EVANSTON-Northwestern's offense found its rhythm and its defense continued its stellar play as the Wildcats opened a 20-0 halftime lead over Indiana in the Big Ten opener today.
The Wildcats played musical quarterbacks in the first half, and Trevor Siemian's passing and a lethal ground attack produced 316 yards of offense.
Siemian surprisingly got the start at QB and played the majority of snaps in the first half. He is 12-of-20 for 157 yards passing.
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Kain Colter, who had been practicing at wide receiver this week, returned to the "slash" role he played last season against the Hoosiers. He started the game at slot receiver but also got his share of snaps behind center.
Colter is NU's leading receiver with six catches for 54 yards, and he also has 54 yards rushing and both NU touchdowns, on eight-yard runs. Colter hasn't been effective throwing the ball, however, as he is 0-for-2, with one interception.
Venric Mark has 15 carries for 73 yards, including a 33-yard scamper, as Northwestern's ground game dominated play. The Wildcats have 24 carries for 159 yards as a team, and their first scoring drive of the day was an 80-yarder that featured six runs split between Colter and Mark. A Mike Trumpy 24-yard run set up the Wildcats' second touchdown.
Indiana blew a chance to take a lead in the first quarter and never recovered. Cameron Coffman (10-of-18 for 89 yards, hit Kofi Hughes for a 39-yard pass to the NU 11. The Hoosiers stalled there, however, and wound up with nothing after Mitch Ewald shanked a 20-yard field goal attempt.
The Wildcats responded with their 80-yard TD drive to seize a 7-0 lead they have yet to relinquish.
Northwestern kicker Jeff Budzien drilled 44- and 34-yard field goals for the Wildcats. He is now 10-for-10 on field goals this season.
Northwestern's defense, meanwhile, has limited Indiana to 145 total yards and 56 rushing. The Hoosiers are just 2-for-10 on third-down conversions.