It’s halftime at Ryan Field, and Northwestern leads Minnesota, 10-0. Here are some thoughts about the first 30 minutes from WNUR’s Michael Stern.
- Shuler Stylin’. Last year, Minnesota struck gold in the return game when Jalen Myrick took a kickoff back for a touchdown. This year, the ‘Cats made the big special teams play as Shuler returned a punt 57 yards late in the second quarter to set up Thorson’s short touchdown run.
- Matt Harris battled Ball State’s Jordan Williams last week, and he’s tasked with Gopher speedster KJ Maye this week. Harris broke up a key third-down on the Gophers’ first drive and kept Maye to short gains when he caught the ball in space.
- Clayton Thorson is leaning on his veteran receivers. The young quarterback connected with Christian Jones on two key third downs, and found Dan Vitale on a shovel pass.
- Tough penalties/miscues: Brad North’s false start backed up a third-and-2 in the red zone, team settled for a field goal. A fumbled snap on first down had NU working from behind the chains on it’s second drive. Jack Mitchell hit the left upright on a 41-yard field goal midway through the second quarter.
- Godwin has been active, despite suffering an apparent concussion last week. A key tackle on kickoff coverage, and eight overall tackles, leading the Wildcat offense.
- Minnesota gonna Minnesota. The Gophers got good push up front, especially with Shannon Brooks. The freshman has carried 8 times for 28 yards.
- Northwestern winning the turnover battle. Matt Harris picked off Mitch Leidner on a second-quarter third-down, his third interception of the year.
- A heavy dose of Justin Jackson, and water is still wet. It took him a bit to get going, but Jackson found holes in the Gopher defense, and he’s carried 11 times for 44 yards.
- Big plays from Dean Lowry. Lowry read a read-option correctly and brought down Leidner midway through the second quarter, and broke into the backfield to tackle Brooks earlier in the half.