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Northwestern defense inspired by Charles Tillman highlight film

Updated: December 19, 2012 4:04PM

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Partial credit for four turnovers forced by Northwestern’s defense in Saturday’s 23-20 victory at Michigan State on Saturday went to an unlikely source — Bears cornerback Charles Tillman.

Coach Pat Fitzgerald said he showed his team video of Tillman forcing four fumbles against the Titans earlier this season. His team responded with two official strips against the Spartans and a possible third by safety Jared Carpenter on Michigan State’s final play that was ruled an incomplete pass.

“I believe everybody in the country on defense has kind of been invigorated by Peanut Tillman,” Fitzgerald said. “I really do.”

Carpenter said he was aware of what Tillman has been doing before Fitzgerald showed him the video because he watches former teammates Sherrick McManis and Corey Wootton, who play for the Bears, as does former Wildcats linebacker Nick Roach.

“To see what Tillman has done on defense has certainly been inspiring, especially because I’ve been watching them a lot more often,” Carpenter said. “That stuff just rings in your head when you see the influence it can have on the game. It makes you want to do the same thing.”

Key injuries

The offense put together a game-winning drive and later picked up key first downs to milk the clock despite having its two most-proven playmakers watching from the bench.

Venric Mark re-aggravated an “upper extremity” injury he suffered in overtime against Michigan last week and did not play in the second half.

Mark entered the game as the Big Ten’s leader in total yards but had only six carries for seven yards in the first half. He was also relieved of his kickoff return duties.

Quarterback Kain Colter was injured late in the third quarter and gave way to backup Trevor Siemian, who completed 11 of 18 passes for 144 yards in the second half.

Colter and Mark told Fitzgerald after the game that they expected to play in the regular-season finale against Illinois next week.

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