Final score: Northwestern 45 UMass 6
Brief recap: Northwestern was able to finally get back in the win column this week, but needed to step outside of B1G play to pick it up. The Wildcats had no trouble with UMass, getting a lopsided victory at home. Things didn’t start out well for Northwestern, going three-and-out on its first drive and Aidan Smith throwing interceptions on back-to-back drives. The Minutemen had an early 3-0 lead. But Northwestern’s Joe Gaziano blocked a field goal attempt early in the second quarter and it was returned 85 yards for a touchdown by Chris Bergin. After taking a 7-3 lead, the Cats never looked back. Northwestern piled up over 400 yards of offense and running back Evan Hull rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns in the victory. Northwestern improved to 2-1 against non-conference teams this season.
Key moment: Gaziano’s blocked field goal and the scoop and score by Bergin was the moment the game really changed. Northwestern was really struggling to get things going offensively, so special teams finally gave the Wildcats that boost they desperately needed in this one.
Key stat: Northwestern had 334 rushing yards this week, its highest total of the season. UMass had no response for the ground game.
Key player: Hull’s 220 yards on the ground was pretty incredible. The Wildcats have struggled with keeping talent on the field this season due to injuries, so he stepped up in a big way against the Minutemen. He took advantage of his opportunity this week.
What it means: Well, there really isn’t much we learned from this game. Northwestern was expected to make quick work of the Minutemen and, once the Wildcats got rolling, they did exactly what we thought they would. Maybe this win will give Pat Fitzgerald’s team a little more confidence heading into the final two games of the season, and perhaps they get an upset win over Minnesota and Illinois to hang their hat on this season.