The Northwestern Wildcats will host the Iowa Hawkeyes in a Big Ten battle Saturday afternoon from Ryan Field. The Iowa Hawkeyes rebounded from a two-game slide by recording a much-needed 26-20 home win against Purdue last week. The Hawkeyes had lost to #19 Michigan and #10 Penn State prior to Saturday’s win. Iowa holds a 1-1 road record which included an 18-17 win against Iowa State. The Hawkeyes climbed three spots to #20 in the AP Top 25 rankings this week.
The Northwestern Wildcats are still hunting for their first conference win of the season. The Wildcats have dropped four consecutive games due to poor offense which included a loss to Wisconsin followed by a terrible 52-3 home loss to #4 Ohio State last week. The Wildcats lone win of the year occurred against UNLV early in the season. Northwestern owns a 1-2 record on their home field. The Wildcats registered a 14-10 upset road win against Iowa last season.
#20 Iowa Outlasts Purdue to Even Big Ten Record to 2-2
The Iowa Hawkeyes will look to lift their Big Ten record to 3-2 in this one. Iowa opened the season with four consecutive wins, then went on to lose to Michigan and Penn State. They rebounded with a solid defensive effort in a 26-13 home win against Purdue last week in a game that had Iowa favored by 17.5 points. Nate Stanley is consistently racking up the passing yards, although he only has one touchdown pass in his last three games. The senior QB has accrued 1771 passing yards with a 9:5 TD to INT ratio, and he will be tested by a strong pass defense in this one.
The Hawkeyes haven’t received a ton of production on the ground. They are led by Mekhi Sargent who has collected 397 rushing yards on the year. The junior RB has rushed for over 90 yards twice this season.
Hawkeyes’ receiver leader Ihmir Smith-Marsette is also producing, making at least four receptions in three out of his last four games. The junior WR is up to 443 receiving yards. The Iowa offense won’t put up big numbers as this team relies on their defense to win games. Brandon Smith (407 receiving yards) is out until late November with a leg injury. Northwestern is struggling but their defense has held up this season with the exception of last week.
"We know it's going to be the same kind of challenge for us this week. It's interesting, you look back early probably since 2015, they've played as well as anybody and had as much success as anybody on the west side if not more so. It's a credit to their program. We know it's going to be a big challenge. We're getting ready for it right now."
The Hawkeyes’ stifling defense is among the best in the FBS and they have a good chance to pad their stats in this one. They have not allowed more than 20 points this season. Iowa is very good against the pass and even better against the run which is holding opponents to 92 yards per game. The Hawkeyes are currently averaging 25 points, ranking them 90th overall. They are holding opponents to 11.6 points, placing them fifth in the FBS.
Northwestern Clobbered by Ohio State, Fall to 0-4 in Big Ten Play
The Northwestern Wildcats’ difficult schedule resumes in this tilt. The Wildcats have already faced three teams ranked in the AP Top 25 starting with a loss to Stanford in week one. They are coming off an ugly 52-3 home loss to Ohio State last week to fall to 0-4 in Big Ten action. Aidan Smith struggled in the defeat, amassing only 42 passing yards. The junior QB is struggling, logging a 1:5 TD to INT ratio with 315 passing yards. There is a good chance sophomore QB Hunter Johnson will play after sitting out the last two games. Johnson is also having trouble, posting 367 passing yards with just one touchdown pass against four interceptions. Johnson was a five-star recruit and he was originally recruited by Clemson where he tallied 234 passing yards in 2017.
The Wildcats will lean on Drake Anderson on the ground. The freshman RB rushed for 141 yards in Northwestern’s lone win and only 39 yards last week. Anderson has tallied 405 rushing yards on the season.
Northwestern still does not have a receiver with 200 receiving yards this season. Riley Lees has collected a team-high 158 receiving yards. Northwestern’s offense has been abysmal, especially in conference play, and it doesn’t get any easier against an elite Iowa defense.
The Wildcats defense has kept them in games in most of their losses. They were able to neutralize both Wisconsin and Nebraska but were exploited by the Buckeyes last week. Northwestern’s pass defense has especially excelled this season. The Wildcats are scoring an average of 12.5 points, ranking them down at 128th in the FBS. The Northwestern defense is allowing an average of 25.2 points, placing them 54th overall.
The Iowa Hawkeyes are:
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games.
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 conference games.
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
The Northwestern Wildcats are:
- 11-3-1 ATS in their last 15 October games.
- 12-3 ATS in their last 15 games after scoring less than 20 points in their previous game.
- 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games following a straight-up loss.