By Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune –
EVANSTON, Ill. — Did Northwestern discover a new quarterback Saturday? No, NU coach Pat Fitzgerald simply dusted off an old one.
His name: Theodis Kain Colter.
This was Colter’s team when the Wildcats broke camp in August. It’s his again after he rushed for a career-high 171 yards, fired a 47-yard touchdown pass to Christian Jones and was under center for 57 of NU’s 59 official plays in Northwestern’s 28-17 victory over Iowa at Ryan Field.
With Trevor Siemian the main man against Penn State and Nebraska, the Wildcats attempted 35-plus passes and lost both games.
Against Iowa, the balance of power shifted to the ground: 349 rushing yards, 84 through the air.
“When you can dominate the line of scrimmage, get yards running the ball and take time off the clock, that’s huge,” Colter said. “I feel like that’s what we have to do to win games.”
Venric Mark won’t argue with that. NU’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Tyrell Sutton in 2006 gained 162 on Saturday, and it could have been more. He had his sights on a 99-yard touchdown run, but Iowa safety Micah Hyde caught him from behind after he made it 72 yards.
Mark simply praised Hyde, calling his effort “a great play.”
Fitzgerald was more expressive: “I’m excited that Micah is graduating. I think he made some money (improving his NFL draft stock) by running him down.”
Fitzgerald also joked about lobbying NU President Morton Schapiro to install a JumboTron at Ryan Field. The big screen helped Jeremy Ebert last year at Nebraska on an 81-yard touchdown catch.
“(Ebert) made a little turn as the guy was coming to get him,” Fitzgerald noted.
By beating Iowa for the sixth time in their last eight meetings, the Wildcats scored a Homecoming victory and improved to 7-2 and 3-2 in the Big Ten, remaining in the race for a Big Ten championship.
Fitzgerald said his team is in position to have a “significant November,” and got in a little shot at the media: “It’s amazing. When we lose, it’s like the sky is falling. It’s all I read, it’s all I see and it’s all our kids see. They have done a great job of not listening to the negative. We’re a seven-win football team and I’d like everyone not to forget that. The credit goes to the kids.”
Those kids were on the verge of turning the game into a rout — up 28-10 in the fourth quarter with first-and-goal at the Iowa 3. Then Brandon Vitabile’s shotgun snap sailed past Colter’s right shoulder, resulting in a fumble.
Iowa (4-4, 2-2) scored to make it 28-17, thanks to a pair of NU penalties, and the Hawkeyes drove to NU’s 24 with two minutes left.
Rather than attempt a 41-yard field goal, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz went for it on fourth-and-3. James Vandenberg threw incomplete to a well-covered Tevaun Smith.
Colter sealed the victory with a 39-yard run and open-field slide.
As modest as Colter’s 80 passing yards seemed, it was his highest total since the Week 3 victory over Boston College. And his perfectly lofted 47-yard strike to Jones should put to rest the concern that his shoulder is injured.
“We were able to get back to throwing the ball again,” he said. “That was great.”