By the Numbers: Iowa vs. Northwestern

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"Alyssa Hitchcock"

“Northwestern running back Justin Jackson runs the ball during the Iowa/Northwestern game in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 48-7. (The Daily Iowan/Alyssa Hitchcock)”

No. 17 Iowa will head to Evanston, Illinois, on Saturday to take on No. 20 Northwestern in a game with huge Big Ten West implications.

It’s Homecoming for the Wildcats, and all signs point to this game being a defensive battle royale. The final score should be close, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise if this game is just as ugly as the Hawkeyes’ win over Wisconsin on Oct. 3.
Here’s a look at the statistics both teams have put up through six games.

Passing yards allowed per game — Iowa: 232.3 (ninth in the conference), Northwestern: 138.2 (second in the conference)
While Desmond King, Greg Mabin, and the rest of the Iowa secondary have been good this season, Northwestern has been incredible.

The Wildcats have only given up more than 155 yards passing twice this season — 178 yards to Ball State and 179 to Michigan — and have limited teams to 4.5 yards per attempt.

Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard has been good, but not great, this season, however, the last time he faced a top-tier defense, Wisconsin held him to 77 yards.

Northwestern’s passing attack leaves a bit to be desired. Quarterback Clayton Thorson has only reached more than 200 yards passing once and leads a passing offense that is the worst in the Big Ten.

Rushing yards — Iowa: 1,207 (fourth in the conference), Northwestern: 1,282 (second in the conference)
Both teams have found plenty of success on the ground this season, and the yardage has come from a variety of places.

Iowa’s Jordan Canzeri leads all rushers in the game with 697 yards, but the Wildcats’ Justin Jackson isn’t far behind. Jackson has 661 yards on 150 carries this year but has only found the end zone once.

Interestingly, Thorson and Beathard is each team’s third-leading rusher with 161 yards and 192 yards, respectively.

Field-goal percentage — Iowa: 88.9 (second in the conference), Northwestern: 71.4 (eighth in the conference)
In a game that has a high probability of being close and low scoring, taking advantage of any opportunity for points will be extremely important.

Northwestern kicker Jack Mitchell has missed four field goals and an extra point. He does have a decent leg, but is only 5-of-11 on field goals beyond 40 yards in his career.

It’s an advantage for Iowa, then, that Marshall Koehn is 8-of-9 on his kicks this year, though he has missed two extra points. Koehn is also a touchback machine, sending 64.7 percent of his kickoffs through the end zone.

Only 20 percent of Northwestern’s kickoffs have resulted in touchbacks.

Penalty yards per game — Iowa: 51.5 (sixth in the conference), Northwestern: 34.8 (first in the conference)
One of the Wildcats’ keys for success this season has been avoiding penalties. Only twice this year has Northwestern been penalized for more than 50 yards; Iowa has had five such games.

Against Illinois, the Hawkeyes were penalized six times for 80 yards, a season high, and many of those penalties came at bad moments.

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