Pass-happy Wildcats strike first

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern is playing to its strength today, and it's working.

The Wildcats took to the air and attacked Michigan State on a 72-yard scoring drive. The Wildcats converted three third downs on passes, none bigger than a leaping grab by true freshman receiver Rashad Lawrence, who beat cornerback Johnny Adams for a 44-yard gain. Northwestern doesn't play many freshmen, but Lawrence looks like he belongs.

Northwestern's Dan Persa is showing why he's one of the nation's more underrated players. Persa has several nice scrambles and made a tough throw to Jeremy Ebert before absorbing a big hit by Eric Gordon on a blitz to set up first-and-goal. The junior then took it in on the next play in a Wildcat-like formation.

The play calling has been solid by Mick McCall, and Northwestern leads 7-0 with 5:11 left in the first quarter.