October 7, 2007

Career day for Bacher

After two straight subpar outings, Northwestern quarterback C.J. Bacher proved on Saturday that if given time, he can carve up a defense and light up a scoreboard with the best of them.

Bacher completed 38 of 48 passes for a school-record 520 yards and five touchdowns in the Wildcats' 48-41 overtime defeat of Michigan State. His 520 yards broke the record of 513 set by Brett Basanez against TCU in 2004, and his five touchdowns tied Mitch Anderson, who threw for as many against Minnesota in 1973. His 79.2 percent completion percentage just missed a Northwestern record, as well.

Coming off of a game in which he accounted for five turnovers and a three-game stretch in which he'd thrown seven interceptions without a touchdown pass, Bacher proved that if his line can protect him, he can make this offense look like it did in 2005, when the Basanez-led Wildcats led the Big Ten in total offense.

"When C.J. plays like he did today, when the offensive line plays like they did today, and when the wide receivers play like we did today, we are all clicking on the same cylinder, it is an awesome thing," said wide receiver Eric Peterman, who led the Wildcats with a career-high nine catches for a career-best 141 yards. "We know that, and have the confidence that C.J. can play like that every week."

Bacher was masterful on Saturday, completing passes to 10 different Northwestern receivers. And he was at his best when it counted most - he was a near-perfect 9 of 10 on third downs, helping the Wildcats convert an unheard of 68 percent of their third-down plays (13 of 19).

Many of those third downs were long ones, as well. On the Cats' very first drive of the day, Bacher twice converted third-and-10 situations by hitting Kim Thompson for 24 and 22 yards. That opening drive resulted in a touchdown, and those third-down plays seemed to establish a precedent for Bacher and the Wildcats.

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