1st quarter recap: Northwestern 14, Minnesota 3
Northwestern ran for 79 yards in the quarter, and the Wildcats lead 14-3 at the end of the first quarter. Northwestern got on the scoreboard first, rattling off a one-play, 26-yard drive that ended in a score when Venric Mark turned a handoff into a 26-yard touchdown. The Wildcats started in good field position when Northwestern recovered a fumble.
Minnesota put a bow on a 76-yard drive when Jordan Wettstein kicked a 31-yard field goal to make the score 7-3.
The Wildcats extended the lead, to 14-3, after Kain Colter kept it himself for a two-yard touchdown run to end an eight-play, 75-yard drive. The key play on Northwestern’s drive was Mark’s 47-yard run.
The Golden Gophers will start the second quarter with possession at the Wildcats’ 24-yard line.
Read more from BTN.com’s Tom Dienhart on this game:
Player on the spot: Northwestern QB/WR/RB Kain Colter. The guy is the ultimate jack-of-all-trades. He has 395 yards rushing; 369 yards passing; 764 yards of total offense. Colter needs to play a big role vs. Minnesota, as his versatility creates opportunities for others—see running back Venric Mark–in this dynamic Northwestern attack.
Key matchup: Minnesota offensive line vs. Northwestern defensive line. The Golden Gophers must establish the run to have any shot. And that was an issue in the loss at Iowa with quarterback MarQueis Gray and his ability to run not in the lineup. Minnesota ran 32 times or 102 yards (3.2 ypc) at Iowa. The Wildcats rank second in the Big Ten vs. the run (102.7 ypg). Linebackers Chi Chi Ariguzo and David Nwabuisi and end Tyler Scott are active forces for Northwestern who must bottle up Gopher back Donnell Kirkwood.
Key number: 11, sacks for the Golden Gophers after they had 19 all of 2011. And they have yielded just nine this season. The last time Minnesota finished with more sacks than it allowed was 2008 (34-30).
Key note: Will Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray play? Earlier this week, Gopher coach Jerry Kill made it sound like there was a possibility the massive signal-caller may get on the field. The Gophers sure could use him.
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