Following a 24-13 loss at home to the Nebraska Cornhuskers to open Big Ten play, the Northwestern Wildcats travel to Iowa City to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes. Northwestern hasn’t won in Iowa City since 2009 but they’ll look to topple the Hawkeyes and pick up their first Big Ten win on the road.
Here’s how our broadcasters think the Wildcats will fare against Iowa:
Michael Stern (@michaeljstern23): Iowa 21, Northwestern 10
The Wildcat offense struggles against a tough Iowa defense, and the Hawkeyes grind out just enough offense to win their fourth straight against Northwestern.
Player to Watch: George Kittle, TE, Iowa. Kittle, a Hawkeye from birth whose father was a captain of Iowa’s 1982 Rose Bowl team, should see a bigger role in the passing game Saturday after leading receiver Matt VandeBerg broke his foot in practice. Kittle has never recorded a reception against Northwestern, but that is likely to change this year, especially if Iowa wants to come out on top.
Jason Dorow (@jasondorow): Northwestern 17, Iowa 13
Following a loss at home to NDSU, the Hawkeyes went on the road to Piscataway last weekend and were outgained by Rutgers…. by Rutgers. Northwestern doesn’t solve its offensive issues this week, but the ‘Cats eek out a win in a defensive struggle.
Player to Watch: CJ Robbins, DE, Northwestern. Northwestern has tried a lot of different bodies at defensive end this season, and they’ll need a run stopper there on Saturday.
Ari Ross (@aross50): Iowa 33, Northwestern 17
Northwestern’s going to have to win the battle in the trenches and force Iowa to be one-dimensional offensively if they’re going to have any chance to win this game, but so far this season, Northwestern hasn’t been able to win those battles. Expect Iowa to run all over the ‘Cats defense and a late Wildcats’ touchdown to make this game appear closer on the scoreboard than it really was.
Player to Watch: Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa: In two games against the ‘Cats in 2014 and 2015, Wadley rushed for 310 yards and 5 touchdowns. Stopping Wadley is a major key for the Wildcats defense on Saturday.
Ryan Fish (@ryanmfish): Iowa 24, Northwestern 10
Northwestern has the lowest-scoring offense in the Big Ten, facing one of the conference’s stingiest defenses. That doesn’t bode well for the ‘Cats, who haven’t won at Kinnick Stadium since 2009.
Player to Watch: C.J. Beathard, QB, Iowa. Beathard’s been a solid game manager so far this season, but could be licking his chops at a vulnerable Northwestern secondary. The Wildcats need to limit his production to have a chance in this one.
Sam Brief (@sambrief): Iowa 24, Northwestern 21
Iowa isn’t that good – they lost to North Dakota State and barley eked out a win over Rutgers in back-to-back weeks – so I see this as a close one. But Northwestern’s issues on both sides of the ball (and in the kicking game) are too much to overlook. Iowa by a field goal.
Player to Watch: Jack Mitchell/Matt Micucci, Kicker, Northwestern. Whoever it is that kicks field goals for Northwestern needs to deliver. Mitchell has left 10 would-be points on the board this year.
Foster Stubbs (@fos_da_boss): Iowa 28, Northwestern 14
The ‘Cats painful inconsistencies on both sides of the ball are exposed as their downward spiral continues at a raucous Kinnick Stadium.
Player to Watch: C.J. Beathard, QB, Iowa. Look for the seasoned Beathard to exploit a Big Ten-worst Northwestern pass defense which has given up 257.7 pass yards per game so far.
Josh Burton (@josh_burton1): Iowa 24, Northwestern 10
The Hawkeyes demolished Northwestern 40-10 last season behind 204 yards from Akrum Wadley, who filled in well for the injured Jordan Canzeri. Wadley is back this season and the Wildcats defense is worse, so he – and backfield mate LeShun Daniels Jr. – could post big numbers on Saturday. If Northwestern can’t stop Iowa’s rushing attack, this one will probably be much of a rout as last year’s meeting was.
Player to Watch: Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa. Wadley is a fast and explosive back but hasn’t even gotten the most carries on his own team so far this season, as Daniels has notched 15 more carries. But, on a per-yard basis and in terms of touchdowns, Wadley has the upper hand and considering how well he played against Northwestern in 2015, look for him to get his fair share of touches.
Parker Johnson (@sportsbyparker): Iowa 21, Northwestern 7
After allowing 310 rushing yards to Nebraska last week, the Cats will struggle again as they face Iowa’s strong ground game.
Player to Watch: Anthony Walker Jr., LB, Northwestern.
Adam Braunstein (@braunstein_adam): Iowa 27, Northwestern 13
Iowa only beat Rutgers by 7 points last week, and that is very bad. However, back in Iowa, I expect a much better game from the Hawkeyes that the ‘Cats will be unable to match.
Player to Watch: Flynn Nagel, WR, Northwestern. Austin Carr is really good, but Thorson needs another reliable target. Lets see if Nagel can step up and fill that void in Iowa.
Matt McHugh (@mattmcsports27): Northwestern 27, Iowa 25.
The ‘Cats will come through with a B1G upset in Iowa City thanks to a weak Iowa run defense. It will be a close game throughout, and the ‘Cats will pull through and hold the lead in the 4th.
Player to Watch: Desmond King, CB, Iowa. King is arguably the best cornerback in college football, but the ‘Cats breakout receiver Austin Carr could give him a different challenge. Or not, but that would be sad.
Amit Mallik (@upper90shot): Northwestern 24, Iowa 19
The ‘Cats grind out a tough early conference victory behind a dominant run game, and a defense up to the task.
Player to Watch: Clayton Thorson, QB, Northwestern. If Northwestern has to play catch-up and the run game flounders early, Thorson is going to have to go full gunslinger mode. Hopefully he emulates any of the successful gunslingers out there ad avoids going full Delhomme.
Ari Levin (@levinari): Iowa 28, Northwestern 12
Iowa hasn’t been nearly the dominant team they were last year – losing to North Dakota State and nearly Rutgers as well. But Northwestern is nowhere near the team of last year, which lost badly to Iowa at home.
Player to watch: Jack Mitchell OR Matt Micucci, K, Northwestern. Jack Mitchell’s kicking woes have been well-documented this year, and Pat Fitzgerald said that this week would feature a kicking competition. It will be interesting to see who gets the job, and how they perform.