A week after every writer picked Northwestern to beat South Dakota, they're all taking NU again. However, the points totals and margins of victory vary.
Kevin Trahan, Inside Northwestern: Northwestern 41, Indiana 17 — Indiana will score points; it won’t score as many as Syracuse — the Northwestern defense has improved since then — but it will score. Hoosiers quarterback Cameron Coffman will throw for a touchdown on a big play, but for the most part, the NU secondary will be okay. Indiana won’t get much of a rushing attack going, and since Coffman is much less mobile than Roberson, the Wildcats’ outstanding rush defense numbers will continue for another week. Offensively, NU will get off to another quick start and never look back. Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian will both have big days through the air and Venric Mark will put up another 100-yard game on the ground, helping NU improve to 5-0 and likely earn a spot in the top 25.
Chris Johnson, Inside Northwestern: Northwestern 38, Indiana 24 — The 4-0 nonconference record is an impressive chip for the Wildcats, but carrying that success into conference play is the more important feat. Starting out with a win against Indiana shouldn’t be a difficult task. The Hoosiers, sans Tre Roberson, its most dynamic offensive player and the key to Kevin Wilson’s uptempo attack, will not play in this game. Replacement Cameron Coffman has flashed a strong and accurate arm, but there’s little doubt the Hoosiers’ offense is far less imposing without Roberson under center. There are a wealth of playmakers for Coffman to work with, but I fully expect NU’s stingy defense to maintain the intensity it established week 2 against Vanderbilt and sustained victories over Boston College and South Dakota. The general dysfunction of Indiana obscures its offensive potential, but that won’t matter on Saturday. The Wildcats will stomp their first Big Ten opponent with ease. Roberson or not, IU simply doesn’t have the athletes to compete, especially on defense.
Chris Emma, PurpleWildcats.com: Northwestern 34, Indiana 14 — Northwestern will start fast, keep on the pedal, and cruise to 5-0 with a win over the Hoosiers. The Wildcat front four will create problems for Indiana quarterback Cameron Coffman, forcing him into throws. Meanwhile, the NU offense will continue to roll under its two-quarterback system, and Venric Mark will tally 100 more yards on the day. Look for another Wildcat winner at Ryan Field.
Jonathan Hodges, Hail To Purple: Northwestern 31, Indiana 24 — A few mistakes will keep this game a little uncomfortable for the Wildcats, but as they have been known to do NU will be able to pull out a relatively close win thanks to a bend-but-don't-break defense and a multi-threat offense that will put up points whenever it avoids mental errors. The Hoosiers will move the ball on NU through the air but the 'Cats will force some errors from IU late in order to seal the win.
Danny Moran, NBN Sports: Northwestern 41, Indiana 28 — Kain Colter will rip through this Indiana defense, who saw him mostly at receiver last season. He and Venric Mark will give the Wildcats the edge with their speed on the ground. Indiana’s two quarterbacks will give the secondary the most trouble they’ve had since Syracuse but the front seven will continue their stellar play and slow the Hoosiers down when it counts.
Jon Davis, Northwestern Highlights: Northwestern 31, Indiana 17 — I think we’ll finally get the quick start that we’ve been looking for and head into halftime with a 17-3 lead. Both teams exchange TDs in the second half and the game never enters Cardiac ‘Cat territory. We’ll also see more of the same on both sides of the ball. Balanced offense, some passing yards allowed, but tough against the run and pretty good on 3rd downs.
Dan Ryan, The Daily Northwestern: Northwestern 24, Indiana 17 — I think a lot of people are overlooking how well the Cats’ defense has been playing, especially with how many weapons the offense has (in theory). Indiana will probably move the ball well on a few series with screens and bootlegs to take advantage of NU’s weakness, but it won’t be enough. I also expect NU’s defense to make the necessary adjustments to slow the Hoosiers’ attack down. This one won’t be as close as the score.
Josh Walfish, The Daily Northwestern: Northwestern 38, Indiana 17 — Venric Mark goes for more than 100 yards and Colter throws a pair of touchdowns in the win. Indiana’s young quarterbacks will struggle against the rekindled Cats’ pass rush and get sacked four times. Also look out for Chi Chi Ariguzo to create a turnover.
Colin Becht, The Daily Northwestern: Northwestern 35, Indiana 27 — Indiana keeps with the Wildcats early and even takes a lead in the second quarter as the Northwestern defense adjusts to quarterback Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld. By midway through the second quarter, the defense figures out Indiana’s two-QB scheme and improves its play immensely. Venric Mark tops 100 yards with two touchdowns, and Kain Colter throws for 200 yards with another 50 on the ground.
Nick Medline, PurpleWildcats.com: Northwestern 14, Indiana 0 — Against Vanderbilt, Boston College and South Dakota - three-quarters of the early season - I felt as though the Wildcats defense nearly put together a complete game. You know those great young pitchers who dominate for 5 ⅓ innings before leaving a couple of fastballs up in the zone? They remind me of this unit. Indiana quarterback Cameron Coffman will probably see the bulk of the action, but he’s still a backup quarterback on a team that won one game last season. So, in sum: Northwestern gets an early touchdown, settles into a conservative Fitz style and witnesses a dominant performance from its front seven.