Following a 24-14 loss to Penn St., which dropped its record to 2-5, it appeared that Northwestern would struggle to become bowl-eligible for a fifth consecutive season. However, the Wildcats have rallied around senior QB Dan Persa, and following the 28-13 victory over Minnesota, are now bowl-eligible and playing some of the best football in the Big 10.
After an aerial assault from Persa in the opening quarter, which saw him throw for 2 TD's and lead another scoring drive, the Wildcats appeared to be on their way to another high-scoring performance. Instead of continuing to score at such an impressive rate, the offense actually sputtered throughout the rest of the game, with the only points outside of the first quarter coming on a late TD run by Jacob Schmidt.
It was the Northwestern defense that led the way after the first quarter. The Wildcats forced two turnovers, including a key redzone interception in the third quarter, and sacked Minnesota QB MarQueise Gray twice. The Golden Gophers were able to run the ball on the Wildcats, with Gray rushing for 147 yards and senior RB Duane Bennett adding 127 yards on the ground. However, the defense did an excellent job of limiting big plays in the victory.
Northwestern closes out the season with a key trip to No. 15 Michigan St. Minnesota will hope to end the season on a positive note when it hosts Illinois.
For game updates all afternoon, make sure to keep up with SB Nation Chicago. For more on each team and fan game threads, visit SB Nation's Northwestern WIldcats blog Sippin' On Purple and SB Nation's Minnesota Golden Gophers blog, The Daily Gopher. Here's the complete Week 12 college football TV schedule, and stay tuned to SB Nation's college football news hub for more.