If you were waiting for a dominant performance by Northwestern to consider them a real contender, this was the game you were waiting for. The Wildcats beat Minnesota so badly that by the end of the game, the Golden Gophers weren't even bronze Gophers. The gopher from Caddyshack had a better day than Minnesota did against the Cats. Along with Iowa, the Cats now stand at 5-0, atop the Big 10 West standings.
Northwestern's defense was completely stifling again, putting together NU's first shutout of Minnesota since October 10, 1959. In addition to not allowing any points, the defense gave up less than 200 total yards of offense, and came away with two turnovers. The second was a fumble recovery by Anthony Walker who returned it for a touchdown, his second of the season. Matthew Harris added his third interception of the season earlier in the game.
Godwin Igwebuike led the Cats with nine total tackles, and three different defenders had two tackles for a loss. Deonte Gibson had 1.5 sacks, and also 1.5 tackles for loss. I can't really say enough about how good the defense was, and I don't want to drown you in statistics.
On the other side of the ball, Clayton Thorson played his best game so far this season. Coming off a three-turnover performance last week, he didn't commit any against the Gophers. On top of the turnover-free game, he added two rushing touchdowns. Thorson now leads the team with four rushing touchdowns on the season, more than Justin Jackson and Warren Long have combined. While his passing numbers may not be much to get excited about, his rushing ability makes him a duel threat for defenses.
Speaking of Justin Jackson, he surpassed the 100 yard mark on the ground for the fourth time this year. The 120 yards he gained against Minnesota gave him 636 on the season, well on his way to breaking 1000 for the season.
Next up for the Wildcats is a trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan to face the Wolverines. Jim Harbaugh's team has won four games in a row after dropping the season opener at Utah. Michigan is 3-0 at home, and have given up just 14 combined points in those victories.