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Northwestern vs. Minnesota final score: Wildcats beat Gophers, 21-13

The Northwestern Wildcats moved to 6-1 after defeating the Minnesota Golden Gophers 21-13 in Big Ten play.

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

After a fast start, the Northwestern Wildcats had to hang on late to defeat the Minnesota Golden Gophers 21-13 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Northwestern's now bowl eligible for the fifth year in a row, extending the longest streak (by far) in program history.

Trailing 21-13 and without starting quarterback MarQueis Gray due to injury, backup Max Shortell led Minnesota 81 yards down to the Northwestern seven-yard line before turning it over on downs with just over two minutes left. After the Wildcats went three-and-out, a last ditch Gopher effort failed.

Northwestern got on the board on their first offensive play of the game after a Minnesota fumble on the opening kickoff gave the Wildcats the ball deep in Gopher territory. Wildcats running back Venric Mark scored from 26 yards out to grab a quick 7-0 lead just 11 seconds in.

Northwestern took a 21-10 lead into the half, but their offense was stymied by a stout Minnesota defense in the second half. Luckily for the Wildcats, their defense held strong and secured the win.

With the victory, Northwestern moved to 6-1 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten. Minnesota fell to 4-2 overall and 0-2 in the conference.

Box Score Hero: Mark was the clear star of the game with his 182 yards and two scores. Those 182 yards marked a career high.

Rankings Ramifications: Neither team was ranked heading into Saturday's action, and that's unlikely to change in the next poll.

But Did They Cover?: Northwestern was a 3.5-point favorite, so they covered. The over/under was set at 54, so this game went under.

For More On This Game: Check out the Northwestern blog Sippin' On Purple. For more on the Golden Gophers, head over to The Daily Gopher.

Next Week's Schedule: The Wildcats will host the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Golden Gophers will travel to Wisconsin to take on the Badgers.