11 a.m., TCF Bank Stadium • TV: BTN • Radio: 100.3-FM • Line: U by 2 • Series: U leads 53-35-5
Northwestern went 0-3 in nonconference games but secured the Big Ten West title with two weeks to spare by going 6-1 in league play, with the only loss being 20-17 to Michigan.
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It only seems that Wildcats QB Clayton Thorson (above) should have an AARP card. The fifth-year senior will start his 50th consecutive game and twice has led Northwestern to 10-win seasons. His mobility has been limited by offseason ACL surgery, but he still has six rushing TDs. He has thrown 12 interceptions, though, tying his career high.
Gophers offense vs. Wildcats defense
The Gophers, who have averaged 36.7 points in the past three games, catch a break because the Wildcats are expected to be without starting cornerbacks Montre Hartage and Trae Williams and safety Jared McGee. Advantage: Even
Gophers defense vs. Wildcats offense
The Gophers certainly responded to interim coordinator Joe Rossi, and now they’ll need to do it again. Freshman RB Isaiah Bowser is averaging 120.8 yards. Advantage: Northwestern
The Gophers have the edge at kicker in senior Emmit Carpenter, who is 12-for-15 on field goals. Injuries have forced the Wildcats to use punter Jake Collins as their kicker, and he’s 0-for-1 this season. Collins is a strong punter, with 21 punts downed within the opponent’s 20-yard line. Advantage: Gophers
Though Northwestern has won seven straight Big Ten road games, the Gophers should get a boost from the fact that it’s Senior Day and they’re still seeking a sixth win to earn bowl eligibility. Advantage: Gophers
The Wildcats are banged-up on defense, and the Gophers have a lot more to play for. Minnesota in a tight one.