EVANSTON, Ill. - Mar’Keise Irving ran for two touchdowns and a career-high 110 yards and Justin Walley scooped up a fumble and ran 25 yards for a score as Minnesota defeated Northwestern 41-14 Saturday.
Irving, a freshman from Illinois, broke off a 41-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter to give the Gophers a 33-7 lead.
Tanner Morgan threw for 134 yards and ran for a touchdown and Ky Thomas added 106 yards on 21 carries as Minnesota (6-2, 4-1 Big Ten) improved to 3-0 on the road.
Before it could get its offense untracked Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald pulled starter Ryan Hilinski. Andrew Marty finished 10 of 16 for the Wildcats (3-5, 1-4) and threw a pair of touchdown passes.
The Gophers never trailed and opened the game with a 13-play, 67-yard drive capped by a 26-yard field goal by Matthew Trickett.
On the next play from scrimmage, Hilinski completed a pass to Malik Washington, who was stripped by Mariano Sori-Marin and Walley picked up the loose ball and scored.
Minnesota held Northwestern to a three-and-out and capitalized with another field goal from Trickett for a 13-0 first-quarter lead.
Marty put together an 11-play 75-yard drive capped by a 6-yard touchdown pass to Evan Hull, who accounted for 50 yards of total offense on the drive.
The Gophers answered on their next possession with Irving scoring from the 3.
Trailing 20-7 late in the final seconds of the first half, Northwestern got a key defensive stop when Coco Azema tipped a Morgan pass and Brandon Joseph made a diving catch in the end zone for the interception.
Morgan had an 18-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.
Marty threw a late, 17-yard touchdown pass to Berkeley Holman. Normally a linebacker, Derik LeCaptain scored on a 24-yard run.
Minnesota: With an impressive win against Northwestern, Minnesota sits alone at the top of the Big Ten West standings despite losing its two top running backs. Mohamed Ibrahim and Trey Potts both suffered season-ending injuries.
Northwestern: Coach Pat Fitzgerald will need to find stability at quarterback for Northwestern to compete the rest of the way. Fitzgerald started the season with Hunter Johnson, replaced him with Hilinski and now has turned to Marty.
Minnesota: Hosts Illinois on Saturday.
Northwestern: Hosts Iowa on Saturday.