NORTHWESTERN at MINNESOTA
Northwestern 29, Minnesota 28
Oct. 2, 2010
TCF Bank Stadium o Minneapolis, Minn.
Northwestern Post-Game Notes
This was the 87th meeting between the two schools, and the 16th time Northwestern has opened its Big Ten season against Minnesota. Northwestern has now won three of the last four meetings vs. Minnesota.
Northwestern notched its fifth-straight true road victory, its longest such streak since 1995 when NU also won five consecutive road contests. Northwestern, now 10-3 in its last 13 road contests, has won a Big Ten-best 10 road games dating to the start of the 2008 season. Northwestern's 10 road wins since 2008 leads all Big Ten programs.
Northwestern has won eight-straight regular-season contests dating to last season.
Northwestern is off to its second 5-0 start in three years. NU will shoot for its first 6-0 start since 1962 when it hosts Purdue next Saturday (Oct. 9) at 6:30 p.m. CT at Ryan Field. The Big Ten Network is televising the contest.
The Wildcats are now 27-7 in their last 34 games decided by seven points or less. Under head coach Pat Fitzgerald, NU is 17-6 in contests decided by seven points or less.
Northwestern continued its first-quarter domination this season, outscoring Minnesota 14-7 in the first 15 minutes. The Wildcats have now outscored their opponents 47-16 in the opening frame in 2010.
Northwestern has now scored in double figures in 39 straight games.
Minnesota's third touchdown of the game gave the Gophers a 21-14 lead late in the second quarter. That was the first time this season that NU trailed in a game-a stretch of 269 minutes and 1 second.
Northwestern, which came into the game ranked sixth nationally in turnover margin, had three turnovers compared to Minnesota's one.
Northwestern's one defensive takeaway, a win-clinching interception by LB Ben Johnson on Minnesota's final offensive drive, extended Northwestern's string of games with at least one interception to nine.
For the seventh time in its last eight games, Northwestern totaled 400 or more yards of total offense. The Wildcats finished with a season-high 486 yards.
Northwestern is now 10-0 since the start of the 2009 season when it outrushes its opponent. The Wildcats outgained the Gophers on the ground Saturday, 177-165.
WR Tony Jones, on his first collegiate play at Northwestern, scored a touchdown on a 45-yard pass from QB Dan Persa. Jones just returned to action this week after sitting out nearly seven weeks with a shoulder injury. He finished the game with four receptions for 68 yards and the TD.
Persa opened the game by completing his first eight pass attempts. Persa, who came into the game leading the nation (FBS) in pass completion percentage at 80.2 percent, finished the game 23-of-30 for a career-high 309 yards and two TD's. He now has a season pass efficiency rating of 184.61 and a season pass completion percentage of 79.4 (108-of-136).
Persa finished as NU's leading rusher with a career-high 99 yards. That gave Persa a career-best 408 yards of total offense for the game. He came into the game ranked 12th nationally in total offense.
WR Jeremy Ebert caught seven passes for a career-best 105 yards and 1 TD, and now leads NU in receptions (24) and receiving yards (436), along with TD's (five).
RB Mike Trumpy finished with another 53 rushing yards, equaling the career-high he set one week earlier against Central Michigan. Trumpy scored his first career TD on a 12-yard run in the first quarter.
LB Bryce McNaul, who hails from Eden Prairie, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis, finished with a career-high eight tackles with one TFL.
S Brian Peters was the game's leading tackler with 12 hits (10 solos). He also had a pass breakup. The 12 tackles were a single-game career best.
DE Vince Browne notched his team-leading fifth pass sack of the season. He now has 14 career sacks. Browne came into the game ranked second in the Big Ten and 15th nationally with 1.0 sacks per game.
PK Stefan Demos upped his field goal success rate for the season to 70 percent (7-of-10) when he nailed a 27-yard field goal with 2:07 remaining in the fourth quarter and lifting the Wildcats to their one-point win.
LB Ben Johnson picked off his first interception of the season. Seven of NU's nine season interceptions have come from either defensive linemen or linebackers.
In addition to the debut of true freshman Tony Jones, freshman RB Adonis Smith made his career debut today as well. NU now has played five true freshmen this year, the most by head coach Pat Fitzgerald in his five seasons as NU's head coach.
NU coach Pat Fitzgerald improved to 32-23 overall and 16-17 in the Big Ten.