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Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Last season, Northwestern fell to Duke in a game so statistically lopsided that it was hard to fathom how the Wildcats could lose.
Northwestern led the Blue Devils in first downs (25-15), rushing yards (138-63), total yards (506-309), time of possession (33:34-26:26) and a host of other categories. But the Wildcats repeatedly beat themselves with penalties, couldn't execute in the red zone (2 of 5) and ultimately lost, 20-14.
Tonight's game in Durham, N.C., was a near replica, and once again, the team that dominated the game lost. Duke had twice as many first downs (28-14), held a sizable edge in total yards (472-328) and trounced the Wildcats in possession time (39:15-20:45). But quarterback Thaddeus Lewis couldn't make a play in the clutch and Northwestern escaped with a 24-20 win.
Last year's loss kept Northwestern out of a bowl. The Wildcats need a lot of improvement from quarterback C.J. Bacher and others, but Saturday night's unfathomable win could be the difference in December.