With Mark listed as "day-to-day" for the extent of his injury, many guessed that he could have returned if, say, NU played Ohio State last weekend. But PurpleWildcats.com learned that Mark's injury concerned his right hamstring—which only recently neared full strength. (He shouldn't have played in the Cal game. It's borderline indefensible.)
Here he was, the All-American in his first game back, gutsy as expected. Mark gained 60 yards on 17 carries, impressive numbers against the stellar Ohio State front. He also added four catches for 43 yards. The workload itself might mean more: Getting stronger by the week, Mark's in line to lead NU through the Big Ten season.
The senior showed the same fearless qualities we grew to admire. Regardless of what "percent" health he reached, at times he looked perfect. He bowled over defenders, seemed comfortable in the screen passing game and flashed zone read success alongside Kain Colter.
He'll be forced to recover quickly, as the Wildcats face another massive challenge at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday. Offensive coordinator Mick McCall leaned on Mark in his OSU gameplan, with Green and Mike Trumpy combining to take only eight carries.
NU had another big-game setback, though it didn't arrive without promise. The Wildcats' star running back returned in time. They have seven games to make the Big Ten Championship run, a likely rematch with OSU waiting. They're moving to new challenges, and as promised, Venric is back.