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Gophers defensive back Craig McDonald, who hasn't played this season as he awaited word on an appeal of a transfer waiver, will be available to play the rest of the season after the NCAA approved his eligibility, an athletic department spokesman confirmed Monday.

McDonald, a Minneapolis native and former Minnehaha Academy standout, spent the 2020 and 2021 seasons at Iowa State before transferring to Auburn in 2022. He joined the Gophers in May and waited for a decision from the NCAA, which in January limited waivers for second-time undergraduate transfers.

As the process played out, Gophers coach P.J. Fleck did not comment on the NCAA's procedures. That's in contrast to the situation at North Carolina, where the NCAA denied wide receiver Tez Walker's waiver request. That prompted Tar Heels coach Mack Brown to say, "It's clear that the NCAA is about process, and it couldn't care less about the young people it's supposed to be supporting.''

The addition of McDonald could help a Gophers secondary that has had trouble stopping opponents' passing games the past two weekends. North Carolina's Drake Maye passed for 414 yards and two touchdowns in the Tar Heels' 31-13 win over the Gophers on Sept. 16. On Saturday, Northwestern's Ben Bryant led a fourth-quarter comeback from a 21-point deficit by passing for 396 yards and four TDs in a 37-34 overtime win.

McDonald, who has three years of eligibility remaining, played in 17 games with three starts at Iowa State, making 41 tackles and intercepting two passes. He saw action in two games at Auburn.

Little Brown Jug under the lights

The Gophers' Oct. 7 game against No. 2 Michigan at Huntington Bank Stadium will have a 6:30 p.m. start and be broadcast nationally on NBC, the Big Ten announced. The Little Brown Jug will be on the line as the Gophers and Wolverines meet for the first time since 2020. Michigan has a three-game win streak in the series, and Minnesota last won the jug in 2014.