These Wildcats are not reminiscent of the 2018 and 2020 teams that won the Big Ten west. The defense has taken the hardest hit with the departure of their highly regarded defensive coordinator, Mike Hankwitz. The Gopher ground game would take advantage of Northwestern’s defensive rebuild all afternoon sending the purple closer to bowl ineligibility.
A sunny and crisp fall afternoon enveloped Evanston for a Big Ten clash between two teams headed in different directions. Northwestern has struggled on both sides of the ball seeking an identity to move them forward. Minnesota has overcome the loss of their star running back, Mohamed Ibrahim, and an embarrassing defeat to Bowling Green. They rode a three game win streak into Ryan Field in hopes to gain a firmer grasp on the Big Ten west. A fumble return for a touchdown and 308 yards of rushing helped the Gophers seal a 41-14 beat down of the Wildcats.
A heavy contingent of maroon and gold provided the strong majority of the cheering at Ryan Field. Goldie Gopher and Willie the Wildcat playfully interacted along the sidelines including a dance-off that offered Northwestern’s closest opportunity for any sort of victory on this day. Minnesota’s dominant performance set them up for what could be a historic finish for this team. Future victories over their biggest rivals, Iowa and Wisconsin, could send them to Indianapolis for their first ever Big Ten title game.