The stats that mattered in Northern Illinois' 38-20 win over Arkansas State in last night's GoDaddy.com Bowl, from long drives, to long passes, to deadly turnovers.
224: Receiving yards for Northern Illinois' Martel Moore. NIU's No. 1 receiver, Nathan Palmer, had an incredibly forgettable day (six targets, one catch, 12 yards), but Moore went off instead. He was on the receiving end of a 41-yard bomb on NIU's first scoring drive, caught another 41-yarder on their second scoring drive, and following back-to-back interceptions in the third quarter, he caught a 43-yard touchdown on a play-fake. With Palmer blanketed, Moore made sure quarterback Chandler Harnish still had a go-to weapon.
27.0: Value, in equivalent points, of Arkansas State's five turnovers. The Red Wolves just killed themselves throughout the final three quarters. They muffed a punt late in the first half, then they committed four turnovers in the second half. Northern Illinois' starting field position after the five turnovers: ASU's 43, ASU's 43, ASU's 7, ASU's 28, and ASU's end zone after a pick six. It is difficult to win while committing five turnovers; it is even more difficult when committing five turnovers on your side of the 50. They also extended a couple of NIU drives with silly penalties. The surprise, really, is that ASU only lost by 18.
14: Length, in real-time minutes, of Northern Illinois' first touchdown drive. The drive included a long replay review and mass confusion following an incredibly iffy spot on a NIU fake field goal. First down? FIRST DOWN!
ASU had gone up 13-0, scoring on each of their first three possessions, but this drive, which eventually ended on a (replay-aided) nine-yard touchdown reception by Perez Ashford, both nullified ASU's, and the game's, momentum.
7: Northern Illinois possessions that began in Arkansas State territory. Not only did the Red Wolves kill themselves with turnovers, but they also hurt their cause with some awful punting. Seven ASU punts resulted in a net average of just 28.6 yards, and while NIU averaged only 5.2 yards per play, thanks to wonderful field position they managed to make, in all, 10 trips inside ASU's 40. The only thing that kept the Huskies under 40 points was three missed field goals. (Why no, this wasn't an amazingly well-played game, why do you ask?)
4: Dwayne Frampton receptions. Ryan Aplin's go-to target limped off the field in the second quarter, and with Josh Jarboe also banged up, ASU's passing game fell apart. Aplin began the game by completing 12 of his first 16 passes for 166 yards (10.4). He would complete only 18 of his final 42 passes for 187 yards (4.5). His first interception went right through the hands of reserve receiver Julian Jones, and while he leaned on his No. 3 man, Taylor Stockemer, as much as possible (15 targets, 11 catches, 185 yards), he needed somebody else to make some plays, and nobody did.
-3: Official rushing yards for Chandler Harnish. He rushed seven times for 14 yards and lost 17 yards on two sacks. Harnish needed 118 yards to reach what would have been an amazing season milestone -- 3,000 passing yards, 1,500 rushing yards -- and while he didn't reach it, with 3,216 and 1,379 yards, respectively, he still had one of the most unique, ridiculously successful seasons of all time.