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Victory would make Northwestern bowl-eligible

Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa (7) looks to pass in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Rice on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011, in Evanston, Ill. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

If Northwestern can beat Minnesota on Saturday at Ryan Field, it will become bowl-eligible for the fifth consecutive season.

There is a sense of urgency surrounding the game (11 a.m., BTN, 720-AM), and the Wildcats (5-5, 2-4 Big Ten) are trying to keep their minds on the Golden Gophers and not look ahead to the Michigan State game Nov. 26.

‘‘What bowl do they have us projected at?” running back Adonis Smith asked Monday.

Some have projected NU to go to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in New York or the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit. In either case, the one-day-at-a-time attitude is prevalent.

‘‘We want to win two games in a row to finish it out and make it a November to remember,” linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo said. ‘‘We know this will make us bowl-eligible.”

Fight for it

Quarterback Dan Persa threw two interceptions in the Wildcats’ 28-6 victory Saturday against Rice.

Even though Persa and coach Pat Fitzgerald agreed the picks were Persa’s fault, Fitzgerald said he needs to see more aggressiveness from NU’s receivers, who could have prevented the interceptions had they fought Rice’s defense more.

‘‘I want to see those guys go up and get that football,” Fitzgerald said. ‘‘That was my biggest disappointment. I’ve watched other receivers get those [kinds] of balls against us. We left our big-boy pads in Lincoln [after the Wildcats’ 28-25 upset of Nebraska on Nov. 5].”


NU’s 1996 Big Ten championship team will be at the Minnesota game, and former quarterback Steve Schnur will be the Wildcats’ honorary captain. Fitzgerald said he is looking forward to seeing about 40 of his former teammates and coach Gary Barnett.

‘‘It’s a relationship [with Barnett] that I greatly appreciate,” Fitzgerald said. ‘‘From a standpoint of chemistry, it’s like we never left the locker room. We had a tremendous brotherhood. It’s what we were sold on when we were recruited, and it would open up doors that, without this experience, you would never have.”

Time change

NU’s regular-season finale Nov. 26 against Michigan State at Ryan Field will start at 11 a.m. and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.