Gophers blown away by Wildcats 39-0
November 18, 2017

On October 30, 1943, in the midst of World War II, the University of Minnesota football team, decimated by the draft, traveled to Evanston, Ill., and were slaughtered by the Northwestern Wildcats, 42-6.

On November 18, 2017, in the midst of a driving rainstorm, the University of Minnesota, decimated by the loss of wide receiver Tyler Johnson, traveled to Evanston and were slaughtered by Northwestern, 39-0.

It took the Wildcats 74 years before they could hang a worse beating on the Gophers. The 1943 Wildcats were quarterbacked by the legendary Otto Graham and featured a gaggle of former Gophers such as future sailors Herm Frickey, Herb Hein, and Jerry Carle, each stationed near Lake Michigan.

The 2017 Wildcats have only one Minnesota native on their roster (Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman out of the Breck School) and are quarterbacked by Clayton Thorson, a borderline pro prospect. Nevertheless, coach P.J. Fleck’s Gophers were willing to roll over and accept a whipping from Northwestern.

Minnesota melted in the rain faster than a sugar cube in hot coffee.

Thorson had three touchdown passes, and Justin Jackson added 166 rushing yards. Minnesota quarterback and man imitating a drunk on roller skates, Demry Croft, completed just 2 of 11 passes for 43 yards with three interceptions. In other words, Croft completed more passes to the enemy than to his Gopher teammates. Rodney Smith had 96 yards rushing for the Gophers.

Jackson has 1,010 yards on the season and became just the second Big Ten player—and ninth in FBS history—to rush for 1,000 yards in four straight seasons. Wisconsin's Ron Dayne (1996-99) is the other Big Ten player.

Jackson has 5,139 career yards and moved past Michigan's Mike Hart (5,040) for fifth place on the Big Ten's all-time rushing list.

Northwestern has won 21 of the last 22 games in which Jackson has rushed for 100 yards.

The Wildcats (8-3, 6-2 Big Ten) also forced five turnovers on defense. Cornerback Montre Hartage had an interception and a fumble recovery to set up two touchdowns.

Thorson finished 9 of 13 for 86 yards despite the pounding rain and wind. The Wildcats’ Garrett Dickerson had two touchdown receptions.

The Gophers had dropped four of five games before breaking out for a 54-21 win over Nebraska last week. But any hopes that the performance could spark a late-season turnaround were quickly dashed on Saturday. It eas 25-0 by halftime

After the game, Fleck climbed on his cross and took full blame for the humiliating defeat.

“I’ll take 100 percent of the blame,” he blurted. “We didn’t make enough plays in the passing game.

“It just shows you how young and inexperienced we are and how non-explosive we are at wide receiver.” No one on the roster is capable of creating space for himself. No one except Johnson, who is out with a broken wrist. This was a problem that also plagued quarterback Mitch Leidner last season.

The crowd size was announced as 30,014, or roughly the same size as the one for the Minnesota-Northwestern tussle in 1943. The difference was in 1943, those were actual people, not no-shows, occupying the seats in the rain and snow at Ryan Field.

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