Minnesota, Northwestern rush to erase losses

Field Level Media

September 21, 2023 at 2:08 pm.

Minnesota focused this week on shaking its first loss of the season.

The Golden Gophers visit Northwestern in a Big Ten Conference meeting on Saturday evening in Evanston, Ill.

The Golden Gophers (2-1, 1-0 Big Ten) are coming off a 31-13 loss on the road against then-No. 20 North Carolina last week. Minnesota pulled within 21-13 in the third quarter but surrendered the final 10 points of the game.

Northwestern (1-2, 0-1) is also regrouping. The Wildcats’ 38-14 road loss against Duke last week represent the most points allowed by the team this season.

“It’s OK for it to sting,” Northwestern interim coach David Braun said. “We’re going to play a much better brand of football Saturday.”

Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck is hoping the same is true of his team.

Fleck expressed confidence in his players after watching film of the loss against North Carolina. He said they were in position to succeed and needed to execute better, particularly when it came to curbing big plays.

“We’re that close,” Fleck said, holding his thumb and index finger close together. “I’m not saying it’s not correctable, because it is. But this is part of the journey and the process of playing some young players.”

It has been an up-and-down start to the season for Minnesota quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis, who has completed 51.1 percent of his passes for 446 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. He also has rushed for 41 yards and a touchdown.

Golden Gophers running back Darius Taylor has led the way on offense with 334 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Northwestern is led by quarterback Ben Bryant, who has completed 55.2 percent of his passes for 408 yards, two touchdowns and three picks. He also has one rushing touchdown.

Cam Porter leads Wildcats with 147 rushing yards. He is averaging 4.5 yards per carry.