Entering another huge game this Saturday against Northwestern, the Gophers might have to go to battle without starting quarterback Tanner Morgan,
Morgan, the redshirt sophomore who is sixth in the nation with a 186.9 passer efficiency rating, was projected by head coach P.J. Fleck to possibly enter concussion protocol after being sacked hard late in last weekend's 23-19 loss at Iowa.
If Morgan can't go at Northwestern, Fleck will have to turn to a true freshman, either Cole Kramer or Jacob Clark. Kramer replaced Morgan on the final drive against the Hawkeyes, going 0-for-2 with an interception on a desperation deep ball on fourth down.
Kramer was a star quarterback in Eden Prairie's vaunted triple-option offense, leading the Eagles to three trips to the Minnesota big school Prep Bowl. Clark is a 6'5'' pure passer who completed his only pass attempt of the season for 39 yards in Minnesota's 52-10 win over Maryland in late October.
It's also possible that Minnesota runs more plays out of the wildcat formation if Morgan is out. That would mean a heavier dose of Seth Green, the former prized QB recruit from East Ridge High School in Woodbury who has 13 rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns with the Gophers dating back to last season.
ESPN's FPI (Football Power Index) gives Minnesota a 86.9% chance to beat Northwestern, and that is reflected by Las Vegas oddsmakers as the Gophers are favored by nearly two touchdowns.
Minnesota leads Wisconsin by one game in the Big Ten West Division, and they're on a collision course for the biggest battle for the axe in recent memory, as the winner of the Nov. 30 game at TCF Bank Stadium could determine the Big Ten West champion and a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Wisconsin is a 24-point favorite at home against Purdue this weekend.