Gophers Outlast Pesky Wildcats as We Officially Shift Focus to Wisconsin…

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It was another beautiful November day of football in the Big Ten, late this morning in Evanston, Illinois. The tailgate lots were packed and the crowd was in the stadium and raucous early… Ok, I’m just kidding. This is Northwestern, we’re talking about. Kids who attend Northwestern don’t have time to attend silly football games. These guys/gals have futures to change and dreams to fulfill. When students spend 6 years at Northwestern, they walk away as doctors and lawyers. People who tailgate and attend football games when it’s below 40 degrees, take 6 years to graduate from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor’s Degree they’ll never use.

So you can be successful, like this kid will be… or you can be like me.

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The Gophers didn’t care how many people were there to watch, they came out of the gates with an apparent need to get the taste that was the Iowa start, out of their mouths immediately. Before the 1st quarter was over, they had two touchdowns on the board (1 passing, 1 rushing) and they were driving again..

..oh, they’d score on that 3rd drive too. It was 21-0 so fast, I started thinking about dinner options. Suddenly, going to the grocery store this afternoon was a possibility.

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That was until the Gophers punt receiving team came out onto the field for their 4th punt return of the half…

The Minnesota special teams’ unit ranks 128 out of 130 FBS teams, according to ESPN FPI. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that comes back to bite us over the next 1.5 months. This is Minnesota… Our history has been built upon being fucked by our own special teams… Anyway, it bit us today. Demetrius Douglas decided not to fair catch a ball that took its first bounce at the 20-yard-line, before bouncing all the way to the 6. The very next play, Tanner Morgan dropped back and was nearly sacked, before throwing the ball to a sideline with nobody near it. He was still in the pocket so the pass was deemed “intentional grounding”, and Morgan was considered sacked for a safety.

At that point, the score was 21-2 and the game was still well in-hand… but the Gopher offense never looked the same again in the 1st half. Instead of driving down the field and cutting through the Northwestern defense like a hot knife through butter, they were now struggling to gain first downs. The same offense that racked up 174 yards and 3 TD’s on 13 plays, in the first 3 drives; ran 5 plays the rest of the half. Those five plays resulted in a punt and one interception…

But, they got the ball back after halftime and things would change drastically.

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Whatever issues the Gophers had moving the ball at the end of the first half, were long forgotten by the time the 3rd quarter rolled around. The Gophers never had to run the punt unit out again, the rest of this game. They were moving the ball efficiently on all fronts. Tanner Morgan finished the game with 4 touchdowns and the three running backs plus Seth Green totalled 212 yards on the ground.

In the passing game, Tanner spread the ball around all game to Rashad Bateman and Tyler Johnson. They both ended with 7 grabs. Bateman got 3 touchdowns so Tanner made sure TJ got more yards, finishing with 125 and just 1 score.

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The only issues in the 2nd half came on the defensive end. After knocking Hunter Johnson out of the game in the first half, Northwestern was down to their 4th QB, Andrew Marty, who they probably should have just started the game with. His threat on the ground and through the air seemed to give the Gophers some headaches. Hunter Johnson left the game with 0 completions on 2 attemps. Marty finished the game 8/10 for 1 TD while also carrying 16 times for 52 yards and 2 scores on the ground.

Hopefully, his success was based more on the lack of preparation time the Gophers had for him, and not anytything we need to worry about for the long term; because we now shift our focus to Wisconsin. They are starting their game right now vs Purdue. If they win, the Gophers will welcome the Badgers to TCF Banks Stadium next weekend, with the Big Ten West on the line… We are venturing into uncharted territory now,  Gopher fam… are you ready?

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via GIPHY

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Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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