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No. 24 Northwestern aims to maintain momentum at Minnesota

November 15, 2018

No. 24 Northwestern (6-4, 6-1 Big Ten, No. 22 CFP) at Minnesota (5-5, 2-5), noon EST (Big Ten Network).

Line: Northwestern by 2½.

Series record: Minnesota leads 53-35-5.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

For Northwestern, not much other than maintaining momentum moving toward its first Big Ten championship game appearance in two weeks. The Wildcats have clinched at least a share of the West Division title with two games to go, with another bottom-half-of-the-conference opponent in Illinois waiting on Nov. 24. Minnesota has more urgency, needing one more win to secure its first bowl game berth under coach P.J. Fleck. The Gophers finish at Wisconsin next week.

KEY MATCHUP

Minnesota WR Tyler Johnson vs. Northwestern DBs. Johnson, closing in on several single-season program records, leads the Big Ten in receiving yards (948) and is tied for first in touchdowns (nine). With boosts from freshmen Rashod Bateman and Chris Autman-Bell, the Gophers lead the conference with an average of 14.59 yards per pass completion.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Northwestern: RB Isaiah Bowser. The freshman has topped 100 yards rushing in three of the last four games, including 165 last week, the most by a player against Iowa this season.

Minnesota: QB/WR Seth Green. The sophomore who comes in for direct snaps in wildcat plays has eight TDs and 222 yards on 61 rushes, plus two TD passes out of the formation.

FACTS & FIGURES

Northwestern has won seven of the last 11 meetings with Minnesota, with shutouts in 2015 and 2017. ... The Wildcats are the first team in FBS history to win a division title after losing all their nonconference games. They have won 13 of their last 14 games in the Big Ten, including 10 in a row against West Division foes. ... The Gophers are averaging 452 total yards on offense over their last four games, the longest streak of 400-plus yards for the program since a run of seven straight contests spanning the 2005 and 2006 seasons. ... Northwestern leads the FBS in fewest penalty yards taken at an average of 28.5 per game. Minnesota is second in the Big Ten, 19th in the FBS, at 42.4.

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