On a chilly day in South Bend, things heated up quickly between the Northwestern Wildcats and Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Both teams reached the end zone before 4 minutes had been played; the early highlight being Everett Golson’s 61 yard run 44 seconds into the game. For Northwestern fans, the moment of excitement might have been Matt Alviti’s two-yard touchdown run.
Northwestern applied good defensive pressure on that first Irish drive. But a big third down stop was not in the cards for the men in purple.
The Wildcats wasted no time getting their own offense up and running. Siemian established the pass game early on with a pair of receptions to the Dickerson brothers. With the pressure off of the run, Justin Jackson broke free for a 44-yard rush downfield. Treyvon Green outdid the freshman phenom with his own big run, notching 45 yards. The two Northwestern backs have combined for 132 yards in the first half alone.
30 minutes in and we are definitely not looking at a perfect game. Notre Dame’s special teams bobbled its first two kick off returns and even suffered a blocked PAT, which Nick VanHoose returned for two points.
Northwestern’s offense has had even worse luck. Siemian’s passes have been tipped, picked, and dropped. Tony Jones had three different passes—two with great separation and one in the end zone—that all should have been touchdowns.
Fitz didn’t feel the need to pull him from the field after the first two drops. Maybe that’s because Siemian’s other options weren’t much better: Austin Carr dropped one as well for a turn over on downs.
Siemian has found a few receivers along the way, including a 60-yard pass to Cameron Dickerson. The play stands as the longest by the Wildcats all year, replacing Dickerson’s 54-yard catch against Cal in August. That Wildcat reception also marks the largest single-play-gain by a Notre Dame opponent this season.
Yet the bright spot for both teams has definitely been the rush. The two squads combined for 302 yards and 4 rushing touch downs in the first half.
This game has certainly been anything but ordinary as the two teams are virtually identical, statistically speaking.
Brace yourself for a thrilling second half because the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, ranked 15th in the AP Poll, have only 7 more yards of offense than the Northwestern Wildcats and lead by a mere four points.
27-23 ND over NU with 30 minutes to play…
This is ANYONE’S game.