"We've been putting up numbers, we've been scoring points, to actually finish and get the W, it's validating for all the work we did throughout the week," said Northwestern running back Jacob Schmidt, who finished with two touchdowns.
The feeling of frustration which Wildcat players carried for five games is no more. Instead, the team reconvened in the locker room with smiles after a victory.
"We were ecstatic," said Drake Dunsmore. "The locker room was going crazy. The coaches had smiles on their faces. This is where we need to be."
It wasn't pretty on both sides of the ball. The Wildcats' offense was phenomenal. NU rushed for 330 yards—led by Schmidt's 110 yards—while the passing game amounted for 299 yards. With all the success, Brandon Williams only had one punt—that coming in the fourth quarter.
Luckily, the 59 points posted by the Northwestern offense covered for a defense which surrendered 488 yards of offense to the Hoosiers.
For Pat Fitzgerald, the only important stat is the one win earned by the Wildcats.
"I'm never going to be prom king, we're not about sexy, we going to find a way to win," said Fitzgerald. "We got it done. That's all that matters."
The Wildcats were able to have success against a beleaguered Indiana defense who couldn't contain anything NU offensive coordinator Mick McCall through at them. Northwestern averaged 7.9 yards per play on offense.
"I thought from a plan standpoint we had a pretty good match," Fitzgerald said. "We thought schematically we could take advantage of some things if we executed. We needed to protect because we knew there was going to be pressure at certain times and again, I thought Mick [McCall] and the offensive staff came up with a good plan and the guys went out and executed it."
Indiana came out of the gates with fire, driving down the field for a 77-yard drive, capped off by a Tre Roberson touchdown run. That lead would be short-lived.
Leading 17-7 after a Treyvon Green touchdown run, the Wildcats would take control as Dan Persa found Drake Dunsmore for a 22-yard touchdown. This would start a record-breaking day for Dunsmore.
The senior superback would finish the game with four touchdown catches—a Northwestern record—while also passing Jon Harvey (1982-1983) as NU's all-time receiving yards leader for a tight end. He would finish the game with 112 yards on seven catches.
"He had a huge game for us, it was a bit of a difference-maker," said Pat Fitzgerald of Dunsmore's performance. "It's pretty spectacular and I'm proud of him."
Momentum was on Northwestern's side after Dunsmore's first touchdown catch. Their offense would not let up, as they picked apart the Hoosier's struggling defense.
We roiled," Schmidt said. "We came in and we executed the game like we planned and practiced."
The Wildcats now turn their attention to their first Big Ten matchup with the Nebraska Cornhuskers, which is viewed as another must-win to reach bowl eligibility.
So Kain Colter, when do you begin to focus on the Huskers?
The team will take to the practice field on Monday morning and begin preparations for the big game.