Northwestern Wildcats Unspectacular but Solid in Win

By Derek Helling
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t a convincing win. In fact, the 17th ranked Northwestern Wildcats needed a couple of big defensive plays to beat Maine at home. The Wildcats kept rolling along nonetheless thanks to those two plays on defense and a decent offensive performance.

This is a classic example of what Northwestern has become under Pat Fitzgerald. They aren’t going to wow any crowds with a ton of big plays or piling up huge numbers. The focus is on piling up wins in whatever way possible.

The Bears’ offense outperformed the Wildcats in most offensive categories. Maine outgained the Wildcats 379-373, had more first downs, were penalized less, won the time of possession battle and had a better third down percentage. The two areas in which Northwestern beat them, however, were the most important. The Wildcats forced three turnovers and allowed only 21 points.

Northwestern built a 21-0 lead on a Kain Colter to Tony Jones touchdown pass and interception return touchdowns by Damien Proby and Dean Lowry that went late into the first half. From that point the closest the Bears got was 28-14 with 11:06 left in the game. The Wildcats showed maturity by being able to answer every drive by the Bears with one of their own.

Colter finished the game 5-for-9 for 85 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Colter also rushed for 38 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. The other quarterback in Northwestern’s two quarterback system, Trevor Siemian, finished 5-for-8 for 37 yards.

Leading the Wildcats in rushing for the game was Mike Trumpy, who rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Tony Jones led Northwestern with six receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown.

The offensive numbers were just a little under the norm for the Wildcats. Northwestern is averaging 41 points, 233 passing yards and 249 rushing yards per game so far this season. On defense, the numbers were actually a little better. The averages through four games for the Wildcat defense are 23 points and 426 yards of offense allowed.

The Wildcats have a bye week and then open up Big 10 play October 5 at home against the 4th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. In order for Northwestern to stay undefeated, they will need more of the same solid execution that they have gotten to this point.

Derek Helling is a Big 10 football writer for Follow him on Twitter @DRokSH, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+

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