Northwestern sets new record in victory over Indiana

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Northwestern sets new record in victory over Indiana

It started ugly and got interesting late, but in the end Indiana had no answer for the Northwestern offense.

The Wildcats set a school record with 704 yards of offense in a 44-29 win over Indiana Saturday afternoon at Ryan Field to begin the Big Ten season.

Kain Colter amassed 292 yards of offense, including 161 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, Venric Mark added 139 rushing yards of his own and quarterback Trevor Siemian threw for 308 yards in the Wildcats' Big Ten opener, moving them to 5-0 on the season.

But the record-setting day didnt start well. Colter threw an interception on Northwesterns second possession and attempted just three passes all afternoon, but made up for it on the ground and through the air. His 144 all-purpose yards in the first half helped the Wildcats to four scoring drives to race out to a 20-0 halftime lead.

I think theres a lot of ways we could go with this, Colter said, regarding his versatility. We finally decided to bring it out this week, and it was something we had planned for throughout the season. It worked pretty well today, I think we had season-highs in a bunch of different categories.

Siemian looked early and often for Colter, especially on third down. The two connected six times in the first half, including five times on third down, for 90 yards which all went for first downs. Colter finished with nine catches for 131 yards, while Siemian also fed wide receivers Christian Jones and Rashard Lawrence for four catches apiece.

Siemian finished 22-of-32 for 308 yards and an interception, and also had a touchdown pass dropped by wide receiver Demetrius Fields in the fourth quarter. Fitzgerald was pleased with what he called Siemians first start, due to the game plan to utilize Colter as a receiver and runner.

But it was Colter who carried Northwesterns momentum out of halftime and into the second half, scoring on a 15-yard touchdown run, his third of the game, to extend the lead to 27-0.

But the Hoosiers responded with their first score of the game, a 20-yard touchdown scamper from running back Stephen Houston, who finished with 91 yards on 11 rushes.

Less than two minutes later, a Mark fumble following a 25-yard run into enemy territory gave the Hoosiers the ball. Back-up quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who played most of the second half in place of starter Cameron Coffman, then found Kofi Hughes on a 35-yard touchdown pass to pull within two scores, 27-14.

We took some shots down the field and they made some incredible plays, Sudfeld said of his receivers. It was awesome to see just how great of plays they could make. They made me look a lot better than I was playing.

Sudfield finished 9-of-16 for 157 yards and a touchdown, while Coffman finished 13-of-23 with 109 yards and an interception.

Mark atoned for his fumble on the next possession, capping a seven-play, 75-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to extend the lead back to twenty.

But the Hoosiers struck again quickly, with Tevin Coleman going 96 yards on the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, cutting their deficit to 13 points. The Wildcats settled for a Jeff Budzien field goal on their next drive, his third of the game and 10th straight to begin the season.

The scoring barrage continued into the fourth quarter when Indiana's D'Angelo Roberts found the end zone to again cut the Hoosiers deficit, this time to 10, less than a minute in. An end-around to Hughes for a two-point conversion made it a one-possession game.

Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said the change in play from the first to the second half was a bout of his team losing itself rather than being outplayed.

I thought the only thing that really slowed us down today was us, he said. We had a plan, I thought the guys were executing it pretty well. One-man breakdowns, not picking things up that we expected to see, turnovers. You lose the turnover battle, you give up explosion plays, kickoff return yards like we did. We dodged a bullet today.

With the Wildcats on the move again midway through the fourth quarter, the Indiana defense came up with a rare second half stop when cornerback Alexander Cobb intercepted a Siemian pass intended for Colter. The halted drive set up the Hoosiers for a potential game-tying drive, but the Wildcats defense, behind Damien Proby's team-high 14 tackles, stepped up to force a three-and-out with less than nine minutes to go.

But as was the case much of the afternoon, the Hoosiers could not get a defensive stop when they needed it. Colter led an eight-play, 62-yard drive, capped off by his 22-yard rushing touchdown, to give the Wildcats a 15-point lead with less than six minutes to play.

Northwestern wins with heavy hearts

Before taking questions at his postgame press conference, Fitzgerald spoke about the hardships the team has gone through this week with the deaths of three Northwestern community members.

First and foremost, very difficult week around not only our football program, but around campus here, our football family and the greater Evanston community. We'd like to express our thoughts and prayers to the young Evanstonian, to our student and to Leon Brockmeiers family.

