EVANSTON, Ill. -- Ailing head coach Jerry Kill watched from the coaches' box as Minnesota turned two second half turnovers into scores en route to a 20-17 Big Ten victory over Northwestern Saturday afternoon.
The Gophers (5-2, 1-2) snapped a two-game losing streak as James Manuel broke a 7-7 tie with a 24-yard third quarter interception return and Chris Hawthorne turned another Wildcat turnover into a 34-yard field goal in the fourth.
Host Northwestern (4-3, 0-3) dropped its third straight.
Kill, on indefinite leave after a series of epileptic seizures, watched Manuel picked off Wildcat quarterback Trevor Siemian with 1:22 for a go-ahead score. The Gophers made it 17-7 just 87 seconds later on Hawthorne's field goal after recovering a Wildcat fumble.
Hawthorne's 38-yard field goal with 5:24 remaining made it 20-10. Northwestern cut the deficit to 20-17 on a 10-yard touchdown strike from Siemian to Tony Jones with 2:07 remaining.
Siemian completed 25 of 46 passes for 234 yards but was picked off twice and fumbled once. Jones had eight catches for 84 yards.
Northwestern opened the scoring on Stephen Buckley's first career touchdown with 1:53 left in the first quarter. Buckley's 3-yard score capped a drive on which he had a 33-yard reception and an 11-yard run.
Minnesota tied the game at 7-7 as Nelson hit Engel hit on a 29-yard touchdown pass with 6:48 left in the first half.
Hawthorne's try for a go-ahead 44-yard field goal just before halftime sailed wide left.
Minnesota's defense shut down a promising Northwestern drive deep into Gopher territory early in the final frame. The Wildcats settled for a 35-yard Jeff Budzien field goal that cut the Gopher lead to 17-10 with 11:09 left in regulation.
After Hawthorne's second field goal, Northwestern converted on three fourth downs in a 75-yard scoring drive that culminated in Jones' 10-yard TD reception.
Kill didn't coach for the second straight game. Kill and his wife, Rebecca, drove down from Minneapolis and arrived just before the game. He reportedly addressed the Gophers at halftime.
Tracy Claeys has served as head coach in Kill's absence.
Minnesota hosts Nebraska next Saturday while Northwestern travels to Iowa.
Miami has lost running back Gus Edwards for the entire season because of a left foot injury.
Virginia Tech will wear a decal on its helmets against No. 1 Ohio State on Monday night to honor slain Roanoke television journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward.
South Carolina football players will wear stickers on their helmets this season to honor the nine people who died in a shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston this past June.
Washington has found its starting quarterback, but coach Chris Petersen said the Huskies will keep that information under wraps until Friday's season opener at No. 23 Boise State.
Joey Counts scored on a 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal with 2 seconds left to give Montana a 38-35 victory over four-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State on Saturday.
Transfer Vernon Adams will be the starting quarterback when Oregon begins its season against Eastern Washington on Sept. 5.