EVANSTON, Ill. -- Ailing head coach Jerry Kill watched from the coaches' box as Minnesota turned two second half turnovers into scores en route to a 20-17 Big Ten victory over Northwestern Saturday afternoon.
The Gophers (5-2, 1-2) snapped a two-game losing streak as James Manuel broke a 7-7 tie with a 24-yard third quarter interception return and Chris Hawthorne turned another Wildcat turnover into a 34-yard field goal in the fourth.
Host Northwestern (4-3, 0-3) dropped its third straight.
Kill, on indefinite leave after a series of epileptic seizures, watched Manuel picked off Wildcat quarterback Trevor Siemian with 1:22 for a go-ahead score. The Gophers made it 17-7 just 87 seconds later on Hawthorne's field goal after recovering a Wildcat fumble.
Hawthorne's 38-yard field goal with 5:24 remaining made it 20-10. Northwestern cut the deficit to 20-17 on a 10-yard touchdown strike from Siemian to Tony Jones with 2:07 remaining.
Siemian completed 25 of 46 passes for 234 yards but was picked off twice and fumbled once. Jones had eight catches for 84 yards.
Northwestern opened the scoring on Stephen Buckley's first career touchdown with 1:53 left in the first quarter. Buckley's 3-yard score capped a drive on which he had a 33-yard reception and an 11-yard run.
Minnesota tied the game at 7-7 as Nelson hit Engel hit on a 29-yard touchdown pass with 6:48 left in the first half.
Hawthorne's try for a go-ahead 44-yard field goal just before halftime sailed wide left.
Minnesota's defense shut down a promising Northwestern drive deep into Gopher territory early in the final frame. The Wildcats settled for a 35-yard Jeff Budzien field goal that cut the Gopher lead to 17-10 with 11:09 left in regulation.
After Hawthorne's second field goal, Northwestern converted on three fourth downs in a 75-yard scoring drive that culminated in Jones' 10-yard TD reception.
Kill didn't coach for the second straight game. Kill and his wife, Rebecca, drove down from Minneapolis and arrived just before the game. He reportedly addressed the Gophers at halftime.
Tracy Claeys has served as head coach in Kill's absence.
Minnesota hosts Nebraska next Saturday while Northwestern travels to Iowa.
Nike Men's Minnesota Golden Gophers Maroon/Gold Team Issue Performance PoloShop
Freshman DB Chad Clay didn't last long with the Georgia football team, as the Bulldogs dismissed him following a second arrest in the last four months.
Brenda Tracy, who allegedly was sexually assaulted by four men, including two Oregon State players, in 1998 spoke Wednesday to the Nebraska football team.
A man who claims he told Penn State football coach Joe Paterno in 1976 that he was sexually abused as a teen by Jerry Sandusky asked a judge Wednesday to protect his identity and limit questions.
FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman joins The Paul Finebaum Show to share his thoughts on the upcoming National Championship race.
Urban Meyer, Thad Matta and Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith were among the crowd at the parade for the Cleveland Cavliers on Wednesday.
Cal has many holes to fill on defense after losing six of their seven leading tacklers from last season.