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Kain Colter runs for four touchdowns, helps NU improve to 5-0

Northwestern's KaColter makes catch behind Indiana's Greg Heban during an NCAA college football game EvanstIll. Saturday Sept. 29 2012. (AP

Northwestern's Kain Colter makes catch behind Indiana's Greg Heban during an NCAA college football game in Evanston, Ill. on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Cherney)

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Updated: November 1, 2012 6:49AM

Not only did Kain Colter prove he is one of the most dynamic all-around performers in the Big Ten, but he reminded everyone Northwestern’s offense is more potent when its human Swiss Army knife is playing multiple positions.

Colter ran for 161 yards and four touchdowns and had 131 receiving yards on nine catches to lead the Wildcats to a 44-29 victory Saturday against Indiana at Ryan Field.

After Colter accounted for 294 of NU’s school-record 704 offensive yards, coach Pat Fitzgerald put future Big Ten opponents on notice. Locating Colter in the Wildcats’ offense might turn into a weekly game of Where’s Waldo.

‘‘We’re just getting started with the things we’re going to do there,’’ Fitzgerald said.

NU (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) has one of the deepest receiving corps in school history, which made what Colter did more impressive.

Colter was the starting quarterback in each of the Wildcats’ first four games but dominated at receiver Saturday. He was Trevor
Siemian’s go-to guy from the
moment he lined up split wide instead of behind center. Siemian threw to Colter on third down
seven times, and Colter picked up six first downs.

‘‘The cool thing is we can go a lot of ways with it,’’ Colter said of moving around offensively. ‘‘You could see Trevor at receiver and me at quarterback, throwing him the ball.’’

‘‘I like that a lot, actually,’’ Siemian said of that possibility. ‘‘I like the idea of me catching the ball.’’

Colter was the No. 1 quarterback and Siemian was No. 1A in NU’s first four games, but those roles were reversed against the Hoosiers (2-2, 0-1). Siemian did virtually all the passing, completing 22 of 32 passes for 308 yards.

Colter, meanwhile, excelled as a runner from the quarterback
position as the Wildcats unveiled a new look that had Colter faking the ball to speedy Venric Mark
before keeping it himself. His touchdown scampers of eight, eight, 15 and 22 yards all came on option keepers.

Colter working at receiver
during recent practices has been a well-kept secret. Fitzgerald said he wasn’t sure when he would
unveil the new look, but he decided the Big Ten opener was as good a time as any.

‘‘We’re just trying to find a way to get our best 11 on the field,’’ Fitzgerald said. ‘‘After the first four games, we said every time we took Kain off the field, we looked at ourselves as a coaching staff and said, ‘What are we doing here?’ Both those guys [Colter and Siemian] are in our best 11.’’

NU led 20-0 at the half, only to allow Indiana to score three third-quarter touchdowns. After the Hoosiers scored two quick touchdowns midway through the third quarter to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 27-14, it was Colter who helped NU answer by catching a 13-yard pass and breaking a 26-yard run on the ensuing drive to set up Mark’s one-yard scoring plunge.

Colter’s 22-yard touchdown run with 5:07 left gave the Wildcats a 15-point lead and put the game out of reach.

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