Pregame report: Gophers vs. Northern Illinois

by John Hageman

The Gophers (1-2) are looking to salvage a .500 record going into their Big Ten schedule, one that includes visits from Ohio State, Penn State and Iowa. It’s a tough road ahead for the Gophers to say the least, and a win tonight would give them some much-needed momentum for the rest of the season.

It looks like junior running back Duane Bennett is getting some snaps with the first team here before the game. Bennett didn’t get a carry for the entire second half last week against USC, and head coach Tim Brewster admitted that he wasn’t 100 percent after suffering a sprained ankle against South Dakota the previous week. Bennett had led the Gophers in rushing in each of the first two games. 

Senior kicker Eric Ellestad will retain his kickoff duties after Brewster announced that he would junior David Schwerman some consideration. Ellstad has struggled this season in both field goal attempts and kickoffs, making just two of his five attempts and failing to kick the ball deep enough to let the coverage unit get in place on Robert Woods’ kickoff return for a touchdown last week. 

NIU is also looking to turn around their season, with their lone win coming against FCS-member North Dakota. Last season the Huskies finished 5-3 in the MAC, but yet to have yet to play a conference game this season. After beating Purdue earlier in the day, Toledo now leads the conference at 2-0.