EVANSTON, Ill. – After each team scored on its opening possession, the game turned into a defensive struggle on a windy and rainy day. At halftime, Northwestern leads Michigan 6-3:
- With defensive tackle Sean McEvilly out again for Northwestern, Michigan began the game attacking the middle of the Wildcat defense. Michigan racked up 46 yards on the ground in the first quarter, led by freshman running back Derrick Green. Fitzgerald Toussaint, who had been Michigan's starting tailback for the better part of the last two seasons, did not see a carry. By halftime, Northwestern's defense buckled down on Michigan's ground attack, holding them to -6 yards rushing in the second quarter and just 40 for the half.
- Like Michigan, Northwestern moved the ball well on its first offensive drive of the game. Both Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian completed passes to four different receivers. Likewise, four different players recorded carries. After getting away from the two-quarterback system for a few weeks, Colter and Siemian were on the field together on a significant number of Northwestern's offensive plays in the opening half.
- A staple of Michigan's offense is the screen game, one of the leftover aspects of the Rich Rodriguez era. Early on, Northwestern struggled to defend the bubble screen as cornerbacks Nick VanHoose and Matt Harris traditionally give the receivers they are covering a cushion. But moving into the second quarter, Northwestern began to drop defensive ends into coverage, deflecting a fair amount of Devin Gardner's short passes.
- Near the end of the second quarter, Northwestern ran an efficient two-minute drive resulting in a field goal by Jeff Budzien. Northwestern stalled inside the five-yard line after three straight running plays. The drive covered 56 yards on ten plays. Throughout the first half, Northwestern's offense remained relatively balanced with 22 rushes resulting in 61 yards and 15 passes for 77 yards.