Rapid Reaction: Northwestern 48, Syracuse 27


Susan Du/Daily Senior Staffer

Junior quarterback Trevor Siemian drops back to pass. Siemian combined with senior Kain Colter to throw for 375 yards Saturday.

John Paschall, Assistant Gameday Editor

What went right for NU:

  • Where do we begin? The Wildcats imposed their will on the Orange immediately and didn’t let up. The quarterback play by senior Kain Colter and junior Trevor Siemian was outstanding. The offense put up 34 points in the first half, and junior wide receiver Tony Jones excelled, finishing the game with nine catches for 185 yards and a touchdown. The defense shut down the Orange’s rushing attack and made them one-dimensional.
  • Seeing Colter healthy had to make Cats fans feel a bit easier. Not only was he accurate with his throws, but he was also electric with his legs, rushing for 87 yards and a score. Although he took some big hits at the end of runs, Colter seemed fine after suffering a concussion in last week’s season opener against California.
  • The offensive line and running backs were also very impressive in their blitz pickup. Syracuse blitzed Northwestern early and often but the Cats’ blockers held their own. The Orange finished with three sacks, a couple of which were the result of scrambles as opposed to pressure.

What went wrong for NU:

  • It was bad news for the Cats to see senior running back Venric Mark unable to suit up for the game due to a lower-body injury. It’ll be interesting to see if he plays next week against Western Michigan or if coach Pat Fitzgerald gives his playmaker another game off to get healthy for conference play. Mark played sparingly in NU’s season opener after sustaining an injury during training camp. Last season, Mark rushed for more than 1,000 yards and was named an All-American punt returner.
  • A costly penalty hurt NU on Syracuse’s first scoring drive. Junior linebacker Collin Ellis, the star of last week’s game against Cal, took off his helmet intentionally and was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Cats picked up another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the fourth quarter.

What it means:

  • NU stays undefeated as its showdown with Ohio State looms on Oct. 5. The Cats should be favored heavily in their next two games before opening their Big Ten season with the Buckeyes.
  • The Cats also showed that they can put away an inferior opponent like the Orange. This trait will be necessary when Western Michigan comes to Evanston next week.

— John Paschall