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Halftime notes: Northwestern 0, Michigan 0

Notes from an absolute barn burner of a first half.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

-As expected, neither team has exactly lit up the scoreboard. Both sides combined for 12 punts, three turnovers and just 235 total yards.

-Trevor Siemian threw the ball pretty well in the first half. And he had to because Justin Jackson has been quieter than the Northwestern student section. Jackson was stuffed by Michigan's rush defense, which ranks 13th in the country in rushing defense (3.15 yards per game). Jackson averaged a measly 1.3 yards per carry. Obviously NU can't lean as much on Jackson as it has recently, so Siemian needs to continue to move the chains with his arm.

-Like last game, NU was constantly in third and long, passing situations in the first half, largely because of Jackson's struggles on first and second down. However, unlike against Iowa, the Cats have had more success in those situations so far against the Wolverines. Siemian threw for all six of NU's first downs and averaged over 12 yards per first down toss.

-In the first half Siemian threw for 119 yards, 51 more than he threw for against Iowa.

-Kyle Prater led all receivers with five catches for 56 yards. Prater used his size to create separation and made two tough catches in traffic.

-The Wildcats ran the Wildcat! Northwestern's second drive saw the debut of Matt Alviti. Alviti rushed twice for five yards and was sacked on his lone drop back. While Alviti was used sparingly in the first half, his insertion into the offensive game plan shows just how desperate Fitz is to jump start this offense. It doesn't look like Alviti will be asked to throw much, but he can add an element to the offense with his legs through designed runs and maybe even some read option looks. It will be interesting to see how Fitz uses Alviti as the game wears on.

-Earlier in the week I wrote how important turnovers would be in this game. Michigan won the turnover battle in the first half, 2-1. Siemian's second interception led to Michigan's field goal attempt in the waning seconds of the second quarter, which was blocked.

-NU struggled some to defend the run and create pressure on Devin Gardner, but came up with crucial stops when it needed to.

-Special teams: Chris Gradone was replaced by Hunter Niswander, who didn't do much better. On his first punt Niswander bobbled the snap and kicked the ball 20 yards with his opposite foot. Amazingly, Gradone's first punt traveled just four yards farther and came off his good foot.