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NCAA Football Minnesota Golden GophersNorthwestern Wildcats

Loss of Offensive Weapons Helps Minnesota Golden Gophers Beat Northwestern Wildcats

Jerry Lai – USA Today Sports

What has happened to the Northwestern Wildcats? They were ranked No. 16 in the nation going into their loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes on October 5. The Wildcats have now lost three straight.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers traveled to Evanston to take on the Wildcats on Saturday in a Big 10 showdown. It was a game that the Wildcats could’ve won if it weren’t for the fact that they were missing two of their biggest offensive weapons.

Quarterback Kain Colter and running back Venric Mark were both sidelined with ankle injuries.

Colter was dressed for the game, but the Wildcats only planned on using him in an emergency. He is the more mobile part of the dual quarterback threat that the Wildcats have employed this season along with quarterback Trevor Siemian, who is more of a passing threat. Colter has 396 passing yards on the season with three touchdowns and three interceptions. His passing ability is not as impressive as his rushing ability, as he has 263 yards rushing and four touchdowns so far this season.

Mark was not available to play at all. He had just returned from a previous injury in time to face Ohio State two weeks ago and he was sidelined once again with yet another injury on Saturday. Mark ran for 1,366 yards last season and 12 touchdowns, but only has 97 yards and no touchdowns this season. He is always a threat to find a hole and break away for a large gain, but has not had many opportunities to do so yet this season because of injuries.

Without the threat of Colter or Mark, Minnesota was able to hold the Wildcats to just 94 yards rushing on Saturday.

Siemian had to find a way to put some life into an offense that was missing two of its biggest threats. He did an admirable job, completing 25 of 46 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown but threw two interceptions. It was not enough for the Wildcats, as they dropped their third straight and are still winless in the Big 10.

What has happened to the Wildcats? Once a ranked team with an explosive offense has only scored two touchdowns in the past two weeks. They were kept out of the end zone by a very good Wisconsin Badgers defense last week.

It has a lot to do with the injuries to two of their biggest offensive weapons in Colter and Mark, both of which were injured in the Badgers game.

The return of Colter and Mark will re-ignite the explosive dual quarterback threat that was once the Wildcat offense and we will once again see how good they really are, like we did in the Ohio State game. They are always a threat to run when Colter and Mark are healthy and it could prove difficult for opposing defenses to contain when they are both on top of their games.

 

Jenna Aquino is a Big 10 Football writer for RantSports.com. Follow her on Twitter, “Like” her on Facebook, or add her to your network on Google.