Saturday, November 5, 2011
Halftime: Northwestern 7, Nebraska 3
By Adam Rittenberg
A game many pegged to be an offensive shootout has been dominated by the two defenses at Nebraska's Memorial Stadium.
The much-maligned Northwestern defense turned in its best half of the season, containing Taylor Martinez, Rex Burkhead and the high-octane Nebraska offense. Northwestern has tackled much better than usual and gotten off blocks, preventing the big plays Nebraska has lived on all season.
Northwestern's offense dominated the first quarter, but the Huskers are showing why they received their beloved Blackshirts earlier this week. The defense buckled down in a big way during the second quarter and recorded an interception following a tipped pass by DT Baker Steinkuhler. Steinkuhler also had a sack late in the half.
Both teams have been sloppy with the football, combining for four giveaways, including two Nebraska turnovers inside Northwestern territory. The offenses are piling up yards and first downs -- Nebraska has 181 yards and eight first downs, Northwestern has 160 yards and 12 first downs -- but they're struggling to put up points.
A potential concern for Northwestern is Dan Persa's health. The senior quarterback appeared to injure his left shoulder in the second quarter following a hit by Nebraska's Eric Martin. Persa returned but left a few minutes later, clutching his non-throwing shoulder. Kain Colter replaced Persa at quarterback, but Trevor Siemian also might be used.
It should be an interesting second half. Nebraska has been a much better second-half team than Northwestern this year.