Minnesota, Northwestern victorious in opening of 111th season of Big Ten football

Former linebacker Alex Daniels shined in his running back debut, charging for 162 yards and three touchdowns in the Gophers' victory.

Former linebacker Alex Daniels shined in his running back debut, charging for 162 yards and three touchdowns in the Gophers' victory.

Aug. 31, 2006

Minnesot 44, Kent State 0: KENT, Ohio (AP) -Converted linebacker Alex Daniels rushed for 162 yards and three touchdowns to lead Minnesota over Kent State 44-0 Thursday night in Glen Mason's return to the school where he got his head coaching start.

Daniels, a highly touted linebacker whom Mason switched to running back following several losses at the position, opened the third quarter by carrying all seven times on a 56-yard touchdown drive.

The sophomore enjoyed wide open running lanes and punished Kent State's defenders with his 6-foot-3, 255-pound frame. He scored on runs of 1, 3 and 6 yards. After Daniels left, Amir Pinnix scored on a 15-yard run and Justin Valentine went in on a 2-yard run. Pinnix finished with 114 yards.

The Golden Gophers (1-0) forced six turnovers, intercepting Jamal Harris twice, to dominate Kent State in what amounted to a tune up for their Sept. 9 game at No. 9 California. Full Story

Northwestern 21, Miami (Ohio) 3: OXFORD, Ohio (AP) -With his number on their helmets and his nickname on their hearts, Randy Walker's players gave him one more tribute.

Erryn Cobb blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown Thursday night, helping Northwestern finally get beyond two months of mourning with a 21-3 victory over Miami University.

The entire night was a tribute to Walker, the 52-year-old Miami graduate and Northwestern coach who died two months ago of an apparent heart attack. The season opener featured a lot of emotion but no points in the first half.

Coach Pat Fitzgerald, who was Walker's close friend and top assistant, watched his Wildcats find their stride in the second half behind redshirt quarterback Mike Kafka, who threw a 19-yard touchdown pass.

Terrell Jordan made the Miami fans head for home with a 4-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter that made it 21-3 - too much for Walker's alma mater to overcome. Full Story