Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald had watched his team lose three consecutive games entering play Saturday at Iowa. | AP
Updated: October 5, 2013 11:03PM
Northwestern proved it has the talent to hang with a team like Ohio State, but its inexperience in big games like the one it played with the Buckeyes Saturday night proved to be it undoing in a 40-30 loss.
Northwestern had a punt blocked and recovered in its own end zone for an Ohio State touchdown, got called for interfering with the punt returner int he second half and fumbled on a key fourth-and-one play in the fourth quarter in Buckeyes territory, looking to take the lead.
Throughout its out-of-conference schedule, Northwestern tied a hand behind its back when it came to Kain Colter.
The Wildcats knew that Colter, arguably the most athletic player to come through the program, has the ability to play every skill position on offense. Yet, they waited. Kept things vanilla, knowing that Colter is most effective when teams are playing a game of “Where’s Waldo” on the fly.
So it wasn’t until Saturday’s 40-30 loss to Ohio State that Northwestern actually used as he is most effective—without a definitive position.
Mirroring the way in which the conference season played out last year, Trevor Siemian had the majority of the passing attempts. But Colter was still involved in every facet of the offense.
Colter passed, ran and caught the ball for the Wildcats and was their go-to guy in the biggest moments of the game. He caught a nine-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter for the Wildcats’ first score of the game.
He followed that up with a two-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, spinning away from Ohio State safety Corey Brown before plunging into the end zone.
On both occasions Northwestern was down and they looked to Colter in the red zone to make a play. Each Colter score gave the Wildcats the lead immediately after trailing in the game.
The Buckeyes looked confused when Colter lined up at receiver, almost to suggest it wasn’t a major part of their preparation. Northwestern coaches might deny that they held anything back during their schedule of out-of-conference games, but Saturday proved that Northwestern’s offense is most threatening when Colter’s versatility is used to its max.