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Minnesota vs. Northwestern: Preview, TV Channel-Listing, Weather Week 7 - Gophers And Wildcats Battle For The Big Ten West

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An important B1G West game involving Minnesota and Northwestern? In Week 7? These are crazy times we're living in.

David Banks

Opening Thoughts

Week 7 ya'll! While I'm still getting used to the whole "big game in early October" thing for the Gophers, I definitely like it. Minnesota enters the game 4-1 (1-0 B1G). A win puts Minnesota in position to start the season 4-0 in the Big Ten, with a vulnerable Iowa squad coming to Minneapolis following a bye as their 5th conference opponent. Think on that. Minnesota could be 8-1 (5-0) and ranked headed into their game with Ohio State on 11/15. But that all goes "poof" if the Gophers don't buckle down and take care of things tomorrow.

For Northwestern, this is a chance to extend their early lead in the race for the Big Ten West title. Unlike Minnesota, Northwestern has their tougher games on the front of the schedule. That means getting to 3-0 win a win tomorrow would put them in great position to head to Indy.  For an 11am Big Ten Network game, that's certainly a lot on the line.

The conference season also means we wave goodbye to the gnome bench and hand the reigns for the opening thoughts snark to one of the many other gnomes in the Gopher Gnome Association of America. This week, we turn to the original Goldy Hat Gnome!

Gopher Gnome

His message to me was simple.

The Wildcats are a riddle. They started off the season slow, but have sense put together two solid performances in wins over Penn State and Wisconsin. No one outside the Purple Kool-Aid Patrol is certain if the "new" Northwestern will stick around. The gnomes and I hope that the Gophers adopt the role of Batman and surprise the Wildcats with a powerful, dominating performance.

Light Pre-Preview Reading

TDG Links

Seven Things Coming Out Of Bye Week

#STATSWAR2014 - The Dangers Of Tim Beckman-ism And Northwestern's Defense

The Monday Perspective Prepares For A B1G Game

Models & Bottles - Northwestern

Throwback Thursday: Chicago's REAL Big Ten Team

Rival Blogger Mega Q&A

Gophers vs. Northwestern: Predictions, Hopes, and Goals

Enemy Links

The Improvement Of Northwestern's Run Game

The Missing Piece To Northwestern's Offense

Why Northwestern's Improved Offense Is Here To Stay

Three Big Things: MN vs. NU

Nick VanHoose Likes Nickelback

Northwestern DT's Are Key To Beating Minnesota

Northwestern vs. Minnesota Predictions

When/Where

Date: Saturday, October 11th

Kickoff Time: 11 AM CT

Where: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN

Watch/Listen

TV: Big Ten Network

Streaming Video: BTN2Go

Radio: KFAN (100.3 in the Twin Cities) and the Gopher Radio Network (Radio Affiliates).

Streaming Audio: Locate KFAN on IHeartRadio (or the IHeartRadio app for your mobile device)

Satellite Radio: SiriusXM 195; Sirius 119; XM 195

Odds

Spread: Minnesota by 3.5

O/U: 44-44/5

Weather Forecast:

For the tailgate:

At kickoff:

For the postgame party:

Cool and sunny. Sounds like a perfect day for a football game!

THE ENEMY

Where Are They From? Not Chicago, IL

All Time Series: MN leads51-33-5

Last Game:
BOOM.
SB Nation Blog: Inside NU
Last Season: 5-7 (1-7 Big Ten)
Northwestern's season in a nutshull:

2014 Season to Date:

3-2, with recent wins over Penn State and Wisconsin where Northwestern proved it's run defense was for real. Unless you look at the stats on that sort of thing. Oh look, is that Minnesota in the Top 10 across multiple categories?

Head Coach: Ron Caragher (9th season; 58-48, 29-37 Big Ten). What can be said about Fitz that hasn't already been said? Not much. GIF's? GIF's.

Players to Watch: I'm going to go strictly off some of the players that Inside NU has singled out this week. Who knows their team better?

1) Justin Jackson (RB - Freshman): Impact freshman? Impact freshman. Currently sitting at 89 carries for 396 yards and two TD's. 33 of the carries and 162 of the yards came last weekend against Wisconsin. Something tells me they'll hand off to the hot hand.

2) Defensive tackles - ALL OF THEM: While the defensive backs apparently spent the Wisconsin game getting trucked, the unnamed Wildcats DT's are the key to stopping Minnesota.

A look at the film shows that the big runs were on the back seven — most notably the safeties and corners — and not on the defensive line. None of the explosive runs came from Gordon hitting holes that are large enough to drive a truck through, as was the case in the 2013 shellacking the Badgers handed Northwestern.

Northwestern’s defensive tackles are, and have historically been, undersized by Big Ten standards. But size is only a piece of the puzzle when it comes to running the football; the best NFL and even college offensive lines often aren’t the biggest ones. Just because you’re huge doesn’t mean you can move, and mobility is absolutely crucial when it comes to offensive line.

3) Trevor Siemian (QB - Senior): 101/176 for 1054 yards, 3 TD's, and 4 INT's. If Siemian has a good game against the Gophers we will be very unhappy as Gopher fans. And yet I think with our secondary that we'll be ok facing the struggling QB.

The play of Trevor Siemian is more concerning. On Saturday, he missed open receivers, sometimes badly, on numerous occasions. He had some good moments early in both the Penn State and Wisconsin games, but struggled down the stretch. Even Fitz admitted that he's inexplicably sailing some throws.

Keys to the Game:

- Make Northwestern pay for stacking the box. Looking at you Mitch. At some point, you know NU is going to start crowding the line of scrimmage with defenders and the Minnesota passing attack needs to be ready to exploit that.

- No turnovers. I think the easiest (and most likely) way for the Gophers to lose is to turn the ball over and give Northwestern a short field. I'd prefer to avoid the Wisconsin treatment.

- Run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run. Did I mention run? Cause if Minnesota puts up Wisconsin level numbers the Gophers are going to win (assuming no turnovers).

How Afraid Am I?

On a scale of 1 to 5 "Brewsters on his face" (1 being not a afraid, 5 being very afraid)?

3 Tim Brewsters and a spreadsheet.

#STATSWAR2014 is real ya'll.

Completely Worthless Prediction:

I still think this will be closer. For all the stats nonsense, I do think Northwestern's D is capable of doing so really good things and even with the improvements in the passing game, the Gophers are still capable of going on offensive droughts. The Gopher defense forces a pair of turnovers, Mitch limits the mistakes to one INT, and the Gopher run game gets it done. Minnesota 24 - Northwestern 17.