It has been the Venric Mark show for the Northwestern Wildcats against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Northwestern running back has already established a career-high in rushing yardage – we're at halftime, mind you – and has found the end zone twice in leading the Wildcats to a 21-10 lead over the Gophers on Homecoming Day at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Mark has carried the ball eight times for the Wildcats and picked up 151 yards on the ground, including four rushes of at least 20 yards. Mark scored for the Wildcats on Northwestern's first play from scrimmage, a 26-yard run after Minnesota fumbled the opening kickoff, and added a 48-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. In between, Kain Colter had a 2-yard touchdown run for the Wildcats.
Minnesota's lone touchdown came on their first play of the second quarter on a 25-yard run by the returning MarQueis Gray. Gray initially started out today's game with some snaps at wide receiver, including catching a 16-yard pass from Max Shortell in the first quarter, but moved back behind center after Shortell got injured on a run play midway through the first quarter.
Neither of these teams have done much through the air in this one, combining for just 99 passing yards through the first quarter of play (36 for Northwestern, 63 for Minnesota). However, both teams have run the ball well, with Northwestern already amassing 162 yards on the ground and Minnesota racking up 148.
Turnovers have been the big key in this game. Minnesota has turned the ball over twice, a fumble on the opening kickoff and an interception thrown by Gray after a rare three-and-out from the Northwestern offense. Both of those turnovers resulted in drives that culminated in Mark touchdown runs.
At halftime, the rain is really coming down in Minnesota. Expect continued emphasis on both teams' running games in the second half.