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Five Takeaways from the First Half of Northwestern vs. No. 6 Michigan

It's halftime in Ann Arbor. Here is what we have seen so far from the Big Ten matchup between the Northwestern Wildcats and the Michigan Wolverines.

Keeping Pace

The Wildcats remain within striking distance of taking the lead in this game. This is much more than can be said about the contest versus the University of Nebraska, where the 35–7 deficit at the half was already insurmountable. 10–7 is not necessarily ideal but a one possession difference leaves the window open for a comeback. 

Bend Don't Break

The Wildcats defense was extremely effective in the half, limiting the Wolverines to just 10 points is a huge win. Junior quarterback Cade McNamara was efficient at quarterback for the Wolverines, completing 19–24 throws, but holding him to just 120 yards through the air was massive. The Wolverines had to essentially drive completely down the field in order to score, which allowed time for key plays to happen.

One of those key plays stands out, the fumble towards the end of the half that did not allow the Wolverines to extend its lead. This was certainly the play of the half, and completely changed the momentum of the half.

Offensive Awakening

The offense struggled to get anything going for most of the half, but one play changed this. Sophomore running back Evan Hull dashed for a 75-yard touchdown, which was the last true offensive play the Wildcats had in the first half. His quick feet allowed him to evade defenders and the strong blocking from the rest of the offense led to the score and showed just how hungry this team was for a momentum boost. 

Sophomore quarterback Ryan Hilinski was pedestrian in the first half, going 6–12 for 45 yards, but did not turn the ball over and that continues to be a huge strength from him. Several throws were near completions that would have been huge gains, so if some plays go the other way this next half that could spell success for the Wildcats.

Time of Possession

The Wolverines dominated possession in the first half. The Wolverines had the ball for nearly 23 minutes while Northwestern only held the ball for about seven minutes. This will tire out the Wildcats defense if it continues, and while it was huge that he defense held, it is not sustainable.

Momentum Change

This game felt like the Wolverines were poised to just take over at any point but that is not the case anymore. The momentum is now with the Wildcats after a wild few minutes, but keeping this momentum in their favor will be essential for the team to pull off the upset.

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