Other Campuses: Basanez leads Wildcats to victory over State

By Daily Northwestern

EAST LANSING, Mich. – After No. 21 Northwestern’s 49-14 domination of then-No. 22 Michigan State on Saturday, the Wildcats huddled in celebration on the Spartan Stadium turf.

The huddle then moved toward the section of about 1,000 NU fans who made the trip, where they laughed, shouted, then sang the NU fight song.

But one chant emerged when senior quarterback Brett Basanez, who had just outdueled Drew Stanton, the nation’s No. 1 passer, appeared — “Heisman.”

“He should be,” freshman running back Tyrell Sutton said when asked if the Cats’ leader is a candidate for the storied trophy. “I think so. I may be a little biased, but you don’t see too many quarterbacks coming out and having the passing efficiency as him, the poise and definitely the yards.”

Though Basanez and NU coach Randy Walker deflected trophy talk, one certain thing came out of the four-year starter’s record-breaking performance, they said — he’s a leader.

After the Cats allowed the Spartans to shoot down the field 75 yards in the game’s first 1:06 and then went three-and-out on offense, Basanez refused to allow a blowout.

Instead he pulled his offense aside.

“I told them (on the sideline), if they don’t want to be here, let’s get on the bus, because that first series was horrendous,” said Basanez, whose speech and play helped light a fire under NU, leading to a 49-0 run for more than 50 minutes.

Basanez engineered the Cats’ biggest win since 2001 with his arm and his command.

The two-time Big Ten player of the week completed 24-of-30 passes, an NU record for completion percentage, totalling 331 yards and two touchdowns. He added five rushes for 17 yards and two more touchdowns.

For the third-straight game and sixth time this season, Basanez threw no interceptions. He has just one on the season.

Basanez now sits in first place on NU’s all-time list in four offensive categories — pass completions, pass attempts, passing yards and total offense. He also earned his 20th-career win, passing Rose Bowl-era quarterback Steve Schnur as the Cats’ all-time winningest quarterback.

The Cats (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) are on a three-game winning streak and tied in the loss column for first place in the Big Ten. NU also is one win away from being bowl-eligible.

“Brett continues to give us things outside of playing football that are real special,” Walker said. “And that gives our football team a chance.”

Even with the Cats leading 35-7 with 6:34 to go in the third quarter and droves of Spartans fans pouring out of the stadium, Basanez refused to back down. The quarterback again gathered his offense on the sidelines — and this time told them not to let it slip away.

They didn’t, and that toughness caused senior linebacker Tim McGarigle to call Basanez “definitely the best quarterback in the Big Ten.”

-Patrick Dorsey