Welcome back to our 2012 throwback series. This is the fourth installment of our look back at the 2012 Indiana Hoosier football season. Today we are reviewing the Hoosiers Big Ten ten opener on the road against Northwestern. This game was the tale of two halves, which would come to be a common theme throughout the 2012 conference slate for Indiana. The Hoosiers had no answer for the Wildcats' do-everything star, Kain Colter. The offensive star propelled Northwestern to a 44-29 victory, handing the Hoosiers a loss in their conference opener while dropping them to 2-2 on the year.
Opponent: Northwestern Wildcats
Location: Saturday September, 29th | 12 pm | Ryan Field | Evanston, Illinois
Why They Played:
The Hoosiers and Wildcats are in separate divisions in the Big Ten, but have been scheduled as crossover opponents each year since the conference realignment. While the two teams have locked horns each year since 2007, their meeting in 2012 will be the last these two foes will meet until 2016 because of the second round of conference realignment. Northwestern leads the all-time series 34-45-1, including winning seven of the last eight meetings dating back to 2002.
What The Game Meant:
The Big Ten season can be seen as a fresh start for teams that had a difficult time with their non-conference opponents, such as the Hoosiers did in 2012. On the other hand it can be somewhat of a proving ground for teams that found success early in the season, as the Wildcats did. Although a team cannot be eliminated or clinch anything meaningful in just one game, the Big Ten opener often sets the tone for the rest of the season.
Top Offensive Performers:
Kofi Hughes, WR, Indiana- The Hoosier wideout lead the team with 5 catches as well as 110 yards receiving. He was able to find the end zone on the day as well. Hughes showed great hands and an ability to separate throughout the game.
Kain Colter, QB/WR, Northwestern- The Wildcat playmaker did everything in this game. He torched the Hoosiers on the ground for 161 yards and a whopping 4 touchdowns. He added to that 9 receptions for 131 yards. While the quarterback only threw 3 passes on the day, the Hoosiers could not find an answer for him when the ball was in his hands.
Top Defensive Performers:
Greg Heban, S, Indiana- The junior defensive back lead the effort again with 6 tackles and an interception. Although there were not many bright spots for a defense that allowed up 44 points and 704 total yards, Heban led by example, and tried to play Indiana back into the game.
Nick Vanhoose, CB, Northwestern- The Wildcat defensive back sparked his teams effort when he intercepted a Cam Coffman pass early in the first quarter. He tacked on 6 tackles for good measure to cap a outstanding performance in Week Four.
Special Team Performance:
The Indiana special teams did almost everything correctly on this day. Freshman Tevin Coleman returned a kick for a touchdown. In addition as a team the Hoosiers averaged a season best 36.5 yards per return. Punter Mitchell Voss had his best day punting averaging 39-yards per attempt with a long of 52, with two punts downed inside the 20-yard line. Even the kick coverage team got into the action, limiting dangerous return man Venrick Mark to just 21 kick return yards and a measly 2 yards on punt returns. While there are many positives to take from this performance there was one giant blemish on this almost perfect day. That wart was kicker Mitch Ewald’s errant attempt on a 20-yard field goal that would have given the Hoosiers a 3-0 lead, and some momentum, early in the ballgame.
Key Stat: 704
That is the total number of yards that the Northwestern offense rang up on the woeful Hoosier defense. It was such a tremendous performance that it set a new Northwestern record for most yards gained in a single game. The Hoosier defense simply could not come up with any answers to the riddle that was the Wildcats' offense.. Most of all the Hoosiers didn't know what to do to stop the Wildcat superman Kain Coulter when he had the ball in his hand.
Indiana had the chance to take the early lead in the game on a chip shot 20-yard field goal, but kicker Mitch Ewald missed it wide right. The Wildcats turned around and scored 27 unanswered points to take control of the game.
I Knew it was over when:
Kain Coulter scampered for a 22-yard touchdown with approximately 5 minutes remaining in the game answering the Hoosiers after they had just cut the Wildcat lead to 8 points.
Players of the Game:
Indiana- Kofi Hughes, Wide Receiver- The junior receiver put up very solid numbers against the Northwestern secondary, but it was not enough to lift the Hoosiers out of the 27-0 hole they dug themselves into.
Northwestern- Kain Coulter, Quarterback/Wide Receiver- The do it all player for the Wildcats looked like a better version of Antwan Randell-El in Week Four. The Hoosiers had no answer for Coulter as he ran around the field like a five-star athlete in a recruiting video. Thankfully the Hoosiers will never have to face-off against him again.
To say that this game was a disappointment is an understatement. Northwestern is a team that the Hoosiers usually play competitively despite their recent record. The fact that an offense such as Indiana's was shutout in the first half by an average Northwestern defense was a huge concern. Cam Coffman did not look sharp on the day and was replaced by true freshman Nate Sudfeld who played very well and led the Hoosiers to the comeback. Although they came back to cut the lead to just eight points in the fourth quarter, the 27-0 deficit that the Wildcats built up early was just too much to overcome.