EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — South Dakota coach Joe Glenn couldn't hold back. So he fired away.
Glenn spared no one after the Coyotes' 38-7 loss to Northwestern on Saturday afternoon, using words such as "pathetic" to describe a performance that he insisted sickened him.
"I understand getting beat by Northwestern, but I don't understand beating ourselves," he said.
South Dakota couldn't stop Venric Mark, who ran for 117 yards and three touchdowns, but the problems went beyond that. Center Tim Ross botched several snaps on a day when the offense never got going and the defense was overmatched.
It all added up to this: A game that appeared to be a breather for Northwestern coming in, turning out to be just that. The Wildcats (4-0) barely broke a sweat against a FCS opponent after tight victories over Syracuse, Vanderbilt and Boston College, building a 28-0 halftime lead with Mark going off for 97 yards and doing all his scoring.
The only real scare in this one came when Kain Colter took a hard hit from South Dakota's Chris Frierson at the end of a 10-yard run rather than slide. He landed on his left wrist, which has been bothering him since the opener against Syracuse, and spent most of the first quarter on the sideline. But Colter came back and finished with 46 yards passing and 38 rushing.
Running back Mike Trumpy, meanwhile, sat out the first half and ran for just 10 yards, after going for 106 and a touchdown the previous week against Boston College in a game that coach Pat Fitzgerald said left him "a little banged up."
Northwestern wanted to limit the touches for Trumpy and Mark. But with Mark making the most of his 16 carries, the Wildcats wound up with 277 yards on the ground and 408 overall.
Trevor Siemian added 72 yards passing. Quentin Williams came up big for the defense with two pass breakups and a sack, and the Wildcats remained unbeaten heading into their Big Ten opener against Indiana.
"The mentality our team likes to take is that it's a clean slate for us now," Williams said. "While we did go 4-0 in nonconference, it doesn't mean much if we don't do well in conference. ... We're in a great place right now, but we have a long way to go and we're going to work toward that."
As for South Dakota (1-2)?
"I want to tell you how sick I was at halftime," Glenn said. "We didn't have to help them. We made way too many mistakes that had nothing to do with Northwestern."
Josh Vander Maten threw for 189 yards in the game, but the Coyotes managed just 51 on the ground and fell to 2-26 against the Big Ten. That wasn't good. Nor were the botched snaps by Ross, the lone senior starting on the line. One late when Vander Maten wasn't looking led to a TD run by Mark that made it 28-0, and while Vander Maten said "butterflies" and "jitters" played a role, Glenn wasn't sure.
Either way, it can't happen.
"We need to learn from that," Vander Maten said.
By then, the game was basically out of hand, anyway.
Northwestern had no trouble finding the end zone after struggling to get there the previous week despite racking up 560 yards against Boston College. This time, the Wildcats scored touchdowns on their first two possessions, and Mark was the one setting the tone.
He broke off a 47-yard run on the game's second play from scrimmage and capped the opening drive by carrying it in from the 4, a good start after he sat out the final quarter the previous week with a lower body injury. And things just got better for Mark and the Wildcats after that.
Tyris Jones scored on a 5-yard run on their next possession after Siemian and Tony Jones connected on a 42-yard gain, and it became a 21-point game midway through the second quarter.
Northwestern started on its 43 after a 17-yard punt by Cole Zwiefelhofer and quickly took advantage. Colter scrambled 24 yards, and Mark finished the drive, crashing through the line for a 6-yard touchdown that made it 21-0.
Things only got worse for South Dakota in the closing minutes of the half.
Vander Maten wasn't ready for the snap, and the ball hit him in the knees. Northwestern took over at the South Dakota 28, and Mark scored on a 4-yard run with 52 seconds left.
"Three games into the season, this isn't the first time it has happened," Glenn said. "(Ross is) having trouble with it already, and now, I'm concerned about it. We don't have another guy right now at center. Tim has to come through for us."