BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Northwestern looked like it was playing a video game Saturday.
The Wildcats scored on nine of their first 10 possessions, piled up 616 total yards and ended a five-game losing streak with a 59-38 rout of Indiana that looked even easier than the score indicated.
The only time Northwestern (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten) failed to score before the fourth quarter was when it took a knee on the final two plays of the first half. And the only reason it failed to break the school's Big Ten scoring record was because the Wildcats finished the game with three straight kneeldowns inside the Hoosiers 20.
Dan Persa was 16 of 20 for 261 yards with three touchdowns before being pulled in the fourth quarter. Both of Kain Colter's completions went for scores, giving the Wildcats a record-tying five TD passes in the game. Colter also caught six passes for 115 yards and is believed to be the first 100-yard receiver with two touchdown passes in school history.
Tight end Drake Dunsmore broke the school's career record for yards receiving by a tight end with his second of a single-game record four scores. Three players had caught three TD passes before Saturday's game, the most recent being Jeremy Ebert, who did it against Illinois on Oct. 1.
How ugly was it?
Northwestern had 405 total yards, nine plays of 15 yards or more and ran 28 plays in Indiana territory, with Persa and Dunsmore hooking up for three scores -- just in the first half.
The Wildcats finished with 616 yards, short of the school record of 674 set in 2005 against Wisconsin.
Both defenses lived up to their reputations as two of the league's worst.
Indiana (1-8, 0-5) scored three first-half touchdowns on drives that consumed a total of 14 plays. The Hoosiers have now lost six straight and have allowed more than 40 points in four straight games for the first time since the end of the 2005 season, when they did it five games in a row.
Part of the explanation for Indiana's implosion was that it started seven freshmen on defense, the most of any Football Bowl Subdivision team all season.
After Indiana opened the scoring with a 12-yard TD run from Tre Roberson, Northwestern answered with 24 straight points -- a 37-yard field goal, a 29-yard TD pass from Colter to Ebert, a 1-yard TD run from Treyvon Green and a 22-yard TD pass from Persa to Dunsmore. That made it 24-7 just 34 seconds into the second quarter.
Things were about to get even worse for the Hoosiers.
D'Angelo Roberts made a nifty inside-out cut on a 26-yard TD run for Indiana to make it 24-14. But Persa fired right back with the 10-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Dunsmore.
Roberson took advantage when Northwestern fumbled a punt, hooking up with Duwyce Wilson on a 26-yard scoring strike on the next play to make it 31-21.
Persa then threw his third TD pass of the half to Dunsmore, a 6-yarder with 1:46 left to make it 38-21.
Not much changed in the second half. Colter opened the third quarter with the record-breaking 9-yard TD pass to Dunsmore, putting the Wildcats up by 45-21.
Northwestern's Jacob Schmidt ran 15 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns, while Dunsmore caught seven passes for 112 yards.
Roberson, a true freshman making his second career start, was 14 of 26 for 169 yards and one score and he ran 22 times for 121 yards and a TD. Stephen Houston ran 19 times for 151 yards and two scores.