The Northwestern Wildcats (5-5, 4-3) will take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-3, 4-3) in a pivotal Big Ten West matchup in Minneapolis. While neither team looks to be in position to win the division, both teams still have a lot to play for.
For Northwestern, the impact of a win is clear: a second-consecutive bowl appearance. For the Golden Gophers, a win would push them to 8-3 ahead of a duel with Wisconsin in the final week of the regular season. Minnesota still has a shot to win the division if they win out, but the Gophers would need some help.
Minnesota will try to run the ball down Northwestern's throat and control the clock; Gopher quarterback Mitch Leidner has only thrown one touchdown against FBS competition so far this season. Without Jaylen Prater, the Anthony Walker Jr., Nate Hall and Brett Walsh will have to be up to the task this afternoon. It will be interesting to see whether Montre Hartage can continue his strong play from a week ago this week against Minnesota wideout Drew Wolitarsky, the Gophers' leading receiver by nearly 400 yards.
On the other side of the ball, Northwestern will face a strong rush defense, but a more suspect secondary. It seems like the deciding factor for the Wildcats is always the offense line play, and it will surely be key again with temperatures in the 20s.
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