Don’t Hate the Player: NCAA Football 14: Northwestern vs. Iowa

WNUR Sports Online Content Director Cameron Songer (@CameronSonger) uses NCAA Football 14 to predict the winner of Northwestern at Iowa.

In the interest of full disclosure, I feel compelled to say that I cheated a little bit in weeks past. In the simulated season, Venric Mark suffered a season-ending injury during the Ohio State game, so, in order to not go against the weekly injury report, I used the “play now” feature to get Mark back in the lineup. However, since Mark is out on Saturday against Iowa, we’re back to the simulated season. Northwestern will play without its star back in the simulation and in real life. (Scary how accurate the game can be, at times.)

Key Players on Northwestern
SS Ibraheim Campbell (JR): 91 Overall, 88 speed
QB Kain Colter (SR): 91 Overall, 86 agility
C Brandon Vitabile (JR): 87 Overall, 87 strength

Key players on Iowa
MLB James Morris (SR): 88 Overall, 88 tackling
TE C.J. Feiedorowicz (SR): 88 Overall, 86 speed
FS Tanner Miller (SR): 87 Overall, 90 acceleration

Northwestern: Overall: B, Offense: B, Defense: B
Iowa: Overall: B+. Offense: B+, Defense: B+

Northwestern Game Recap
Iowa tried a mix of run and pass on their first drive, with limited success. They punted from near midfield, forcing Northwestern to start from their own 3. Kain Colter threw an interception on the Wildcats’ first possession, but Iowa couldn’t capitalize, leading to a punt and touchback. Northwestern then put together an 11-play, 45-yard drive that ended with a long Jeff Budzien field goal. The ‘Cats led 3-0 after one quarter.

Kain Colter's interception in the first quarter was particularly hard to watch.

Kain Colter’s interception in the first quarter was particularly hard to watch.

Iowa’s next drive took them most of the length of the field, but they again couldn’t score from inside the NU 40. This time, a fumble by QB Jake Rudock was recovered by Collin Ellis and the ‘Cats held the shutout. Northwestern went three-and-out and Iowa again drove the ball into Northwestern territory, this time coming up short on a 4th-and-4 from the NU 39. Northwestern couldn’t capitalize on the momentum swing, punting again, but Iowa couldn’t move the ball, either. Northwestern got the ball last in the first half, and scored a the game’s first TD with 2 seconds left in the half thanks to a 22-yard pass from Colter to Tony Jones. At halftime, Northwestern led 10-0.

It was a pretty forgettable half for both teams, as there were 7 combined punts and each team had a turnover. The Hawkeyes really struggled to maintain drives. On four possessions inside the Northwestern 40, Iowa went punt, punt, lost fumble, turnover on downs.

Northwestern got the ball to start the second half and started with four straight handoffs to Treyvon Green, each going for seven yards or more. With the offense rolling like that, it seemed like a good idea to go for 4th-and-1 in the red zone, but Iowa stuffed the inside run by Green and the Wildcats came away empty-handed on a promising drive, but NU still led 10-0. Most of the rest of the third quarter was characterized by punts (3 more, bringing the game total to 10). As the quarter ended, Northwestern was threatening in the red zone thanks to a 42-yard strike to Rashad Lawrence.

A holding penalty followed by a sack forced the ‘Cats to settle for a field goal, making the score 13-0 early in the 4th. Like clockwork, Northwestern surrendered a 7-play, 75 yard drive to cut the lead to 14-7. Facing a potentially season-defining crisis (should they blow the game), Northwestern’s offense managed just one first down before punting. Iowa got the ball on their own 7, down by 6, with 2 minutes to play. It took the Hawkeyes all four downs to get one first down, and they wouldn’t get another. Northwestern took over after a turnover on downs, forced Iowa to burn their timeouts, then kicked the backbreaking field goal to go up 16-7. Northwestern would go on to win by that margin.

Kicker Jeff Budzien was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goal attempts.

Kicker Jeff Budzien was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goal attempts.

Final Thoughts
Hey, look! Northwestern won a conference game! Without Venric Mark! In a game where both offenses struggled, Northwestern’s defense came up big at the right times, with six tackles for a loss during the game. On offense, Treyvon Green rushed for 96 yards and Rashad Lawrence had 104 yards receiving. The virtual game ball goes to Jeff Budzien, who made all three of his field goals (from 47, 32 and 33 yards, respectively).

Big Games This Week
Maryland 31, Clemson 30
South Carolina 34, Missouri 20
Oregon State 33, Stanford 28
Alabama 27, Tennessee 13
UCLA 32, Oregon 28

Around the Big Ten
Illinois 20, Michigan State 19
Nebraska 38, Minnesota 10
Ohio State 45, Penn State 21

Heisman Top 5
Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama

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