Rapid Recap: No. 20 Iowa 20, Northwestern 0


Josh Hoffman/The Daily Northwestern

Isaiah Bowser dives forward on a run. The sophomore running back finished the day with 36 yards.

Peter Warren, Print Managing Editor


If you wanted to encapsulate Northwestern’s season so far, Saturday’s game at a sleepy Ryan Field would be the perfect summary.

The offense was bad. The defense did a really good job but struggled on third down. And the Wildcats left the field with yet another loss.

Iowa played a classic Kirk Ferentz game — slowly and methodically grinding NU (1-6, 0-5 Big Ten) like a mortar and pestle triturating peppercorns into a delicate powder. The result was an impressive performance as the No. 20 Hawkeyes (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) left Evanston with a 20-0 victory.

NU forced Iowa into a 3-and-out on their first possession, but Aidan Smith’s pass was tipped at the line by Geno Stone and intercepted by Chauncey Golston on the Cats third play of the game. The Hawkeyes got the ball at the NU 28, but Keith Duncan missed the ensuing field goal.

Iowa got on the scoreboard in the middle of the first quarter when Nate Stanley found Tyrone Tracy for a touchdown. Senior cornerback Trae Williams — playing his first meaningful minutes in weeks after being sidelined with an injury — had Tracy wrapped up at about the 35 yard line, but the Indianapolis native spun out of the tackle and galloped into the end zone for six.

Duncan added a field goal early in the second quarter to send the Hawkeyes into the half up 10-0.

After getting a fourth down stop to start the second half, Iowa drove down the field to the tune of a 13-play, 59-yard drive that ended in a Mekhi Sargent touchdown run. The Hawkeyes put the final granulation to NU’s chances with a field goal with about 10 minutes left in the game.

1. It’s the same old, same old with the offense. Smith was uninspiring, finishing 18-for-32 for 138 yards. He was sacked on third down three times. He made some good throws, including one 17-yard strike to Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman on the first drive of the third quarter, but also missed his target more than a handful of ties. Isaiah Bowser averaged 2.6 yards per carry. The team was also 0 of 4 on fourth down, with Smith feeling the pressure multiple times and being forced to make quick, unsuccessful reads.

2. Defense wins championships, but not games. Like it has for almost every game this season, NU’s defense held firm for most of the game. But by the end of the game, the Cats were clearly worn down and started to give up more yards. Iowa had 12 possessions in the game, and had more than five plays only three times, but Iowa scored on all three of those possessions.

Minus a few catches from Tracy, the Cats did not give up any big plays. However, the defense did struggle once again with lack of turnovers and third-down stops — the two things they have not been above average in this season.

3. A bowl game looks like a pipe dream at this point. Pat Fitzgerald is in uncharted territory. Over the entirety of his college football career — both as a player and as a coach — he has never entered November with only one victory in the win column. With six losses on the season and matchups against undefeated Minnesota and a streaking Illinois to conclude the season, the Cats cannot have anymore duds if they want to be playing in December.

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