(Saturday, September 26th)
Final Score: Minnesota 35, Northwestern 24
Evanston, IL (Sports Network) - Duane Bennett ran for 89 yards and three touchdowns to lead the visiting Minnesota Golden Gophers in a 35-24 comeback win over the Northwestern Wildcats in the Big Ten opener for both schools.
Adam Weber threw for 186 yards and two TDs for the Golden Gophers (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten), who found the end zone twice in the final eight minutes. Eric Decker was on the receiving end of both of Weber's touchdown passes and finished with 84 yards on eight catches.
Mike Kafka went 32-of-47 for 309 yards and two TDs for Northwestern (2-2, 0-1), but he also threw an interception and was sacked four times as a result of the Wildcats' one-dimensional offense.
Minnesota marched right down the field in just five plays on its opening drive, as Bennett crossed the goal line on a one-yard run to stake the Gophers an early 7-0 lead.
NU cut that lead to 7-3 on a 26-yard field goal by Stefan Demos on the ensuing possession, which covered 76 yards in 19 plays and ate up nearly nine minutes of game clock.
But the Gophers offense was up to the challenge, and Bennett responded with another touchdown run midway through the second quarter, this one from three yards.
The Wildcats answered with a 10-play, 75-yard drive, capped by Arby Fields' two-yard touchdown run to trim the deficit to 14-10 with four minutes remaining until halftime.
Midway through the third quarter, Minnesota made it a 21-10 game on Weber's 16-yard touchdown pass to Decker.
However, NU controlled the rest of the third quarter with a pair of 79-yard touchdown drives. On the first drive, Kafka connected with Andrew Brewer for a 24-yard scoring strike. Kafka gave the Wildcats the lead with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Brendan Mitchell to cap the second drive.
But the fourth quarter belonged to Minnesota. The Golden Gophers had an 83- yard drive that occupied six-and-a-half minutes and was punctuated by Bennett's third touchdown; a four-yard scamper with eight minutes to play.
The Gophers iced it on Weber's one-yard touchdown pass to Decker with less than two minutes to play.
Northwestern finished with just 64 yards on the ground, as three running backs combined for only 17 carries.
09/26 16:42:47 ET