Wildcats Prove Readiness for Big Ten Play With a 38-7 Win Over South Dakota

Northwestern running back Venric Mark. (TIng Shen/Midway Madness)

As the Northwestern Wildcats got set to take on a seemingly weak opponent in South Dakota, Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald made it clear that the team would treat this last non-conference game just like any other. And as quarterback Kain Colter expressed postgame, the team did just that by maintaining their high level of play and having the expectation that they were going to win, something they took from their time with the Navy Seals. And as expected, the Wildcats stuck to the script in their dominating performance against South Dakota.

The Wildcats set the tone early, led by Venric Mark on an explosive 47-yard run on Northwestern’s first drive. Colter also completed both of his attempted passes in that series for nine yards, leading the squad to its first of many touchdowns on the day. But that was all Colter would see in the first, as he suffered a hard hit on a 10-yard run. Trevor Siemian took over under center, and after a rough sack, completed a pass to Tony Jones, who took the ball 42 yards. After a short rush by Tyris Jones, the Wildcats had their second score, and led South Dakota 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.

In the second, Northwestern remained consistent in their production by notching two more touchdowns and not allowing the South Dakota offense into Wildcat territory. Colter returned to begin the quarter, and led the ‘Cats in a quick touchdown drive, rushing for 24 yards and leaving the rest to Mark, who ran for 26. And while Colter couldn’t get anything going on the next drive, Siemian made a seamless transition in the next, completing for 21 yards and feeding to Mark for his third touchdown of the day. At half, Northwestern found themselves with a comfortable 28-0 lead.

Northwestern’s offense chugged on in the third, keeping control of the momentum of the game despite allowing a South Dakota touchdown. However, the Wildcats kept their scoreboard cushion by striking first on a Colter-led touchdown, with the exclamation point being a 33-yard touchdown run by Treyvon Green. After that, the offense calmed down with Colter at the helm the majority of the quarter. South Dakota quarterback Josh Vander Maten finally ran a successful drive, completing all four of his attempted passes and rushing for the Coyotes’ lone score of the game.

After South Dakota’s sole highlight, the Wildcats coasted in the fourth, adding three more on a Steve Flaherty field goal and securing a 38-7 victory. Third string QB Zack Oliver even saw some playing time, completing his only attempted pass for 13 yards. Northwestern’s statement-making win concludes their 4-0 run against non-conference teams, as they’ll take on Indiana next Saturday.

“We’re excited to have it be a home opener this year, and obviously, we’re very thankful to have the kind of schedule that we’ve had,” Fitzgerald said. “I thought we had a very professional-like approach and performance today. Now it’s time to get back in it and prepare for a team that has had a week off to prepare for us.”

Key Players:

Venric Mark (NU): The running back continued to showcase his speed with 120 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

Kain Colter (NU): Despite getting banged up in the first, the starting quarterback rushed for 38 yards, and completed seven of nine passes for 46 yards.

Josh Vander Maten (SD): The South Dakota quarterback all but carried his team, scoring their only touchdown and completing 17 of 33 for 189 yards.

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  • http://twitter.com/Illini_Sports Frank G.

    I wouldn’t say they proved their readiness with a win over a team like South Dakota. They didnt exactly do amazing against Syracuse, Vanderbilt, and Boston College, who are average teams.

    Yes, being 4-0 is great. They might even start 7-0, because of their weak schedule. Let’s see how they do against Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan, and Michigan State.

    • Willie

      Iowa is worse than all the teams they’ve beat. Syracuse is VERY good and NU hasn’t exactly played to their potential. That’s okay, you tried.