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at Northwestern 42 … Eastern Illinois 21

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 10, 2011


Week 2 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Eastern Illinois at Northwestern

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 2 - EIU at Northwestern

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- at Northwestern 42 … Eastern Illinois 21
CFN Analysis: COMING

(AP) EVANSTON, Ill. -- Kain Colter delivered again while filling in for star Dan Persa, running for a career-high 109 yards with three touchdowns and throwing for 104 more to lead Northwestern to a 42-21 victory over Eastern Illinois on Saturday.

With Persa in uniform but still recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon, Colter came through with another impressive performance after leading the Wildcats to a 24-17 win at Boston College in the opener.

The sophomore wound up with more than 100 yards rushing for the second time in his career. He took a big hit to the right shoulder from Nick Beard on an 8-yard TD run early in the third quarter but came back in after sitting out one series.

When he wasn't running by the Panthers (1-1), he completed 10 of 13 passes without an interception to lead Northwestern (2-0) to an easy win over an FCS opponent.

Bryce McNaul had an interception on the game's first possession, setting up Colter's first TD run, and the Wildcats never really looked back.

They racked up 437 yards in all and 320 on the ground while running away with this one.

Northwestern paid tribute to the 9/11 attacks by painting the big "N" at midfield and on its helmets red, white and blue instead of the usual purple. Flight crews from United and American airlines were on hand, as were members of the Evanston police and fire departments, and a large flag was unfurled on the field before a moment of silence.

Once the game started, it didn't take long for Northwestern to take the lead.

McNaul picked off the Panthers' Jimmy Garoppolo on the game's fourth play from scrimmage, setting up a 5-yard touchdown run by Colter. Back-to-back fumbled snaps by Garoppolo on the next possession stalled a drive to the Wildcats 26, and Northwestern responded by going 65 yards the other way, with Jacob Schmidt running it in from the 1.

Just like that, Northwestern was up 14-0 and on its way.

The only glitch came midway through the second quarter, when Jeff Budzien missed a 45-yard field goal, and Garoppolo connected with a wide open Kenny Whittaker on a 72-yard touchdown that briefly made it a seven-point game. Colter responded with a 4-yard touchdown run, and Treyvon Green made it 28-7 when he ran it in from the 2 with 31 seconds left in the half.

Garoppolo threw for 209 yards, but those early mistakes helped set the tone as Eastern Illinois fell to 0-6 against Big Ten teams -- all in the last six years.

Colter simply tore through the Panthers after throwing for 197 yards and running for 71 with a TD against Boston College.

Persa's return, meanwhile, remains up in the air, with Northwestern visiting Army next week and Illinois after a bye for its Big Ten opener.

Touted by the school as a Heisman candidate, he hasn't played since he threw the winning touchdown against Iowa last November. He crumbled to the ground as he turned to run to his celebrating teammates and the Wildcats dropped their final three games to finish 7-6.
 
Eastern Illinois (1-0) at Northwestern (1-0)
Sept. 10, 3:30, BTN
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Here’s The Deal … It flew way, way, way under the radar on the opening weekend with so many big storylines, but Northwestern came up with a tremendous road win over a brand name team beating Boston College 24-17 to kick off the season with a bang. Even without starting quarterback Dan Persa, who’s still out with an Achilles injury suffered late last year, the Wildcats managed to get the offense moving while the defense bend but didn’t do too much breaking. With a winnable game against Army next week, the Cats can start out 3-0 before the Big Ten opener at Illinois, but Eastern Illinois isn’t a true cupcake.

Legendary head coach Bob Spoo is in his final year at EIU, and he started out the season with a bang seeing his offense light up and his defense get aggressive in a 33-26 win over a decent Illinois State team. This is EIU’s first time going against Northwestern and it’s the team’s only game this year against an FBS team. Winning the Ohio Valley Conference is the team’s ultimate goal to close out the Spoo era, but beating Northwestern would be a season-maker.

Why Eastern Illinois Might Win: The Panthers should be able to get the passing game rolling. The EIU offense was surprisingly ineffective last year, but it found the air attack in the season opener lighting up Illinois State for 304 yards with a brutally effective attack that did a fantastic job of holding on to the ball and controlling the game. Boston College hasn’t thrown the ball on anyone of note since Matt Ryan was slinging it around, but Chase Retting bombed away for 351 yards against the Wildcats last week, with Ifanyi Momah catching eight passes for 171 yards. EIU should be able to push the Northwestern secondary and should be able to stay in the game.

Why Northwestern Might Win: It’s not like Eastern Illinois stopped Illinois State last week, but it came up with four takeaways and didn’t have the ball enough, holding on to it for just 25:16. The Wildcats, even without Persa, moved the ball well and only gave the ball away once against a strong Boston College defense – and that was because Luke Kuechly made a tremendous interception. The running game was effective, the passing game worked, and the team came up with the timely play when needed. The defense might have struggled against the BC passing game, but it came up with just enough big stops to get off the field. Even though BC’s Andre Williams ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns, EIU isn’t going to run the ball against the Wildcat front seven.

What To Watch Out For: The plan is to keep Dan Persa out until the Big Ten opener. The aching Achilles is close, but every week of rest is a major plus, and it helps that Kain Colter proved he could get the job done. The sophomore is a 6-0, 190-pound baller and is the team’s best running quarterback, and he stepped in for stretches last year completing 3-of-9 passes for 38 yards and a pick while running for 143 yards and two scores with 105 yards and two touchdowns against Texas Tech in the bowl loss. Everyone knew he could run, and he finished second on the team with 71 yards and a score last week against BC, but he was stunningly effective through the air completing 17-of-24 passes for 197 yards with a pick.

Eastern Illinois was looking for a big lift from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo after a disappointing and mediocre 2009 season, and it came in the first game with a 25-of-34, 304-yard, three score performance, and he also ran for a score. He was under pressure for most of the game and still came through, and he’s going to keep pressing and keep bothering a NU secondary that’s a bit suspect after struggling so much last week.

What Will Happen: Eastern Illinois will put up plenty of passing yards and will make this interesting, but the Wildcats will move the ball without a problem with a balanced attack and another great game from Coulter. It’ll take at least a half for everyone to feel comfortable and for NU to put it away. Even with more struggles on defense, the Cats will get start out 2-0 for a fifth straight season.

CFN Prediction: Northwestern 37 … Eastern Illinois 20
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