Northwestern put up a valiant fight but dropped its fourth straight game, a heartbreaking 17-10 overtime loss to Iowa.
Here are WildcatReport's quick hitters:
Offensive game ball: Kain Colter. It was good to see No. 2 back in the backfield for the Wildcats. The senior quarterback was 11-for-14 for 104 yards and a touchdown passing, and he added 60 yards on 18 carries rushing. More than that, though, Colter restored a little swagger to a slumbering Wildcat offense, particularly in the second half, when he was at his slippery, spinning, elusive best. He dove for a first down in the fourth quarter and re-injured his ankle, but he gutted out and returned to the lineup.
Offensive big play:The longest play from scrimmage in the game was a 31-yard completion from Colter to Dan Vitale, who made a juggling catch on the sideline. For a team struggling for yardage the last couple weeks, it was a reminder that the Wildcats could still pick up yards in chunks. That series ended with Colter hitting a wide-open Vitale for Northwestern's only touchdown.
Defensive game ball: Chi Chi Ariguzo. The outside linebacker was everywhere for Northwestern, finishing with 13 tackles and the interception of Jake Rudock on fourth-and-11 that cinched overtime. He also hit Rudock while he was throwing on a third-and-7 on the previous play to force a fumble.
Defensive big play: Ariguzo made a few momentum-swinging plays, but none was bigger than a third-quarter open-field tackle of Damon Bullock in the third quarter. Bullock had just caught a swing pass from Rudock on third-and-3 at the NU 23 when Ariguzo came up and stopped Bullock in his tracks for a one-yard loss. Iowa's Mike Meyer then missed a 42-yarder that would have given Iowa the lead.
Game winner: Facing a third-and-7 at the NU 8-yard line in overtime, Northwestern blitzed Ibraheim Campbell and Ariguzo right up the middle, leaving the Wildcats in man-to-man coverage. Rudock, facing pressure in his face, calmly floated the ball to the corner, where C.J. Fiedorowicz came down with the touchdown as NU safety Traveon Henry was not quite able to get there.
Turning point: Colter ran to the Iowa 21 with 3:29 left and the score tied 10-10 when Vitale was called for an illegal chop block. It looked like Vitale may have gotten his head in front of the Iowa defender, but it was an unnecessary penalty regardless. The call wiped out the play and pushed Northwestern back to the 45. Mike Trumpy fumbled on the next play to give the ball back to the Hawkeyes and erase any hope the Wildcats had of taking the lead in the waning minutes.
Stat of the game: 136, Iowa's total rushing yards. After the Hawkeyes gained 65 yards on the ground on their game-opening touchdown drive, Northwestern shut them down the rest of the day, limiting them to just 71 yards on 32 more runs.
Unsung heroes: There are two: Vitale, celebrating his birthday, had four catches for 52 yards and the touchdown, and he also picked up 18 yards on a nifty jet sweep play. Stephen Buckley also had an outstanding game, with 17 carries for a career-high 99 yards, including a 30-yard dash in the fourth quarter.
Atmosphere: Kinnick Stadium provided its customary loud, hostile environment, but Northwestern once again responded well, even if it didn't get the win. Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald is now 3-2 in Iowa City.
More game coverage to come from WildcatReport…