Northwestern fell to Michigan 38-31 in overtime Saturday to bring its record to 7-3 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten play. The Cats' loss marked the third time in as many losses that Northwestern surrendered a fourth-quarter lead.
For NU players, coaches, and fans, this will likely be a tough game to swallow, but many key contributors stepped up in big ways for the Wildcats. For NU to finish the season strong, these players must continue to excel.
On defense, physical play from Quentin Williams, Brian Arnfelt, Damien Proby, and the rest of the front seven enabled NU to limit Michigan to 148 rushing yards on 32 attempts.
While the secondary -- hindered by the absence of starting cornerback Nick VanHoose -- struggled at times Saturday to stop Michigan’s passing game, senior safety Jared Carpenter notched arguably the best game of his career. Carpenter contributed seven tackles including a six-yard tackle for loss, a forced fumble, and two pass break-ups.
NU’s defense has needed someone to step up in the safety position next to stand out Ibraheim Campbell all year. And as the last few games of Carpenter’s career are now approaching, look for him to continue to make big plays down the stretch.
Michigan entered Saturday’s contest ranked seventh nationally in total defense, however, it could not contain a Wildcat offense that produced 431 total yards.
The Catss running game thrived once again. Kain Colter and Venric Mark combined for 217 rushing yards behind an o-line that was opening gaping holes all game long.
Another bright spot appeared at the end of the first half, when back up quarterback Trevor Siemian came off the bench to engineer a near perfect 2-minute offense resulting in a touchdown.
Colter is this team’s best option for consistent offense, however the ability to use Siemian in the 2-minute drill is an added bonus. Siemian looked much more comfortable Saturday than his last time out against Nebraska, connecting on six of seven pass attempts for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Michigan State will present another challenge next week for the Wildcats' offense, as another stout defense will line up across from it. Northwestern will need another strong effort from the offensive huddle in order to find a way to move the ball and put points on the board in East Lansing.
Jack DiNardo was a standout defensive tackle with Northwestern's winningest-ever senior class. He graduated with a degree in political science and is an associate at Cushman and Wakefield .