After a fast start, the Northwestern Wildcats had to hang on late to defeat the Minnesota Golden Gophers 21-13 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Northwestern's now bowl eligible for the fifth year in a row, extending the longest streak (by far) in program history.
Trailing 21-13 and without starting quarterback MarQueis Gray due to injury, backup Max Shortell led Minnesota 81 yards down to the Northwestern seven-yard line before turning it over on downs with just over two minutes left. After the Wildcats went three-and-out, a last ditch Gopher effort failed.
Northwestern got on the board on their first offensive play of the game after a Minnesota fumble on the opening kickoff gave the Wildcats the ball deep in Gopher territory. Wildcats running back Venric Mark scored from 26 yards out to grab a quick 7-0 lead just 11 seconds in.
Northwestern took a 21-10 lead into the half, but their offense was stymied by a stout Minnesota defense in the second half. Luckily for the Wildcats, their defense held strong and secured the win.
With the victory, Northwestern moved to 6-1 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten. Minnesota fell to 4-2 overall and 0-2 in the conference.
Box Score Hero: Mark was the clear star of the game with his 182 yards and two scores. Those 182 yards marked a career high.
Rankings Ramifications: Neither team was ranked heading into Saturday's action, and that's unlikely to change in the next poll.
But Did They Cover?: Northwestern was a 3.5-point favorite, so they covered. The over/under was set at 54, so this game went under.
Next Week's Schedule: The Wildcats will host the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Golden Gophers will travel to Wisconsin to take on the Badgers.