Minnesota Beats Northwestern, Nears Top 25

The Gophers improved to 5-1 overall on the season and inched closer to cracking the Top 25 after defeating the Northwestern Wildcats 24-17 this past Saturday

After Saturday’s win at home against a Northwestern, Minnesota improved to 5-1 on the season and received 36 points in the AP Coaches poll, for reference, the #25 team received 148 points. The Gophers also gained ground in the USA Today Poll as they received 78 points there with the #25 team receiving 125 points. If the Gophers can win their homecoming game against Purdue as expected they have a very good shot of cracking the top 25 as their lone loss was to TCU who has looked like one of the nation's ten best teams. If Both Minnesota and Iowa can win their games before the battle for Floyd in three weeks we could see a top 25 matchup at TCF Bank Stadium for possibly the first time.

The Gophers never had much breathing room on Saturday as Northwestern gave them everything they could handle. Northwestern gashed the Gophers in the zone-running game numerous times, but at the end of the day they managed just 3.6 yards per carry. Northwestern also averaged just 5.38 yards per pass attempt while completing 64% of their passes. Looking at the box score it would appear that Northwestern outperformed the Gophers but the Gophers came away with the win.

How did they do it though? Defensively the numbers don’t look great but the Gophers got key stops and dominated the field position battle thanks to Peter Mortell. The Gophers Special Teams also had a 100-yard return from Sophomore CB Jalen Myrick, the fastest player on the Gophers team. Offensively, the Gophers were a bit conservative for much of the game which contributed to Northwestern’s stats looking a bit better. Offensively Cobb wasn’t able to crack the 100 yard rushing mark as he managed 97 yards on 30 carries and no touchdowns as the review both taken away a couple though Mitch Leidner scored on the next play on both. Speaking of Mitch Leidner, he had another solid day passing the ball going 10/15 and averaging nearly 10 yards an attempt. Mitch did have one bad interception, throwing into double coverage after locking onto Maxx when he had a wide open Donovahn Jones over the middle.

Defensively the Gophers once again saw a great performance from Damien Wilson and the secondary performed well though they did get burned a few times on timing routes that are hard to defend. The defense also was the recipient to possibly the worst roughing the passer call of the year, which extended a touchdown drive.

The Gophers will take on a 3-4 Purdue Boilermaker team next Saturday in a home contest at noon

Brice Marich also contributed to this report

For more Minnesota sports news, notes and discussion, especially recruiting coverage, follow Brice Marich on Twitter @BriceMarich

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