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Running back Laurence Maroney carries the ball.

Laurence Maroney led the Minnesota running attack with 145 yards on 24 carries. It was Maroney's fifth straight 100-yard rushing game.

Gophers beat Northwestern, remain undefeated

The Golden Gopher football team took care of business Saturday night at home, beating Northwestern 43-17 in the Big Ten opener before a crowd of about 45,000 at the Metrodome.

The outcome was largely decided in the first half, when the 18th-ranked Gophers rolled up 290 yards in offense while taking a 33-10 lead. Sophomore running back Laurence Maroney had 113 yards rushing and a touchdown in the half; freshman fullback Justin Valentine rushed for three touchdowns; and sophomore quarterback Bryan Cupito, returning to action after a head injury suffered against Colorado State the previous week, passed for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Minnesota's defense held the Wildcats to just six first downs and a field goal in the half; Northwestern's touchdown came on a 97-yard kickoff return.

The Gophers have now opened the season with four wins in a row for the third straight year, a feat last accomplished from 1934-36. After one week of Big Ten play, they sit atop the conference standings with the other four teams who won their openers--Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State, and Wisconsin. Seventh-ranked Ohio State, which is not on the Gophers' schedule this year, was idle this weekend.

Minnesota will host Penn State at 7 p.m. this Saturday, October 2, at the Metrodome. The Gophers will then hit the road for two weeks for games with Michigan and Michigan State before returning to the Dome for a homecoming matchup against Illinois on October 23. For more Gopher football information, visit the team's Gophersports Web site.

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