The winds are gusting at the stadium this afternoon, and both teams have scored during the quarter where they had the wind at their back. Illinois converted a 20-yard field goal from Nick Immakus on the first drive of the game to give Illinois an early 3-0 lead. Minnesota eventually answered back, with Jordan Wettstein having a 20-yard field goal of his own in the second quarter to tie the score at three, and that's where we stand right now.
The teams have been fairly evenly matched through the first half of play. Minnesota has picked up eight first downs so far, and has 145 yards of total offense. Illinois has seven first downs and 170 yards of total offense.
The star on offense so far for the Gophers has been running back Donnell Kirkwood. Kirkwood has 86 yards on 12 carries so far on the afternoon, including a big 38-yard burst to start the drive that led to Minnesota's lone score of the afternoon. Quarterback Philip Nelson has struggled thus far, completing just 3-of-7 passes for 18 yards.
For Illinois, quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has completed 5-of-8 passes for 108 yards, nearly half of which came on a 49-yard flea flicker play to Spencer Harris on Illinois first drive. Donovan Young leads the Illini in rushing in the first half, with 28 yards on six carries.
Illinois has the lone turnover of the afternoon, as Scheelhaase had a fumble in Minnesota territory that was recovered by Roland Johnson, but the Gophers couldn't convert it into points.
That's where we stand at halftime in this one, with the Gophers needed a big second half in order to secure bowl eligibility for the first time since 2009. They currently stand tied with the Fighting Illini of Illinois at 3-3.