The No. 22 Northwestern Wildcats staved off an upset bid on the road to capture their season opener over the California Bears, 44-30, in a shootout on Saturday night. The Wildcats won thanks to a pair of interception returns for touchdowns by linebacker Collin Ellis.
Northwestern trailed in the third quarter when Ellis returned a pass from Cal quarterback Jared Goff 56 yards for a 27-24 lead. Cal tied the game at 27-27 when kicker Vincenzo D'Amato opened the fourth quarter with one of his three field goals on the night.
The WIldcats answered with a field goal of their own to retake the lead, then followed it up with their second pick-six of the night. Ellis intercepted Goff and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown to give Northwestern a 37-27 lead with 7:57 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The teams combined for more than 1,000 yards of offense, with Cal out-gaining Northwestern 548 yards to 508.
Box Score Hero: Tailback Treyvon Green ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries for Northwestern. His biggest run of the game was a 55-yard run up the sideline on the Wildcats' final drive to put the game on ice, a drive punctuated by a six-yard touchdown run by Green.
Rankings Ramifications: The Wildcats were ranked No. 22 in both polls, and could rise a few spots after the road win.
But Did They Cover? Northwestern was favored by 6 points, and thanks to its fourth quarter output, was able to cover the spread with ease.
Next Week's Schedule: Northwestern hosts Syracuse in its home opener on Sept. 7, while Cal stays in Berekley to host Portland State on Sept. 7.