EVANSTON-Northwestern started the first half with a touchdown, ended the first half with a touchdown and tacked on quite a few more points along the way in a dominant first half performance.
Aside from one Syracuse scoring drive, it was all Northwestern, all the time, as the Cats ran out to a 34-7 first half lead.
Kain Colter, who made the start, and Trevor Siemian combined to go 22-of-24 through the air for 277 yards and three touchdowns. Colter also tacked on another 67 yards and a score on the ground.
The defensive performance was equally as impressive, as the Wildcats made Syracuse quarterback Drew Allen's life miserable early and often. The Orange mustered just 154 yards of total offense and often looked out of sync and overmatched. A Tyler Scott sack and interceptions by Chi Chi Ariguzo and Traveon Henry only added to Syracuse's woes.
In all, the Wildcats racked up a dominant 388 yards of offense and score 34 first-half points.
Northwestern's first possession of the game was about as flawless as they come. With Colter in the backfield, the Cats shot out of the gate with four straight completions. The senior quarterback completed two passes to Tony Jones and a 16-yarder to Christian Jones before tossing an 8-yard touchdown pass to running back Treyvon Green.
Not wanting to be outdone, Northwestern's defensive line put Syracuse's Allen on his back in a hurry. Scott came up with a sack and the defense forced a punt.
Despite Colter's hot 8-of-9 start for 89 yards and a touchdown, Trevor Siemian came in on Northwestern's fourth drive of the game to take the reins at QB. He promptly led the Wildcats on a 91-yard touchdown drive that featured lots of Tony Jones and a 20-yard TD pass to Dan Vitale.
Jones might have been the star of the first half. He caught seven passes for 131 yards in the first half, including a 43-yard reception that would ultimately set up Jeff Budzien's second field goal of the first half to push the score to 20-0.
The Northwestern defense, however, couldn't keep a clean sheet going into the half. After a steady dose of Syracuse's running backs, a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Collin Ellis brought the ball to the Northwestern 30 yard line. A 27-yard pass from Allen to Ashton Broyld set up a three-yard Jerome Smith touchdown that cut the score to 20-7 with 6:29 to go in the first half.
It was a small flaw in an otherwise perfect half.
Matchup: No. 19 Northwestern (1-0) vs. Syracuse (0-1)
Time: 5 p.m. CT
Place: Ryan Field, Evanston, Ill. (cap. 47,130)
TV: BTN, BTN2Go.com
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