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Minnesota Football loses to Northwestern Wildcats 24-14

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It’s hard to win games when your offense struggles this much.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern is a team that relies on the opponent making mistakes. The Minnesota Gophers handed them every mistake they could ask for today and it cost them dearly. Northwestern took advantage of a turnover prone and often anemic Minnesota offense en route to a 24-14 victory.

I could pick multiple examples to highlight Minnesota’s offensive issues today, but I’ll go with the series the Gophers executed late in the 4th quarter while down 17 (which happened as I wrote this). Minnesota managed to get into the Northwestern red zone and then scored a touchdown on a Tanner Morgan pass to Tyler Johnson. Except that Mohamed Ibrahim was flagged for a hands to the face penalty (well deserved) that negated the TD. Then, Blaise Andries was flagged for holding on the very next play (it was declined by Northwestern for some reason). Ultimately the Gophers did get the touchdown but they cost themselves more than a few precious seconds to earn it.

The Gophers had every chance to be bowling right now. Instead, we’ll need to wait and see if they can do it on the road in Madison to break the Axe streak.

Quick thoughts:

  • Tanner Morgan was bad. No way around it, this was a bad Tanner game. Two interceptions, one of which was either an atrocious throw or an atrocious decision and 3 fumbles (thankfully only 1 lost). The lost fumble was really more on Donnell Greene getting beat on the outside but the other two were all on Tanner.
  • Donnell Greene wasn’t 100%. If Greene isn’t able to go or is limited in terms of his health next week it’s going to be hard for Minnesota to get consistent offense.
  • More drops than usual. Tanner wasn’t great, but the dropped passes he experience were all on the receivers. Rashod Bateman had an uncharacteristically bad day.
  • The defense actually was pretty good overall. The drive they gave up to end the first half was bad, but otherwise they did more than enough to win this game had the offense been able to join them.
  • Blake Cashman had himself a game. Happy Senior Day Blake. I’m glad we got to watch you deliver a wonderful downhill sack where you flew in like a missile.

This is a frustrating loss because Northwestern is who they have appeared to be, solid in some parts of their game (run defense legit) but beatable. But at the same time this is a Minnesota team that has shown that they will lose a game where the QB play isn’t strong. If we get Purdue game Tanner Morgan, the offense could look nice next week. If not, the Gophers will spend bowl season at home.