NU quarterback Kain Colter, who is making his second career start in place of Dan Persa, finished the half with two touchdowns on 178 all-purpose yards. He finished the half completing nine of 12 passes for 99 yards.
The Wildcats started the game strong. Senior linebacker Bryce McNaul intercepted Jimmy Garoppolo's pass, and Northwestern's offense was already in Eastern Illinois territory. Colter led the Wildcats down the field, and capped the drive with a five-yard touchdown run.
Late in the first quarter, Northwestern would strike again. Senior running back Jacob Schmidt found the endzone for the first time this season. NU extended the lead to 14-0.
Looking to extend the lead, Jeff Budzien missed his first field goal of the season, when he left a 45-yard attempt just short of the uprights.
The Panthers would find the scoreboard midway through the second quarter, as Garoppolo found Kenny Whittaker for a 72-yard strike. Whittaker had open green all around him as a blown coverage allowed him to run easily into the endzone.
Northwestern would respond with a seven play, 58-yard drive, which Colter finished with a four-yard touchdown run.
Freshman running back Trevyon Green would cap off the half with his first touchdown of the season on a two-yard rush.
The game has featured several commemorations of September 11th. The midfield ‘N' logo at Ryan Field is colored in red, white, and blue. The same logo can be seen on Northwestern's helmets. In addition, New York City Engine 4 is at the stadium. That engine was at the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001.