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Entering Big Ten play, Kill admits Gophers don't feel like a 3-1 team

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Las Vegas insiders have set the over/under for points in Saturday's Gophers-Northwestern game at 40.5, but the way the two teams play defense, the combined total could be a lot lower.

Sixteenth-ranked Northwestern ranks first in the Big Ten and and third in the nation in scoring defense, and is 11th in the nation in total defense. The Wildcats allow an average of 8.8 points per game. The Gophers allow 18.5 points per game, which ranks eighth in the conference.

Offensively, Northwestern and Minnesota are the bottom two teams in scoring offense in the Big Ten. The Wildcats average 25 points per game while the Gophers find the end zone less frequently with an average of 19.2 points per game.

But according to Today's U Sports, since 2010, Northwestern has proved to be a dominating team in September only to fold up like a bottom feeder when they play Big Ten games in October.

  • September record since 2010: 20-2
  • October record since 2010: 6-14

The Gophers aren't exactly strolling into Big Ten play with a ton of confidence having escaped the non-conference portion of the schedule with three wins in four games – the latter two being intense struggles against smaller Mid-American Conference schools Kent State and Ohio University.

"We're 3-1, but I don't think sometimes (Minnesota players) feel like we're 3-1," Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill said Tuesday, according to FOX Sports North, "so we've got to make sure they understand that we've got a good football team."

Quarterback Mitch Leidner, despite his struggles in the first month of the season, still appears confident, saying Minnesota should be ranked in the Top 25.

Northwestern also boasts the Big Ten's top rushing offense entering conference play, but they're dead last in passing offense. Minnesota has been great against the pass but will play Northwestern possibly without three members of the secondary – Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee injury), Antonio Johnson (concussion) and Damarius Travis (hamstring) were all banged up against Ohio last week.

The Wildcats had seven players go down with injuries in a win over Ball State on Saturday, including four to key players, SB Nation reports.

Minnesota's October slate includes a road game against Purdue next week followed by back-to-back home games against Nebraska and Michigan.

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