The final whistle has sounded, and Northwestern beat Minnesota by the final score of 27-0. WNUR’s Michael Stern has some takeaways from the second half.
- Historic shutout: The last time Northwestern held a Big Ten foe scoreless, Pat Fitzgerald was playing linebacker. Saturday’s shutout was the Wildcats’ first conference goose-egg since October 21, 1995 against Wisconsin.
- Key Gopher miscue: It was third-and-eight, Minnesota jumped offside, and Thorson hit Nagel to extend NU’s half-opening drive. The ‘Cats would eventually get a field goal and extend their lead to 13-0.
- ‘Cats Catch Big Break: Justin Jackson fumbled early in the third quarter, but Christian Jones jumped on it, allowing the Wildcats to retain possession.
- Almost a Great Play: Solomon Vault appeared to have a one-handed 32-yard touchdown catch on the Wildcats’ opening possession, but after review the pass was ruled incomplete.
- Riverboat Fitz: Coach Fitzgerald rolled the dice and went for a fourth down and seven early in the third quarter. Thorson rewarded his coach’s trust, hitting McHugh for 11 yards.
- Keep up with Jones: Thorson and Christian Jones seem to be developing a connection. The quarterback hit his veteran wideout for 16 yards on NU’s second drive. Jones finished the game with 3 catches for 38 yards.
- Jackson takes over: Justin Jackson took control of the game in the second half. The sophomore had 44 yards rushing in the first half, then galloped for 76 in the second stanza; finishing with 120 yards. This is Jackson’s 10th career 100-yard game, the ‘Cats are 8-2 when he eclipses the century mark.
- If at first you don’t succeed: Jaylen Prater appeared to have an interception off a tipped ball deep in Minnesota territory, but the play was ruled incomplete and not reviewed. Two plays later, Tyler Lancaster forced quarterback Leidner to fumble, and Anthony Walker picked up the loose ball and scored Northwestern’s second defensive touchdown of the season.
- Strong secondary: Northwestern’s “sky team” helped preserve the shutout in the second half. Nick VanHoose broke up consecutive passes near midfield to end a late Minnesota drive, and Matt Harris broke up a pass (nearly securing his second interception) to end another fourth quarter Gopher possession.
- Chasing 6-0: The Wildcats head to Ann Arbor next week seeking their first 6-0 start since 1962, or 12 years before Fitzgerald was born.