Saturday, October 2, 2010
Wildcats overcome mistakes to reach 5-0
By Adam Rittenberg
Things have wrapped up at TCF Bank Stadium, and here are my quick thoughts.
Northwestern 29, Minnesota 28: The Wildcats are extremely fortunate to be 5-0, but they'll take it and move on. You rarely survive three turnovers, especially two in the red zone, plus a missed extra point and 10 penalties, but Northwestern overcame all of that to reach the 5-0 mark. It shows that Northwestern has improved its talent level to survive errors, but this isn't a long-term formula for success. Pat Fitzgerald needs to clean things up in a hurry. I had a feeling Northwestern would need a takeaway to win, and linebacker Ben Johnson came up with it on fourth-and-11. Minnesota offensive coordinator Jeff Horton made a great call on fourth-and-3 as Adam Weber faked a handoff and then bootlegged for the first down. But Horton's subsequent run call made very little sense, and Northwestern's defense snuffed it out. You have to feel for Tim Brewster's crew, which pretty much had a game handed to them and still couldn't win it. The Gophers got great play from DeLeon Eskridge (20 carries, 120 yards, 1 TD) but really couldn't stop Dan Persa and the Northwestern offense aside from forcing takeaways. This would have been the game to turn the tide for Minnesota, and it didn't happen. Receiver Jeremy Ebert made the play of the day on a jump ball in the end zone, and NU finished with 490 yards of offense.