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Gophers Look for Second Straight Win and Bowl Eligibility Against Northwestern

11/15/2018, 2:45pm CST
By Jon Firman

Coming off a dominating win over Purdue last week, the Gophers look for their third Big Ten win and bowl eligibility on Saturday when they take on Northwestern, who clinched the Big Ten West title last week. Most experts have Northwestern as the favorite in the Saturday tilt but before you cash in on them be sure to check out this page for more in-depth analysis

Here are five things to know courtesy of GopherSports:

1. Minnesota closes out its home schedule against Northwestern on Saturday. The Gophers lead the all-time series against the Wildcats 53-35-5 and have won three of the last five meetings between the schools. The Gophers are 30-14-3 all-time at home against the Wildcats and have won two straight at TCF Bank Stadium against Northwestern (won 29-12 in 2016 and 24-17 in 2014). Northwestern won last year's meeting, as they tripped up the Gophers in Evanston, Ill.

2. Minnesota will celebrate Senior Day on Saturday and will honor its seniors prior to its game against Northwestern. The Gophers will recognize and thank seniors for their contributions to the program. Smith is participating in senior day activities with his class, but will return for a sixth year in 2019.

3. Minnesota leads the Big Ten and ranks No. 11 in the nation in yards per completion at 14.59. Minnesota has 25 receptions of at least 25 yards. Last year, Minnesota had 14 total receptions of 25 yards or more in 12 games. Minnesota had 18 receptions of 25 yards or more in 13 games in 2016 and 25 in 13 games in 2015. Bateman's 86-yard catch at Illinois is the team's longest of the year and longest since 2003 (school record 96 yards, Asad Abdul-Khaliq to Jared Ellerson at Northwestern). Minnesota had five plays (two pass, three rushes) of 30+ yards against Purdue. Minnesota's defense kept Purdue's potent offense in check, as the Boilers' longest play on offense was 17 yards. Purdue was 0-for-12 on third down and had negative 2 rushing yards with 10 minutes left in the game (ended game with 88 rushing yards).

4. Minnesota has two 30-plus point Big Ten wins in its last 10 league games under Coach Fleck, as it beat Nebraska by 33 in 2017 and Purdue by 31 in 2018. Prior to Fleck, Minnesota had two 30-point Big Ten wins in its previous 100 conference games from Oct. 30, 2004 to Nov. 26, 2015, as it beat Indiana by 37 in 2006 and Iowa by 37 in 2014. Minnesota's 38-point margin of victory (won 48-10) this year against New Mexico State was its largest ever at TCF Bank Stadium. Minnesota had previously beaten Iowa (2014) and New Hampshire (2012) by 37 points at TCF Bank Stadium. The 38-point win was Minnesota's largest victory margin since 2006 (beat Temple 62-0).

5. Minnesota is 41-28 all-time at TCF Bank Stadium. Minnesota is 13 games over .500 at TCF Bank Stadium, which is its best mark at the stadium. The Gophers opened the on-campus facility with a 20-13 win against Air Force on Sept. 12, 2009, but then dropped to 7-13 at home after 20 games. Since then (Nov. 26, 2011), Minnesota is 34-15 at home, which translates to a 69.3 winning percentage. In 69 games at TCF Bank Stadium, the Gophers average 27.4 points and allow 24.1. In non-conference games, Minnesota averages 29.1 points and give up 19.7. Under Fleck, Minnesota is 9-4 at home and has averaged 29.6 points and has allowed an average of 19.6. In five non-conference games, those numbers are 29.2 points for and 7.4 points against. 

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Tag(s): Gopher Football