I hate to be overly dramatic, but if Minnesota doesn't rally in the second half against Northern Illinois, the Gophers' season might be hanging by a thread.
The Big Ten schedule does Minnesota no favors with home games against Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State and Northwestern. The Gophers have to find a way to beat Northern Illinois tonight.
After two big special-teams plays helped the Gophers score 10 unanswered points, Minnesota once again fell victim to a problem in the kicking game right before halftime. A blocked punt by Northern Illinois led to a touchdown pass with three seconds left, and NIU leads 20-13.
Both teams are trying to run the ball, but Northern Illinois is having much more success behind Chad Spann (106 rush yards, 1 TD on seven carries). Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber turned in a solid first half, completing 8 of 14 passes with a 20-yard touchdown strike to Da'Jon McKnight, but the Gophers need to get running back Duane Bennett going.
NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish is giving Minnesota's defense trouble, just like he did as a freshman in 2008.
Again, I can't understand the importance of the second half for Minnesota. Tim Brewster's crew must get it done.