NIU 23, Northwestern 15

The Wildcats start 0-2 after losing to an in-state opponent.

Northwestern needed to pick up the pieces from last week to get its season back on track. Just when it looked like the team was starting to get it together, everything fell apart.

The Wildcats lost to Northern Illinois 23-15 in a game marred by a floundering offense, careless personal fouls and a few defensive slip-ups. Quarterback Trevor Siemian's accuracy improved, but faced a constant onslaught from Northern lllinois' front seven. Too often he held the ball too long, and got little assistance from his offensive line, which had a dreadful day.

Northwestern's defense started off strong and shut out the Huskies in the first half, but third-string quarterback Jordan Hare led NIU to 23 points in the second, completing six passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Both touchdown belonged to Da'Ron Brown, who torched Northwestern with six catches for 128 yards.

With receivers Tony Jones and Mike McHugh out with injuries, the Wildcats already had limited ammo with which to respond. While Kyle Prater (seven catches, 87 yards, one touchdown) and freshman running back Justin Jackson (12 carries, 52 yards) had successful days, the offense effectively fought itself into ineffectiveness.

The Wildcats lost 93 yards on nine penalties -- four of which were personal fouls, and could barely stop NIU's constant blitzing. It stunted drives with dropped passes, avoidable sack and overly conservative playcalling. It seemed like every time Northwestern started to build up a rhythm, everything came screeching to halt for one reason or another.

Saturday's loss drops Northwestern to 0-2 on the season and 1-9 since it lost to Ohio State last October on College GameDay. The Wildcats rest next week and will take on Western Illinois at Ryan Field on Sept. 20th.

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