MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The old adage suggests Northwestern won't be successful with Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian sharing time at the sport's most important position: "If you have two quarterbacks, you don't have one."
Whether their plan can lead to a prominent bowl game or not, there's no doubt that the Wildcats have a lot to offer on offense.
"They do it probably more effectively than some of the other people have done it, because I don't think it's easy to figure out," Minnesota coach Jerry Kill said.
Colter can run with the Big Ten's best; the junior ranks ninth in the conference with an average of 65.8 yards rushing per game. He's a good enough athlete, too, that the Wildcats will move him to wide receiver so the sophomore Siemian, who is more of a pure passer, can sling the ball around the field.
"When they have great athletes out there at multiple positions you just have to know where everybody is," Gophers safety Brock Vereen said.
After overwhelming Indiana in winning their Big Ten opener with 704 total yards, the Wildcats were tamed last week by Penn State in a 39-28 loss. Colter's running lanes were filled, and Siemian averaged only 3.75 yards per pass attempt. The defense gave up 22 points to the Nittany Lions over the last 10 minutes of the game and the fast-paced, multi-faceted attack stalled down the stretch when it mattered most.
So the Gophers (4-1, 0-1), who are also coming off their first loss of the season, at least have a blueprint for beating the Wildcats (5-1, 1-1) on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium, the centerpiece of homecoming weekend.
Northwestern was Minnesota's homecoming opponent in six of the last 18 seasons, and the Wildcats beat the Gophers and spoiled the party in five of those games. Minnesota's only win in that span was in 2002. Overall, Northwestern has won five of the last seven road games against the Gophers.
After being overpowered at the line in a 31-13 defeat by Iowa, allowing 182 yards rushing, the Gophers are eager to play the type of spread-out, no-huddle team they handled well in the nonconference part of their schedule. New Hampshire, Western Michigan and Syracuse all brought similar offenses, though none of them do this as well as Northwestern, which ranks fourth in the Big Ten with an average of 430 total yards per game.
"They had 21 points a year ago before we even blinked," Kill said, referring to last season's 28-13 loss on the road. "They're going to go."