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Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
MINNEAPOLIS -- Northwestern has always considered itself a team that can respond to adversity. So far, the Wildcats are fulfilling their pledge.
Despite the injury losses of running back Tyrell Sutton (dislocated wrist) and quarterback C.J. Bacher (hamstring), Northwestern dominated the first quarter against No. 17 Minnesota.
Backup quarterback Mike Kafka led Northwestern to scores on each of the team's first two drives. The Wildcats utilized Kafka's running skills and also attacked the field while maintaining a conservative approach. Northwestern's decision to take the ball after winning the opening coin toss raised some eyebrows, but the choice looked genius after Kafka led the team 78 yards.
Kafka threw a 33-yard touchdown to Jeremy Ebert and set up a field goal with a 30-yard pass to Eric Peterman. He also had a 28-yard run.
But Minnesota is settling into a rhythm on offense. Adam Weber found tight end Nick Tow-Arnett for completions of 31 and 27 yards on consecutive plays, and the Gophers are threatening after doing nothing on their first two possessions. Expect this one to tighten up fast.
The injury bug continues to bite Northwestern. Defensive end Vince Browne is out after injuring his knee on kickoff coverage, and safety Brian Peters left with a leg injury.