Last time between Minnesota and Northwestern

The Gophers have a 53-35-5 all-time record against the Wildcats.

by Paul Hodowanic


Northwestern 39, Minnesota 0

It was the worst loss to Northwestern in Gophers history as Minnesota couldn’t get out of their own way and were blown out by the Wildcats in Evanston, Illinois last season. 

Minnesota turned the ball over five times, with three interceptions and two fumbles against the Wildcats. Northwestern made the most of those mistakes, scoring touchdowns on the four of the five drives following a turnover. The mistakes were made even worse by where they were made on the field. Of the four touchdown drives following a turnover, the longest scoring drive was 36 yards. In total, six of the Wildcats’ 14 possessions started in Minnesota territory. 

Minnesota quarterback Demry Croft went 2-11 for 43 yards and three interceptions, finishing with a quarterback rating of 0.9. The lone bright spot came in the run game, as Rodney Smith ran for 96 yards and Kobe McCrary ran for 69 yards, but both lost fumbles. 

Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson had quite the unusual night. He threw for three touchdowns, however he threw for 86 yards on 9-13 passing. The Wildcats controlled the game on the ground as Justin Jackson ran for 133 yards. 

The loss seemed to linger for the Gophers as they were shut out again the following week against Wisconsin at home, losing 31-0. 

This year’s game will see a much different Gophers team, especially on offense. There will be a new quarterback in Tanner Morgan, who is making his third career start. None of the players who had a rushing attempt or caught a pass for the Gophers in last year’s game will play on Saturday, and only two of the starters on the offensive line will start again. The offense will rely much more on the pass this season with both Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman having breakout seasons.

The much of the defensive personnel remains the same but will be under new direction, as Joe Rossi will call plays for the second time this season. Thomas Barber was one of the lone standouts in last year’s game, totaling 15 total tackles and half a sack, and will look to repeat that performance again this season. 

Quotables from the game: 

“Before we could even have an opportunity to go win the game, we were losing the game so fast that it just got out of control — quickly,” head coach P.J. Fleck told reporters. 

“The magnitude of the score is five turnovers, seven times five equals 35 — it was 39 to nothing,” Fleck told reporters. “When you turn the ball over, and you turn it over inside your own zone as many times as we did … they’re going to score every time.”

“It was a little tough, you know, wet balls, cold weather, wind — that’s a tough combination to work with,” Croft told reporters. “But we have to make things shake.”