6After falling behind early, the Golden Gophers outscored Northwestern, 42-3, en route to a 42-17 win against the Wildcats in Evanston, Ill. With the win, Minnesota improves to 2-0 in the Big Ten and 6-0 for the first time since 1960. Minnesota also became bowl eligible for the fourth time in the last five years.
Northwestern came out on fire and promptly scored on its first two possessions. On their opening drive, the Wildcats drove 63 yards on 10 plays as Jason Wright ran it in from 12 yards out. Northwestern forced a Minnesota three and out and got the ball back on its own 38.
Once again, the Wildcats drove down the field with ease. Quarterback Brett Basanez did the honors this time with a two yard touchdown run.
Minnesota again failed to get anything going on offense and were forced to punt. This time though, the Golden Gopher defense came up big as Justin Fraley recorded his second interception in as many weeks.
While the turnover didn?t result in any points, it was the turning point of the game as Northwestern would score just three more points.
In the second quarter at its own four yard line, Minnesota got the break it needed. Asad Abdul-Khaliq threw deep to Jared Ellerson. After the Wildcat cornerback fell down, Ellerson took in the catch and raced 94 yards for the touchdown to make it 14-7. It was the longest pass reception in school history.
The Golden Gophers regained the ball and drove 74 yards on just five plays. Marion Barber III took the pitch off the option and ran untouched for a 31 yard score.
Minnesota's defense held again and the Golden Gophers capitalized with a four play, 53 yard drive to take the lead for good. Off the play action, Abdul-Khaliq found Ben Utecht from six yards out for his first touchdown catch of the season.
The Wildcats responded just before the end of the half. With third and goal, it was Fraley again that came up big. He sacked Basanez and Northwestern had to settle for a 39 yard field goal.
Leading 21-17 at the half, the Golden Gophers came out firing in the second half. On the second play of the third quarter, Abdul-Khaliq went deep to Ellerson again. Ellerson got behind the defense and finished with an 82 yard touchdown reception.
Up by 11, Minnesota put the game away on its next possession. Barber got the call again on the option and collected his second 31 yard touchdown run of the day. With 13 rushing touchdowns, Barber tied the school's single-season record.
Abdul-Khaliq wasn?t done as he threw his fourth touchdown pass of the day, this time to Aaron Hosack from 32 yards out to make it 42-17 in the fourth quarter.
Abdul-Khaliq finished the day with 331 yards on 12-of-17 passing.
Minnesota rolled up 241 yards on the ground, led by Thomas Tapeh (13-81) and Barber (11-77). The Golden Gophers held a 572-284 advantage in total offense.
Next Friday, Minnesota will take its perfect record up against Michigan at the Metrodome. Game time is 7 p.m.