EVANSTON, ILL. -- The Gophers trail Northwestern 10-0 at halftime. Some quick thoughts:

Both teams have played excellent defense. Minnesota’s offense managed just 20 yards in the second quarter.

Special teams continue to plague the Gophers. Peter Mortell had the wind and delivered a low line drive punt. Miles Shuler returned it to the Minnesota 5-yard line. Mortell made a touchdown-saving tackle, but Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson scored on a 5-yard run on the next play.

Northwestern’s defense is one of the best in the country on third down. The Wildcats cover receivers well and bring pressure.

Shannon Brooks got his first career start for the Gophers and delivered several nice first-down runs of about five yards.

Mitch Leidner had a few overthrows in the first quarter. And he underthrew the ball on his second quarter interception. It was third-and-8, and Leidner tried hitting Eric Carter on the sideline. Northwestern CB Matthew Harris jumped the route for his third interception of the year.

The Gophers came up with a big stop defensively the next series. Jack Lynn stuffed Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson for a loss on third-and-short. Jack Mitchell’s 41-yard field goal attempt into the wind went off the left upright.