Indiana turned out to be just what Northwestern needed. The Wildcats (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten) snapped a five-game losing streak and notched its first Big Ten win of the year with a 59-38 evisceration of the outgunned Hoosiers.
Here is the two-minute drill:
Story of the game: Northwestern's offense amassed 616 yards and eight touchdowns in its highest-scoring performance since hanging 61 points on Illinois in 2000. The Wildcats rolled up 299 yards passing and 317 rushing, had 405 yards and 38 points by halftime, and didn't punt until the fourth quarter. Northwestern exploited Indiana's inexperienced secondary all day, as Dan Persa finished 16-of-20 for 261 yards and 3 TDs passing, and Kain Colter completed only two passes for 38 yards, but they both went for scores.
Game ball: Superback Drake Dunsmore set a Northwestern record with four touchdown catches against the Hoosiers. He caught 22-, 10- and 6-yard scores from Persa in the first half and a 9-yarder from Colter in the third quarter. Dunsmore wound up with seven catches for 145 yards, including a 45-yarder. He also set the NU all-time receiving yardage mark for a tight end during the game, finishing the game with 1,373 career receiving yards and 14 career TD receptions.
Turning point: With Northwestern's offense clicking on all cylinders, this one was over early. However, a first-quarter interception by Brian Peters seemed to swing the momentum the Wildcats' way in the first quarter. The Wildcats trailed 7-3 when Peters jumped an out route and picked off Tre Roberson to give NU the ball at the 42 yard-line. The Cats cashed in to take a 10-7 lead and never looked back.
Big play: It's hard to pick just one, as Northwestern rang up eight plays of 20 or more yards, including four passes. We will go with Persa's 57-yard completion to Colter in the second quarter. Persa scrambled to buy time and then, while rolling to his left, shot-putted the ball to Colter in the flat, and he took it down the sideline to the Indiana 10. Persa hit Dunsmore (who else?) on the next play to extend Northwestern's lead to 31-14.
Surprise of the day: Jacob Schmidt ran for a career-high 110 yards on 15 carries, including two touchdowns. The senior former walkon, who is used to barrelling up the middle with two hands on the ball, even had Northwestern's longest run of the day, a 32-yarder in the third quarter. It was the first 100-yard game of Schmidt's career.
Topic of conversation: Colter once again did it all for the Wildcats, amassing 191 yards of total offense. He had 38 yards and two TDs passing, 38 and one more score rushing, and a team-leading 115 yards on six catches as a receiver.