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Gophers offense sputters in 27-0 Big Ten opener loss to Northwestern

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The Gophers couldn't get much again on offense as they lost their Big Ten opener 27-0 to Northwestern Saturday in Evanston.

Minnesota got only 173 yards on offense and turned the ball over twice, according to the Associated Press.

Quarterback Mitch Leidner was pulled in the fourth quarter after fumbling a ball that was returned 13 yards for a Northwestern touchdown, the Associated Press notes.

Coach Jerry Kill decided to insert freshman Demry Croft, who got a rude awakening to the Big Ten. He threw for just 27 yards on five completions. He was nearly picked off three times, and was sacked three times, the Star Tribune reports.

Leidner threw for just 72 yards, completing 10 of 21 passes. In addition the losing the fumble, he also threw one interception.

Northwestern's freshman quarterback Clayton Thorson scored two touchdowns on red zone runs of one and five yards. The No. 16 Wildcats (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) remain undefeated.

It was the Gophers' first shutout in four years; the last one was a 58-0 loss at Michigan in October 2011 - Kill's first season, according to the Star Tribune.

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