It’s the second straight top-20 matchup for Northwestern, and this one has Big Ten West division consequences. Do our broadcasters think the ‘Cats reach bowl eligibility in week seven and avenge last year’s blowout loss in Iowa City?
Zach Pereles (@zach_pereles): Iowa 13, Northwestern 10
The Wildcats can’t run on another strong defense and another stagnant offensive game plan lets the ‘Cats down on Homecoming.
Player to watch: The entire offensive line, Northwestern. When Northwestern can’t run the ball effectively, they can’t win. Success starts up front.
Josh Wasserman: Iowa 24, Northwestern 10
Northwestern’s coming up on an important stretch of the season, and they struggled with their first test. Iowa has had some close games, but the most points they’ve allowed in a single game was 24 to Pittsburgh, and one of those touchdowns came off of a blocked punt. The Wildcats are going to have to dig deep offensively after being shut out by Michigan.
Player to Watch: Jordan Canzeri, RB, Iowa. Canzeri has 10 total touchdowns on the year. The rest of the Hawkeyes have 12. Canzeri’s rushed for nearly 700 yards and has 9 touchdowns on the ground, and the Wildcats must stop him if they want to shut down Iowa’s offense.
Ari Ross (@aross50): Northwestern 24, Iowa 13
Northwestern needs to bounce back against Iowa, and not collapse after a big loss like it did a few years ago. How the defense and special teams bounce back from last week’s loss will be key; Northwestern has to put the Michigan game behind them. If the Wildcats can contain Jordan Canzeri, and the offense can put up a few scores, they should get their first homecoming win since 2012.
Player to Watch: Keith Watkins II, CB, Northwestern. With Matthew Harris out for the foreseeable future, the ‘Cats secondary, once among the deepest positions on the team, is now onto it’s next man up – Watkins II. Like Ball State picked on Terrance Brown, Iowa will look to take advantage of a perceived weakness in the ‘Cats secondary and how Watkins performs will have a huge impact on NU’s game plan.
Jason Dorow: Northwestern 17, Iowa 13
Iowa’s defense is no Michigan, and the Hawkeye receivers aren’t athletic enough to exploit NU’s depleted secondary. The ‘Cats get back in the win column thanks to a key play on special teams and the return to Ryan Field.
Player to watch: Watkins II. With no Matt Harris and no Kyle Queiro, Northwestern is limited at corner and nickelback. And Watkins could be asked to play them both Saturday.
Tim Balk (@timbalk): Northwestern 17, Iowa 16
Get up early this Saturday: the game of NU’s season is upon us and just in time for Homecoming. After the nightmare in Ann Arbor, I’m looking for a bounce back win.
Player to watch: The whole offensive line, Northwestern. The ‘Cats got whipped up front at Michigan. If you look at NU’s big wins this year, all have come against teams that struggle to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks–Stanford is 113th in the nation in sacks, Minnesota is 80th and Duke is 69th. The Hawkeyes are seventh in the nation in sacks, and the NU O-line will need to protect Thorson much better than they did last week for NU to take down Iowa.
Sam Brief (@sambrief): Northwestern 24, Iowa 21
The ‘Cats will be playing with fire, trying to correct the litany of mistakes they made last week in Ann Arbor. Northwestern fans can’t look at the Michigan game as indicative of the rest of Big Ten play for the ‘Cats, as UM is one of the best teams in the country right now. I expect an efficient performance from Clayton Thorson against a middling Iowa secondary and for the ‘Cats defense to bear down on their home turf.
Player to watch: Watkins II. With Matt Harris out with a facial laceration, the pressure falls on Watkins’ shoulders to step in and replace Harris effectively.
Jesse Kirsch (@JesseRKirsch): Northwestern 17, Iowa 13
The Wildcats need to respond this week and we all know they’re probably amped.This is homecoming and Ryan Field has had a special amount of energy all year. This could be as electric as the Ohio State game two years ago, and this time the Wildcats should squeeze by.
Player to watch: Solomon Vault, KR, Northwestern. Vault will need to explode on special teams for Northwestern to stay in the game. The offense stalled in the Big House, so the Wildcats will need to take advantage of unique opportunities.
Tim Hackett (@HacksawTim): Iowa 20, Northwestern 14
Northwestern was beaten at every single position in their emphatic loss to Michigan. No offense to Wisconsin, but Northwestern is the best team Iowa has played yet this season, and the Hawkeyes will likely be eager to prove their worth. On the flipside, Northwestern must put up a good performance if they want to prove their early-season success was more than a fluke. Easier said than done.
Player to Watch: C.J. Robbins, Defensive Tackle, Northwestern. The Iowa Hawkeyes have long been known for their stellar offensive linemen, and this year it’s no different: the Hawkeyes are averaging over 200 yards rushing per game. It will be up to Robbins and the rest of the defensive line to plug some holes and create a pass rush, something the defense has really struggled with in recent weeks.
Josh Burton (@josh_burton1): Northwestern 17, Iowa 13
There’s no way Northwestern plays as badly this weekend as the Wildcats did last Saturday against Michigan. I predict both a big bounceback from the team and from Clayton Thorson/Justin Jackson, who each were not good in Ann Arbor.
Player to watch: Dean Lowry, DE, Northwestern. The biggest reason Northwestern played so poorly last weekend was because the defensive line, led by Lowry, couldn’t get any pressure on Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock who had all the time in the world to pick the Wildcats’ defense apart.
Ryan Fish (@RyanMFish): Northwestern 17, Iowa 13
Even with Matt Harris out indefinitely, I think the defense responds this week and the front seven is up to the challenge against Jordan Canzeri. I also think the offense bounces back and “the ballcarrier” gets back over 100 yards. Fitz and co. pull it out and are back in the B1G West driver’s seat.
Player to watch: Hunter Niswander, Punter, Northwestern. SPOILER: It’s probably not going to be a shootout at Ryan Field on Saturday. Field position will be key, and Niswander has been inconsistent so far this season (last week was no exception). A better game from him would be a huge boost for the ‘Cats’ D.
Henry DaMour (@henrydamour): Northwestern 20, Iowa 9
IF Northwestern has flushed the Michigan slaughter, they will come back and play the shutout defense that they’re known for against an offense that is respectable, but not a Michigan-caliber offense. Injuries are plaguing the Hawkeyes as of now, and with the B1G West basically on the line, the Wildcats will show up in a big way with Thorson continuing to improve.
Player to watch: C.J. Beathard, QB, Iowa. He needs to step up as the leader of this team and as a dual-threat quarterback. With his four offensive starters out with injuries and even him being a little banged up after the Illinois game, he needs to fill the holes left by injured players.
Michael Stern (@michaeljstern23): Iowa 17, Northwestern 16
It’ll be a nail-biter at Ryan Field, but the ‘Cats’ inability to execute in the red zone hurts them on Homecoming.
Player to watch: Jerminic Smith, WR, Iowa. The team that makes a big play wins this game, and with normal deep threat Tevaun Smith out, it’ll be up to Jerminic to break a big play for the Hawkeyes.