There are a lot of ways to look at a football game. These are the numbers you won’t find in the ordinary box score.
Each week following the game we’ll share some key stats to track the Huskers’ progress this season in “Beyond the Box Score.” For a more complete explanation of the numbers, click here.
Here’s a closer look at Nebraska’s 28-7 win over Maryland.
Efficiency (Success Rate)
As with most of the categories we will hit today, this was a landslide win for the Huskers. It was an even bigger margin before Nebraska’s offense sort of went into a shell — get it? — and squandered some good field position in the second half. Maryland’s defense did not come into this game doing a great job of keeping teams off schedule, but it was even worse on Saturday. Nebraska’s success rate, with its backup quarterback in, was an obscene 54.8 percent at halftime. That dropped down to 47.6 percent by game’s end but that was still good enough to top my (I thought) ambitious goal of 46 percent. Meanwhile, Nebraska’s defense — minus one play — wasn’t giving up much at all. If anything, the score line was probably misleading.
Explosiveness (Yards per Play)
Much like success rate, Nebraska’s average came down with some lackluster drives in the second half, but this was still a significant win for the Huskers. Nebraska had at least one explosive play on each of its first four drives and ended up with five gains of 20-plus yards, all in the first half. Maryland tallied just one — the 92-yard screen pass that went for a touchdown. That’s two-way domination right there.
Turnovers (Turnover Points)
None to speak of, which is something to talk about. This was the first time Nebraska had played consecutive games without a turnover since the final two games of 2003. The Huskers missed out on a couple of interceptions early, which felt a lot like some interception luck — which has been decidedly on Nebraska’s side this season — evening out.
Finishing Drives (Points Per Trip Inside the 40)
Not much to complain about for Husker fans here either. Nebraska made six trips into scoring territory (good), scored four touchdowns (good) and limited Maryland to just one (great). Spencer Lindsay’s blocked field goal in the second quarter never had a chance, which won’t quiet any Bruce Read-driven concerns, and Nebraska was willing to exchange time burned for the chance at a field goal in the fourth quarter, so really four of five is probably more accurate but when a team is only allowing one trip into scoring territory almost any points at all is enough.
A somewhat deceiving win for Nebraska. When this game was close, Maryland had the edge. The Huskers swung things in their favor defensively in the second half by forcing five three-and-outs, but Nebraska wasn’t really cashing in that field position offensively. Still, for sweep’s sake, the Huskers will take that edge here.
A few more numbers of note for you. In our preview this week I identified some other key stats I thought would play a part in this game: Maryland’s sacks, third-down defense and rushing yards per carry.
Sacks: None of them really ended up having a major say in the game, but Ryker Fyfe was sacked three times. (I set a number to hit of one, assuming Fyfe would play.) It’s pretty apparent now just how much of an impact Tommy Armstrong Jr. has had on Nebraska’s lofty sacks-allowed total this season. It was OK in this game, but if Fyfe has to play at Iowa it merits watching.
Third-down defense: Nebraska bettered its season-long third-down conversion rate in this one, converting 47.1 percent of its chances. Considering that was one of the only strengths of this Maryland defense, that’s part of the reason why the Huskers felt in control most of the game.
Rushing yards per carry: 0.4 yards per carry. That work for everyone? Even if you remove sacks — and you always should — Maryland still only averaged 1.57 yards per carry, far better than the 3.4 yards-per-carry threshold I set. That is back-to-back impressive games from the Huskers’ run defense against teams that were pretty good rushing the ball.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.