EVANSTON, Ill. -- Throughout Saturday's homecoming game against Iowa, Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter proved he's the real deal, leading the Wildcats to a 28-17 victory. The offense wasted no time, opening the game with an 11-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a 5-yard touchdown run by Colter.
"He's dynamic, an explosive athlete who can do a lot of things and do them well," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said when discussing Colter's performance. "Every time he touches the football he has a chance to make a big play happen.
"He's understanding how tough it is to play the Big Ten grind. And he's got to play smart, he's got to get himself down and avoid some contact. And of any game this year, he did that very well here today."
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz was also very impressed with Colter, who rushed for 166 yards on 26 carries.
"He is just a very explosive athlete," Ferentz said. "Both him and [Venric] Mark, they're quick, smart and instinctive. He did a good job against us last year. I'm not totally surprised how they played it today. I don't know what their plan was going on, but they were having good success with that.
"He is a tough guy to contain. Running quarterbacks, I can think of three right now in our conference, including him. It's very, very challenging to defend."
After Colter's first touchdown of the day, Iowa retaliated with an 11-play drive covering 52 yards, but the Hawkeyes were unable to find the end zone. A 40-yard field goal from kicker Mike Meyer put the visiting team on the board, but it wasn't enough to give his team momentum to come alive in the first quarter.
"We didn't execute a lot of drives that we moved the ball well [on]," Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg said on keeping up with Northwestern's offense. "When you're playing a really talented offense, like they are, they're going to score points."
The Wildcats did just that, repeating their aggressive start in the second quarter as a 72-yard run from Mark brought his team to the 27 yard line where he continued to rush an additional three yards -- marking his 1,000th rushing yard on the season -- that lead to another Colter touchdown with 11:44 left on the clock.
Right after the half, Northwestern scored two more touchdowns as Colter rushed for four yards following a blocked punt by running back Tyris Jones. Less than 60 seconds later, Colter completed a 47-yard pass to wide receiver Christian Jones for a touchdown that gave the Wildcats a 28-3 lead.
"We're running the ball well and that's a key to victory," Colter said. "When you can dominate the line of scrimmage and control the clock, that's always a good thing."
Iowa scored two more touchdowns before the end of the game, sending some worry through Ryan Field, especially after Northwestern's recent defensive struggles late in the games this season, but the Wildcats held the Hawkeyes off.
Colter's explosive performance proved how dynamic of a player he can be as his battle for starting quarterback with sophomore Trevor Siemian continues. But even after today's impressive statistics, Fitzgerald said there's still no set plan for the quarterback tandem moving forward.
"I don't know, I mean, the answer is we are going to do everything we can to win... The game plan will dictate what we are going to do and what we see," Fitzgerald said. "But as far as what we are going to do and what I'm going to say, I'm going to tell you nothing and smile."