A very interesting matchup for the Minnesota Golden Gophers in their final home game of the year. The opponent is the team that clinched the Big Ten West with two games left to play. And yet the Gophers are actually favored in this one.
Northwestern is a very odd team this year. On paper this team is not very good, but yet they sit two games atop of the rest of the Big Ten West with two weeks to play. They could only manage seven points against Duke and lost to Akron (4-5!!!)... both games at home. Yet they will be playing in the Big Ten Championship game.
- We want that Purdue game defense back. Joe Rossi was the architect of a fantastic defensive gameplan last week against one of the league’s best offenses. Can he do it again? If this defense plays that well again, I have a lot of confidence that the Gophers will get this win.
- Take advantage of a depleted secondary. The Wildcats will be playing without three of their four starting defensive backs. Quarterback Tanner Morgan and the Gophers’ talented corp of wide receivers should be champing at the bit. Northwestern is tough against the run, so Minnesota will need to have success through the air.
- The ball is the program. Take care of the football. Iowa had two chances in the fourth quarter last week against Northwestern to take the lead back, but squandered them due to fumbles. The Gophers can’t afford to give the ball away, because the Wildcats are a team that thrives on waiting for their opponents to make a mistake.
OPPOSING PLAYERS TO WATCH
- QB Clayton Thorson - Which Wildcats quarterback will show up today? The four-year starter or the inaccurate and inconsistent signal caller?
- RB Isaiah Bowser - He has become their best offensive player in the last four games, averaging more than 100 yards rushing over that span.
- DE Joe Gaziano - Leads the team with 10 tackles for loss.
Which Minnesota defense will come to play today? Will Northwestern’s luck finally run out? The Wildcats have been living dangerously all season long, winning one close contest after another. Unfortunately, I think they live to fight another day.
Minnesota - 30
Northwestern - 31