EVANSTON, Ill. -- Hey, at least Indiana didn’t give up 59 points to Northwestern again.
That’s the good news coming out of Evanston.
The bad news?
The Hoosiers resumed their Big Ten defensive patsy status. Northwestern rolled 44-29 Saturday afternoon at Ryan Field in a Big Ten opener. Last year the Wildcats won 59-38.
IU (2-2) has lost two straight. Northwestern improved to 5-0.
The Hoosiers gave themselves a chance by scoring 29 points in the first 16 minutes of the second half. But the perennially struggling defense couldn’t make the plays at the end.
Northwestern set a school record with 704 total yards. It had 36 first downs. Quarterback/receiver Kain Colter totaled 294 yards. He rushed for 161 yards and four touchdowns, threw for two yards and caught nine passes for 131 yards.
Indiana quarterback Cam Coffman completed 13 of 23 passes for 109 yards and an interception. Nate Sudfeld was 9-for-16 for 157 yards and a touchdown. Tailback Stephen Houston had 91 rushing yards.
IU, which is already without starting quarterback Tre Roberson due to a bad knee, briefly lost receiver Kofi Hughes to a knee injury in the second quarter. He returned and finished with five catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.
IU blew an early scoring opportunity set up by cornerback Greg Heban’s interception. Hughes made a great catch to get the ball to the Northwestern 11-yard line. The Hoosiers bogged down, then missed a 20-yard field.
The Wildcats responded with a six-play, 80-yard TD drive, all on the ground. Colter ran it in from the 8-yard line for a 7-0 lead.
Jeff Budzien’s 44-yard field goal gave Northwestern a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter. The Wildcats added Colter’s 8-yard TD run and Budzien’s 34-yard field goal to make it 20-0 at halftime.
The Hoosiers had just 145 total yards and five first downs in the first half.
Colter opened the second half with a 15-yard touchdown run for a 27-0 lead.
IU got back in the game with a pair of touchdowns on Houston’s 20-yard run and Hughes’ 35-yard catch from Sudfeld. The second TD came after defensive end John Laihinen stripped tailback Venric Mark of the ball and defensive tackle Larry Black recovered.
Tevin Coleman had a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. D’Angelo Roberts’ 2-yard touchdown run and Hughes’ 2-point conversion run made it 37-29 with 14 minutes left in the game
But Northwestern clinched it with Colter’s 22-yard TD run with 5:07 left.