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Halftime Notes: Northwestern 14, Penn State 3

Northwestern started about as well as possible in the first half. They lead and should be up by even more.

-Northwestern's defense forced three straight three-and-outs to start the game and gave Trevor Siemian and the NU offense great field position. Moreover, aside from a 51-yard deep ball to DaeSean Hamilton, the Cats have kept Christian Hackenberg at bay, hurrying him often and sacking him twice. The Cats also made five tackles for loss and gave up just three first downs to NU's 11.

-Trevor Siemian scored both of NU's touchdowns on 1-yard QB sneaks, which is a career-high for him. Siemian is now tied with Solomon Vault and Justin Jackson for the most rushing touchdowns on this team.

-Siemian threw for 16 of 27 and 202 yards in the first half. Dan Vitale led all receivers with four catches for 74 yards. Hackenberg threw for 12 of 21 and 131 yards.

-Northwestern is winning the field position battle. NU's worst field position was the NU 20 yard line after a blocked field goal. The Cats started their other drives at the NU 34 (2), NU 39, the Penn State 31 and the PSU 29 thanks to sizable returns by Solomon Vault (kickoff, 31 yards) and Miles Shuler (punt, 42 yards), great kick coverage and a 17-yard punt by PSU. Penn State's best starting field position, on the other hand, was their own 28-yard line following the missed field goal.

-On its first offensive possession Northwestern marched down the field into Penn State territory with tempo, but a questionable chop block call on Treyvon Green stalled the drive and forced a long field-goal attempt. Jack Mitchell then ensued to miss the 44-yard kick, which was the first missed field goal of the year for NU.

- NU failed to convert a fake field goal attempt at the PSU 3-yard line late in the first quarter. Instead of taking the easy three points and a three possession lead, Fitz took a gamble that might come back to bite his team.

-Siemian looked decisive, quickly hitting his receivers on short outs and screen patterns. Siemian missed on a few downfield throws, but he also connected on two catches down the near sideline that set up both touchdowns in the first quarter. One of those throws was a beautifully thrown back-shoulder toss to Tony Jones.

-Northwestern blocked another kick late in the second quarter to keep Penn State scoreless. The Cats have now blocked four kicks this season, which ranks first in the nation.

-The Cats had three penalties in the first half, but each of them really hurt them. The first was the aforementioned chop block ball on Green, which likely cost NU points. The second was a delay of game penalty on a 4th and 7 in PSU territory that forced NU to punt. And the last one was a roughing the punter penalty late in the second quarter, which led to a Penn State field goal and spoiled a first-half shutout.

-Northwestern has led at halftime in each of the last four NU-PSU meetings. The Nittany Lions went on to win all four of those games by an average of about 11 points.