We dedicated the game on Monday to Leon's family and we want to lift them up in our thoughts and prayers. Obviously taken from us too soon. I know a lot of his teammates got together with his wife down in Florida today and were watching the game. Hopefully we made them proud and we've got two little guys and a beautiful woman that we're gonna need to support as we move forward. Very difficult week for our university and for our entire Wildcat family.

Sub-.500 Hawkeyes on four-game losing streak after home loss to Omaha

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USA TODAY

Sub-.500 Hawkeyes on four-game losing streak after home loss to Omaha

Things are not going too well in Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes saw their losing streak stretch to four games Saturday with an upsetting 98-89 home loss to Omaha.

Iowa has been a high-scoring team this season, entering the weekend with the Big Ten's No. 2 scoring offense at 85.6 points a game, but it's also been the league's worst defensive team, allowing an average of 85 points a game. And that's before the Mavericks nearly hit the century mark on Saturday.

The Hawkeyes were out-rebounded, including a big advantage for the Mavericks on the offensive boards, where they turned 19 offensive rebounds into 20 second-chance points. Omaha's bench outscored Iowa's bench, 37-9, and the Mavericks had a 40-26 scoring edge in the paint.

Trailing by six after allowing 53 first-half points, the Hawkeyes led for just 18 seconds over the game's final 21-plus minutes.

Peter Jok, the Big Ten's leading scorer, poured in 33 points in this one, though efficiency was not his strong suit, going 8-for-21 from the field. He added 10 rebounds for a double-double.

Iowa's losing streak stands at four, the loss to Omaha linking with losses to Virginia, Memphis and Notre Dame. In the last three games, the Hawkeyes have surrendered an average of 96.7 points. In four of their five losses on the season — the heretofore unmentioned one coming against Seton Hall — opponents have scored at least 91 points.

The Hawkeyes' only wins this season have come against Kennesaw State, Savannah State and Texas-Rio Grande Valley.

Iowa has five more non-conference games — including a date with ranked in-state rival Iowa State — prior to the start of Big Ten play at the end of the month.

Illini defense dominant in capping bounce-back week with win over VCU

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Illini defense dominant in capping bounce-back week with win over VCU

What a difference a week makes.

Last week was a nightmare for Illinois, with a home loss to Winthrop followed by back-to-back double-digit losses to West Virginia and Florida State in Brooklyn.

But things went much differently this week, with Tuesday's win over North Carolina State paired with a Saturday victory over VCU to make for a bounce-back stretch for a team that looked lost just a handful of days ago.

Saturday's win in Miami came in convincing fashion, Illinois victorious by a 64-46 score over a team that's been to six straight NCAA tournaments.

The Illinois defense held VCU to its lowest scoring output since 2005. The Illini held the Rams to just 30.2-percent shooting and 2-for-18 shooting from 3-point range.

The Illini fell behind early in this one but countered VCU's opening success with a 19-3 run that put them ahead by eight in the closing minutes of the first half. That run featured seven points from Leron Black and five from Maloclm Hill, the start of huge games for both guys. A Hill buzzer-beater at the half gave Illinois its biggest lead of the opening 20 minutes at 10.

VCU scored 11 straight points in the early stages of the second half to chop a 12-point Illinois lead all the way down to one. Things stayed close until a 10-3 run by the Illini — featuring eight points from Jalen Coleman-Lands — stretched the Illinois edge back out to double digits, an 11-point lead with about three minutes to go. After a pair of VCU free throws, Hill knocked down a 3-pointer with two and a half minutes left to seal the game, establishing a 12-point advantage the stretched to nearly 20 by the final horn.

Black finished the game with a career-high 18 points, coming close to a double-double with eight rebounds. Hill had 16 points and filled the stat sheet with five assists, three rebounds, two steals and a block. Coleman-Lands was an unusual oh-fer from 3-point range but still scored in double figures with 12 points. Tracy Abrams was a perfect 3-for-3 from deep, accounting for all nine of his points, and had six rebounds and four assists.

Illinois sits at 6-3 on the season, two games better than it was a week ago after back-to-back wins against name opponents. Four more non-conference games are on the docket — against IUPUI, Central Michigan, BYU and Missouri — before the start of Big Ten play at the end of the month.