EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — This one hardly satisfied Northwestern.
Sure, the Wildcats remained unbeaten with another win over a BCS team, but there's plenty of room for improvement.
Mike Trumpy ran for 106 yards with a late touchdown, and Northwestern beat Boston College 22-13 on Saturday.
Jeff Budzien tied a school record with five field goals and the Wildcats (3-0) made it three wins over three BCS teams to start the season, ringing up 560 yards while running 100 plays in the process.
"It's scary," Budzien said. "We're not playing well for our standards. It's scary to think where we can go."
He got no argument from center Brandon Vitabile.
"I agree," he said. "We have so much more potential."
As easy as they made it look moving between the 20-yard lines, though, they had big issues once they got near the goal line. They didn't even reach the end zone until Trumpy's run in the closing minutes.
That happened after Northwestern downed a punt at the 1 to pin Boston College (1-2) against the goal line. The Eagles' Chase Rettig threw three incomplete passes, and Northwestern took over on the Boston College 44.
Then, after going three quarters against Vanderbilt the previous week before scoring a TD, Northwestern finally broke through in this one when Trumpy burst up the middle for a 27-yard scoring run that made it 22-13 with 1:37 remaining. It was a huge play for a junior coming off a season-ending knee injury last October.
"Really proud of him stepping up," coach Pat Fitzgerald said.
Trumpy really wasn't even on Boston College's radar.
Before Trumpy's run, Budzien's leg provided all the scoring for the Wildcats. Northwestern wasted several big chances, particularly in the early going, and had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns. But with their kicker on target, the Wildcats led most of the way to come out with the win hours after the school announced plans for a new lakefront athletics complex that will include a facility for football.
Kain Colter threw for 144 yards and ran for 66, while Trevor Siemian threw for 123 yards. Venric Mark ran for 77 yards but spent the fourth quarter on the sideline limping with an undisclosed lower body injury that Fitzgerald thought happened on a fumble late in the third. Vitabile made the recovery, and Budzien wound up kicking a 19-yarder to make it 15-10.
Trumpy's big run ultimately sealed another tight win after Northwestern squeezed by Syracuse and Vanderbilt.
Rettig came up big for Boston College, completing 24 of 44 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown. But the Eagles got nothing going on the ground, managing just 25 yards rushing.
"Rettig is a good quarterback," coach Frank Spaziani said. "But we've got to run the ball. You can't win like this. I don't know how many yards we rushed the ball for. I haven't seen the stats. Was it 10?"
Northwestern had chances to score touchdowns on all five possessions in the first half but settled for four field goals.
Budzien's 41-yarder at the end of the second quarter gave the Wildcats a 12-10 lead, but that came right after another blown chance. A leaping Kyle Prater deflected a wobbly pass from Siemian in the end zone that probably should have been caught anyway for a 23-yard TD.
Northwestern caught a break after Colter lost a fumble near midfield on its first possession of the third quarter.
Boston College took over at the Wildcats 45 and drove to the 5 before Rolandan Finch got stripped at the line by Brian Arnfelt, with Chi Chi Ariguzo recovering the ball for Northwestern.
That led to a 19-yarder by Budzien to make it 15-10 late in the third, but the field goal came after that fumble by Mark and another missed opportunity for a TD. This time, Colter overthrew a wide open Christian Jones in the end zone on second down at the 6, a play that the quarterback said was "eating me up."
Nate Freese pulled Boston College within two with a 34-yard field goal in the opening seconds of the fourth, but Northwestern ultimately prevailed despite its difficulties near the goal line.
Fitzgerald said many of the problems were "self-inflicted," whether it was penalties or drops or missing the open man. Those issues aside, he said he's learned a few things about his team through these first three games.
"I think we're starting to come together on both lines," he said. "That's what we wanted to see where we're at. Nobody else in the conference played three BCS teams, and we knew that we had to improve up front on both sides of the ball for us to win these football games and get us where we needed to go. I (don't) think we're a finished product by any stretch of the imagination."