, who ranked 21st nationally in 2008 (46.4%) and 19th in 2007 (45.8%). Indiana, on the other hasn't had anywhere near that level of success on third downs. The Hoosiers were a solid 39th nationally during the 2007 Insight Bowl season (42.3%), but fell off to 117th (out of 119) in 2008 (27.6%). This season Indiana ranks 72nd with a 38 percent success rate (38-of-100), a ranking that rose significantly with its 7-of-14 third down performance on Saturday against Illinois.

1 - more win that the winner of this game will need to become bowl eligible. Both teams enter the contest with identical 4-3 overall records and 1-2 marks in the Big Ten. Looking at both teams' remaining schedules, this is probably a must-win for both if they want to get to the necessary six wins to qualify for a bowl bid. Both teams still have three games against Big Ten teams ranked in the BCS Top 25 (No. 7 Iowa, No. 13 Penn State, No. 21 Illinois) among their final four league games.

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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