Northwestern (3-2) at Minnesota (4-1) (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: TCF Bank Stadium (50,805) — Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: NU 2-2, Minnesota 3-0. Away Record:
NU 1-0, Minnesota 1-1. Neutral Record: NU 0-0, Minnesota 0-0. Conference
Record: NU 2-0, Minnesota 1-0. Series Record: Minnesota leads, 51-33-5.

GAME NOTES: The Northwestern Wildcats will try to stay hot on Saturday
afternoon when they continue their Big Ten Conference slate against the
Minnesota Golden Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium.

Northwestern has won three straight after following up a 29-6 road win over
Penn State in its league opener with last weekend’s 20-14 upset of 17th-ranked
Wisconsin. The latter marked the Wildcats’ first home victory against a ranked
opponent since defeating No. 13 Iowa on Nov. 13, 2010. The last time they
began Big Ten play 2-0 was during the 2000 season, which ended with a
conference title.

Minnesota is off to a 4-1 start and is unbeaten at home in three tries thus
far. The Golden Gophers were idle last weekend. They brought home the Little
Brown Jug two weeks ago as they claimed a 30-14 triumph over Michigan in Ann

The Golden Gophers lead the all-time series, 51-33-5, although Northwestern
has emerged victorious in five of the last seven meetings.

Northwestern freshman running back Justin Jackson was the focal point of the
offense in the win over Wisconsin, as he logged 33 carries for a season-high
162 yards. It was a timely breakout performance, considering quarterback
Trevor Siemian completed only 15-of-29 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown.
The passing TD was his first in a span of three weeks. The Wildcats
desperately need a game-breaking player on offense, as the unit ranks 98th
nationally in yards from scrimmage (355.4) and 100th in scoring (22.4).

NU’s defense held the Badgers 25 points below their season average (39 ppg)
entering the game, although Heisman Trophy hopeful Melvin Gordon had himself
another big day. Gordon gashed the Wildcats for 259 yards and a TD on 27
carries, averaging just about a first down per rush (9.6 ypc). He became the
first NU opponent to gain over 200 yards on the ground since Illinois’ Mikel
Leshoure went for 330 in the Wrigleyville Classic on Nov. 20, 2010. However,
Wildcats freshman safety Godwin Igwebuike minimized the damage by recording
three interceptions, the first NU player to accomplish that feat since 1973.
Senior linebacker Jimmy Hall also notched a pick in the win.

Northwestern’s defense will have its hands full once again with a Minnesota
rushing attack that ranks 23rd nationally with an average of 230.2 ypg. While
Gordon currently leads the Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing with 174.2
ypg, Minnesota’s David Cobb ranks No. 6 with 144.4 ypg to go along with four
TDs. The senior accounted for 161 of the team’s 229 total yards in the first
half against Michigan, and he finished with 233 (183 rushing, 50 receiving).
Quarterback Mitch Leidner, who missed the San Jose State game with an injury a
week earlier, completed 14-of-22 passes for 167 yards and a third-quarter
touchdown to Maxx Williams. Leidner also ran for a 10-yard score.

The Golden Gophers defense came up with a key play in the third quarter
against Michigan when De’Vondre Campbell scored on a 30-yard interception
return to push the lead to 20-7. All in all, Minnesota turned in a stout
defensive effort in holding the Wolverines to 12 first downs and only 171
yards of total offense for the game. Damien Wilson led the way with seven

The Wildcats have turned some heads by jumping out to the early lead in the
Big Ten’s West Division. If they can bottle up Cobb and hand Minnesota its
first home loss of the season, then they will really have everyone’s

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Minnesota 30, Northwestern 24