Rapid Recap: Northwestern 43, Maryland 3

Isaiah+Bowser+runs+the+football

Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

Isaiah Bowser runs the football. The junior running back scored two touchdowns in the Northwestern victory.

Peter Warren, Gameday Editor


Football


Someone text Sam Ehlinger because Northwestern is back.

After a disappointing 2019 season, the Wildcats came out of the gate hot and dominated an underwhelming Maryland squad 43-3 on a cold October night at Ryan Field.

NU (1-0, 1-0 Big Ten) looked like a completely different team Saturday than it did last year. Everything the Cats struggled in last season looked like a team strength. In the first half alone, NU scored 30 points — more than it scored in any Big Ten game last season — and finished the game with 535 total yards of offense. Defensively, the Cats had four turnovers and held Maryland to only 171 yards.

The Terrapins (0-1, 0-1 Big Ten) received the opening kickoff and had its best drive of the game on their first. Jack Funk had a huge 24-yard rush that put Maryland in field goal range and Joseph Petrino kicked it through the uprights to go up 3-0.

The lead only lasted for less than five minutes. In his first drive in purple, graduate transfer quarterback Peyton Ramsey looked like a butcher, cutting apart the Terrapin defense piece by piece. The drive last 14 plays with the final being an Isaiah Bowser touchdown run.

After an A.J. Hampton interception, NU needed only five plays to reach the end zone with a Ramsey run to go up 14-3.

In the second quarter, the Cats kept going on the attack, scoring 16 points on three field goals and a fantastic run from sophomore running back Drake Anderson for a touchdown. On defense, NU held Alabama transfer Taulia Tagovailoa and the Terrapins to only 86 yards in the half.

The Cats continued their prime showing with a great drive to start the second quarter. Propelled by two fourth down conversations, NU trudged down the field to the tune of 17 plays over eight minutes. Ramsey — who was 23-for-30 finished the drive with a beautiful lob toss to Bowser for six.

The rest of the way, the Cats continued to play well, even as the backups entered the contest. Redshirt freshman Evan Hull added a touchdown in the fourth to cap off the victory.

Takeaways

1. They might not have a chain, but the Wildcats’ were turnover machines. Almost every week last season, Pat Fitzgerald lamented his defense’s inability to force turnovers. On two of the first three Maryland possessions, NU forced premature endings with interceptions. A.J. Hampton undercut a pass for a smooth pick of Tagovailoa on the second Terrapins’ possession. When Maryland got the ball back, Tagovailoa attempted a deep ball but the ball found the hands of senior safety JR Pace. If the Cats can continue that production in the turnover game, it will be a very exciting season on defense.

2. Northwestern debuts varied and impressive running attack. Most of the offseason discussion was based around the quarterback position and the passing game. And while Peyton Ramsey looked as advertised Saturday night, the rushing game had a great night. In total, NU had 325 rushing yards on 53 carries. Bowser had 70 yards on 23 carries in his first full game in almost a year. Anderson looked great as a change-of-pace back with his impressive 37-yard gallop into the endzone as a highlight. And Mike Bajakian even had some jetsweeps and runs out of the backfield for wide receivers Kyric McGowan and Riley Lees, following his plan to get the pigskin in the hands of his playmakers. Maryland’s defense is poor, but this showing is a great sign of the potential of this offense going forward.

3. Charlie Kuhbander is looking good. Kuhbander’s inconsistency over the past two seasons has been the big talking point on the special teams side of the football. But the senior put on an impressive performance in the season opener. In the second quarter alone, he went 3-for-3 on field goals, including two from 43 yards away. The confidence of the Cats has to be through the roof after such a thorough demolishing and having Kuhbander at such a level will be huge going forward.

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Twitter: @thepeterwarre

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