Northwestern Football 2012 Bowl Capsule

Northwestern Wildcats
Big Ten


There were not too many positive surprises in the Big Ten this season, but Northwestern is one of them. The Wildcats won nine games with their three losses coming against Penn State, Nebraska and Michigan. Coach Pat Fitzgerald did not get exactly what he expected from this team, but Northwestern has still gotten the job done. They have just done it on the ground more than through the air.

2012 Record: 9-3, 5-3
Coach: Pat Fitzgerald
Coach Bowl Record: 0-4

Big Wins: 9/1 at Syracuse (42-41), 11/17 at Michigan State (23-20)
Bad Losses: 10/6 at Penn State (28-39), 10/20 Nebraska (28-29)

Heading into the 2012 campaign, most expected Northwestern to go through the air with quarterback Kain Colter. Of course Colter can run too and that is where he made his mark. Colter ran for 820 yards and a dozen touchdowns. But it has been the emergence of Venric Mark that turned the Wildcats into a very good running team. Mark ran for 1,310 yards and 11 scores. On the other side of the ball, the rushing defense has been superb as well. The unit allows under 123 rushing yards per game, ranking third in the conference and 19th in the nation. Linebacker Damien Proby turned into the leader of the unit and totaled 108 tackles. Up front Tyler Scott, Quentin Williams and Brian Arnfelt form a good group that can push the line of scrimmage back. The front four is not great at getting to the quarterback, but Scott can at least get relatively consistent pressure.

The pass defense has been tough to watch for Northwestern fans. The unit has given up a Big Ten high 263 yards through the air per contest. Nick VanHoose and Daniel Jones are both underclassmen who have had to learn as they go. And it has been a pretty difficult learning process. The good news, if there is any, is that the young secondary is getting better with experience. Back on offense, the passing game has not gone as planned. Colter was benched in favor of Trevor Siemian. Colter is too dynamic of a playmaker to take off the field, but Siemian will take most of the snaps. He is a good quarterback who can make some tough passes, but Siemian has not gotten much help from his wide receivers. The Wildcats have a plethora of decent pass catching options, but nobody stepped up and turned into the go-to-receiver. Christian Jones, Tony Jones, Demetrius Fields and Rashad Lawrence are all capable receivers who have caught between 29 and 32 passes, but it is nice to have a trusted big play receiving option and Siemian does not have one.

Statistical Leaders:
Rushing: Venric Mark, RB, 1,310 yards
Passing: Trevor Siemian, QB, 1,192 yards
Receiving: Christian Jones, WR, 373
Tackles: Damien Proby, LB, 108
Sacks: Tyler Scott, DE, 7.0
Interceptions: David Nwabuisi, LB, 3

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 230.92 (14th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 166.83 (109, 12)
Total Offense: 397.75 (65, 6)
Scoring Offense: 31.50 (42, 3)
Rushing Defense: 122.75 (19, 4)
Pass Defense: 262.58 (96, 12)
Total Defense: 385.33 (50, 9)
Scoring Defense: 22.75 (32, 6)
Turnover Margin: 1.08 (12, 1)
Sacks: 2.08 (50, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 1.33 (28, 2)

Recent Bowl Appearances:
2011    Car Care of Texas Bowl    Texas A&M (22-33)
2010    TicketCity Bowl        Texas Tech (38-45)
2009    Outback Bowl            Auburn (35-38)
2008    Alamo Bowl            Missouri (23-30)
2005    Sun Bowl            UCLA (38-50)

*all team stats through 11/24


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