Better Know a B1G: Adv. Stat Comparison Northwestern Wildcats


This is the next in the series comparing some statistical rankings between BigTen opponents and UW. This week’s comparison is with the Nebraska Cornhuskers-a team that UW has had a history with. Here’s a list of the previous teams covered:

Composite Ranking Comparison

We again start by looking at the final rankings in the Massey Composite (https://masseyratings.com/ranks) over the last 9 years between the teams.

Northwestern is another team that has had its ups-and-downs over the last decade. They’ve finished in the top-25 twice, but they’ve also finished below #100 twice. The swings from 2019 to 2020 to 2021 are so large that you have to wonder how much of that was due to the shortened pandemic season in 2020.

But the good news for Northwestern fans is that they exceeded expectations last season which has them on an upward trend.

SRS

Here is the picture in the Simple Rating System, SRS, (https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/years/2023-ratings.html).

The picture here is similar to the previous one: large swings between 2019, 2020, and 2021, and then an upward trajectory in 2023.

F+

Here’s a look at the F+ ratings for both teams. As a reminder, F+ is a combination of two advanced stats: FEI and SP+. This should be representative of most of the advanced stats.

This comparison looks similar to the others, although Northwestern was just barely above UW in the 2020 season. And according to this view, UW finished ahead of Northwestern in all but that one season-even finishing above them in UW’s disastrous 2021 season.

Talent Comparison

Here is the talent comparison using the average rating by 247Sports for all of the scholarship players. (https://247sports.com/Season/2023-Football/CollegeTeamTalentComposite/)

Northwestern is another team that has improved their talent consistently over the years. However, UW still maintains a talent advantage-although not as much as it was in 2020.

Final Thoughts

Northwestern surprised a lot of people with their performance in 2023-just ask Utah, whom they beat in the bowl game. David Braun had taken over as interim head coach in January after Pat Fitzgerald was fired. Northwestern was 5-5 after beating Wisconsin last season; it was then that the interim label was taken off and Braun was the permanent head coach. Northwestern won all 3 of their games after then, including the afore-mentioned bowl game against Utah.

UW will get an early look at Northwestern this year since that will be UW’s first-ever BigTen conference game (and Northwestern’s first of the 2024 season). That game will be at Husky Stadium. Given the drastic changes to UW’s roster since last season, and the upward trajectory of Northwestern with Braun as coach, this isn’t a game that UW should be treating lightly-despite the likely talent and home-field advantages. UW doesn’t travel to Northwestern until the 2027 season.



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