Northwestern's injury report came out today, and while it was disappointing for Wildcats fans, it wasn't at all surprising. Kain Colter and Venric Mark are both questionable, while Sean McEvilly and Jaylen Prater are out. McEvilly is still in a walking boot, and while that's an improvement from crutches, he didn't participate in practice this week and still clearly has a little ways to go. Meanwhile, neither Colter nor Mark participated in practice week, and both are still "day-to-day," like they've been all season long.
Starting with McEvilly's injury, it's rehashing, but Northwestern's defensive tackles have really struggled in his absence. They gave up huge games to Ohio State and Wisconsin's running backs, and in turn, that hurts the rest of the defense — the linebackers and safeties also have to sell out against the run, making NU vulnerable against play-action. Minnesota dominated in the run game earlier in the season, but the Gophers have struggled to run the ball since they started playing Big Ten competition. This week, however, they see the potential for a revival:
"Looked like (the Badgers') power football worked really good against them," Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "That's what we want to be about. That's what we want to do."
There's a difference between wanting to be about the run game and actually being about it, and the Gophers still have a lot to prove in that regard. However, if they can get the run game going and control the tempo of the game, they could certainly pull off the upset. With McEvilly out, that's a legitimate concern.
As far as Colter and Mark go, it's really a toss-up. If NU thinks it can win the game without playing Colter or Mark, I'm sure it will gameplan that way and not risk any further injury to its stars. It's anybody's guess whether either of them will play, but "questionable" certainly doesn't inspire much confidence.