Gator Bowl 2013: Kain Colter Will Lead Northwestern to Win vs. Mississippi St.

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistJanuary 1, 2013

EVANSTON, IL - SEPTEMBER 29:  Kain Colter #2 of the Northwestern Wildcats runs for a touchdown against the Indiana Hoosiers at Ryan Field on September 29, 2012 in Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern defeated Indiana 44-29.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If you don't know who Kain Colter is, do yourself a favor and tune into ESPN2 at noon on New Year's Day.

You'll know who he is long before the time the 2013 Gator Bowl between Colter's Northwestern Wildcats (9-3) and Mississippi State (8-4) comes to an end.

Colter, Northwestern's dynamic junior starting quarterback, is one of the most versatile—and explosive—players in the nation.

While he's the starting quarterback, Colter isn't even the leading passer for the Wildcats. That honor falls to sophomore Trevor Siemian, who has completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,192 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.

When Colter does pass the ball, he's incredibly accurate. On the season, he has completed more than 68 percent of his throws for nearly 800 yards and eight touchdowns, tossing a pair of interceptions—and only one of those has come over his past seven games.

But Colter is more than just a quarterback.

Like any respectable Big Ten program, Northwestern loves to run the ball. Colter is a major reason why the Wildcats' ground attack ranks 14th in the nation.

He's the team's second-leading rusher behind Venric Mark, carrying the ball 158 times for 820 yards and a dozen touchdowns, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. 

Colter is sixth on the team in receiving yardage, catching 16 passes for 169 yards, averaging 10.6 yards per reception.

Colter is capable of breaking long runs when he takes off downfield, and he's athletic and intelligent enough to avoid pressure when scanning the field for an open receiver.

Mississippi State has been vulnerable against the run, surrendering four yards per carry. The Bulldogs pass defense was frequently torched late in the season, a big reason why the Bulldogs limp into the Outback Bowl having lost four of their last five games.

While Mississippi State outside linebacker Cameron Lawrence was named to the All-SEC Team, not even he can slow Colter down.

Colter's versatility makes him almost impossible to contain.

He'll make his presence felt against the Bulldogs in multiple ways, leading Northwestern to its first bowl win since 1949.