NCF Nation: Joel Monroe
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
MINNEAPOLIS -- Both of these teams have credited their strong seasons to major improvements on the defensive side. It showed in a scoreless third quarter.
Minnesota safety Traye Simmons intercepted his second pass of the game to snuff out a Northwestern drive into Gophers territory. Moments earlier, the Gophers mounted a 92-yard drive but got nothing out of it as Northwestern held near the goal line and kicker Joel Monroe missed a chip-shot field goal attempt.
So here we are, one quarter to play. Northwestern's conservative scheme hasn't prevented turnovers, but the Wildcats remain in the game and have a good track record in close contests. They'll need to force a turnover to win.
Minnesota holds the momentum, and quarterback Adam Weber has been fabulous today, both with his arm and his feet. Unlike Northwestern's quarterbacks, who run virtually the same offense, Weber avoids turnovers and finds the holes in opposing defenses. Weber has done an excellent job utilizing all of his weapons.
Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka threw the two picks, but he also has set a school record for quarterback rushing with 15 carries for 149 yards. He has read the field well and found lanes to run, but his interceptions are proving costly.
Injuries have hit both teams, especially Northwestern. The Wildcats lost guard Desmond Taylor to an injury and star defensive end Corey Wootton went to the locker room with what looked like a right leg cramp. Minnesota standout wide receiver Eric Decker appeared to injure his left ankle on a 24-yard gain. Decker is receiving treatment on the Gophers sideline.