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Northwestern’s defense hasn’t surrendered any second-half points so far this season

Six of Northwestern’s Big Ten-leading eight interceptions have come in second halves.

Northwestern linebacker Blake Gallagher, right, celebrates after he tackled Nebraska quarterback Luke McCaffrey.
Northwestern linebacker Blake Gallagher, right, celebrates after he tackled Nebraska quarterback Luke McCaffrey.
Nam Y. Huh/AP

Northwestern is 3-0 for the first time since 2015 largely because of a defense that’s yet to give up a point after halftime.

In a 21-13 win over Nebraska on Saturday, the Cornhuskers reached the Northwestern 25, 4 and 14 after halftime and came away empty each time. Two of those series ended with interceptions and the third on downs.

“We’ve got a veteran core group of guys that are pretty unflappable, and our young talent is just gaining more and more confidence the more we play,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “And then a veteran staff. When you’ve got veterans on the field, you’ve got veterans adjusting and calling the game, it gives you a lot of confidence to go out and execute.”

Six of Northwestern’s Big Ten-leading eight interceptions have come in second halves.

Northwestern, which made its first appearance of the season in The Associated Press poll at No. 23 Sunday, also has beaten Maryland and Iowa. The Wildcats are the only FBS team that has played more than one game to have shut out each of its opponents in the second half.

Cincinnati’s defense is next best after half, allowing 2.6 points against FBS opponents. The Bearcats have been especially tough in the second half the last three weeks, limiting high-scoring SMU to three points and shutting out potent Memphis and Houston offenses.