Game showcases running talent

By Sean Ostruszka

EVANSTON – It was a good old fashioned shoot-out Saturday. Er, well, maybe a run-off? Or track meet?

Whatever you call it, the running backs on both teams ran rampant in Evanston. Forget asking who the best team in Illinois is. After Saturday’s game, who’s the best running back?

Combine the stats of NIU’s Garrett Wolfe and Northwestern’s Tyrell Sutton to end up with over 450 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns. That’s not for the season, but just for that game. The two both ran for over seven yards per carry and each had more than 30 carries.

“It’s phenomenal for running backs being able to do what we did today,” Sutton said. “Wolfe is a great running back, a great guy, so it’s phenomenal to run against a back like that.”

People who said Wolfe couldn’t be successful outside the MAC may be eating their words.

The Huskies’ No. 1 really is No. 1 in the nation in rushing yards. And he’s also in the top six in every other offensive category.

Compared to Big Ten teams, Wolfe sits in the top two in every rushing category.

In two games against Big Ten opponents, the junior has rushed for 393 yards. Or 58 yards more than the leading Big Ten rusher, Minnesota’s Laurence Maroney.

Against NU, he had 245 yards on 34 carries. That’s a 7.2 average, not to mention three touchdowns.

“He’s a great instinctive runner,” said NIU coach Joe Novak. “He is one of the better running backs I’ve ever been around.”

But Wolfe wasn’t the only running back racking up the stats in Saturday’s game.

In a game that Northwestern quarterback Brett Basanez broke three all-time school records, it was the true-freshman Sutton who stole the show.

Sutton didn’t just play second fiddle to Wolfe. His 218 yards, 7.1 average and four touchdowns, the player who was Mr. Ohio in high school, propelled him to fourth in the nation in rushing. He’s up for the Cingular Wireless/ABC Sports All-America Player of the Week award.

With only 75 yards separating the two for the nations top runner, it could come down to the schedules to determine who ends up on top.

Wolfe won’t get another shot at a Big Ten team for the rest of the season. After Tennessee Tech, it’s MAC teams from here on out.

Sutton heads to ranked Arizona St. this weekend and then he’ll stay in the Midwest for the rest of his season. He hasn’t seen a Big Ten team yet in his college career.

Two running backs both showed off what they could do on Saturday.

So who’s better?