IOWA CITY, Iowa. (KCRG) -
Game: #20 Iowa (5-2) at. Northwestern (1-5)
Kickoff: 11:00 a.m. CT
Venue: Ryan Field
Iowa leads the series with a 50-27-3 all-time record against the Wildcats. The Hawkeyes are 24-16-3 all-time in games that are played in Evanston, Illinois. Prior to a Northwestern win in 1995, the Hawkeyes had won 21 consecutive games against the Wildcats. Since then, Northwestern holds a 13-9 advantage and are on a three game winning streak against the Hawkeyes,
Iowa Tidbits: Iowa’s offensive production has generated criticism over the past three weeks, posting a 13.6 points scored average. What won’t help is the loss of star wide receiver Brandon Smith who is out for 3-5 weeks after suffering a leg injury against Purdue. Iowa’s offense hopes to have a rebound game against a Northwestern Defense that ranks 9th overall in the BIG10.
Iowa’s defense is allowing just 11.6 points per game, the lowest total of the Kirk Ferentz era. Led by A.J. Epenesa, the unit ranks fifth in the country in scoring defense, and eighth in rushing defense allowing just 91.1 yards per game.
After throwing six touchdown passes in the first two games, quarterback Nate Stanley has thrown just three in his last five games. Stanley is tied with Drew Tate for second all-time in program history with 61 touchdown passes in his career. He trails Chuck Long by 13 for the top spot.
The most reliable player for the Hawkeyes this season has been kicker Keith Duncan. After battling and eventually winning the starting job, Duncan leads the nation with 17 made field goals. He is 17-19 on field goal attempts this season and a perfect 16-16 on PATs. Duncan leads the Hawkeyes and ranks 10th in the country with 67 points scored this season.
A look at the opponent: Northwestern Last year, the Wildcats celebrated at Kinnick Stadium after defeating the Hawkeyes 14-10 and clinching a BIG10 West title. A win this year would mark just the second time in program history that the Wildcats get a victory over Iowa for four-consecutive years.
Games between the Wildcats and Hawkeyes are often won on the ground and Northwestern boasts a tough rushing attack led by Isaiah Bowser. NU has outgained the Hawkeyes 529-232 on the ground over the past three seasons, with Bowser leading the way last year with a 165 yard, one touchdown performance.
Iowa’s offensive line will have their hands full trying to block senior defensive end Joe Gaziano. Gaziano needs just 2.5 sacks away from tying Casey Dailey’s program record of 28. Gaziano currently leads all active BIG10 players in career sacks and is second nationally behind Boise State’s Curtis Weaver.
The Northwestern depth chart does not list a starting quarterback for this Saturdays game, instead it lists junior Aidan Smith or sophomore Hunter Johnson. Both Smith and Johnson have seen action in four games this season, with Johnson holding a slight advantage in passing yards with 367 (Smith has 315). The two are neck and neck in rushing categories as well, with Smith having 105 yards gained while Johnson has 89, both have scored a rushing touchdown.