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Gophers and Wildcats digging out after two straight losses

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Back-to-back losses for both the Gophers and Northwestern means each team will be digging from the bottom up in the Big Ten Legends division for the foreseeable future.

Minnesota was thumped by Iowa and waxed at Michigan. The Wildcats lost a nail-biter to potential national champion Ohio State, then got destroyed by the Wisconsin Badgers.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald lightened the mood for his team by bringing 300 water balloons to a team meeting this week.

“You’ve got to have fun when you’re doing this, and obviously nobody enjoys not being successful,” Fitzgerald said, via WCCO. “But I think the hallmark of this squad has been our character and the way that we’ve responded. I talked to them about the glue that keeps everything together is having fun and enjoying the moment and the opportunities.”

The Gophers are hopeful that stability at the quarterback position will help them settle into an offensive groove. Mitch Leidner will make his second straight start. FOX Sports North reports that Minnesota's coaches felt Leidner was efficient enough against Michigan to warrant another start.

However, offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover told KFAN-FM 100.3 on Thursday that Philip Nelson will most likely play, too. Both Leidner and Nelson are listed as possible starters on the depth chart.

This could be a big game for Gophers defensive lineman Ra'Shede Hageman. Northwestern's offensive line allowed seven sacks last week against Wisconsin. As a team, the Wildcats' offensive mustered an embarrassing 11 punts, 10 first downs, two field goals and an interception.

Get to know Hageman better in this week's Golden Gopher production of "Brick-by-Brick."

Despite both teams standing at 4-2 overall, Vegas Insider's odds list the Wildcats as 12.5 point favorites.

Last season the Wildcats defeated the Gophers 21-13 at TCF Bank Stadium.

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