Looking into the numbers behind football’s loss to Northwestern

Iowa couldn’t find consistency in the running game, but there were some bright spots in the loss, such as a terrific punting performance.

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Looking into the numbers behind football’s loss to Northwestern

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley misses a pass from quarterback Nate Stanley during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston Oct. 21, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley misses a pass from quarterback Nate Stanley during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston Oct. 21, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Ben Smith

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley misses a pass from quarterback Nate Stanley during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston Oct. 21, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Ben Smith

Ben Smith

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley misses a pass from quarterback Nate Stanley during the game between Iowa and Northwestern at Ryan Field in Evanston Oct. 21, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

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Northwestern held Iowa to fewer than 100 yards on Oct. 21, the third time this season an opponent has limited the Hawkeyes to under the century mark on the ground.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Iowa mustered a lackluster 89 rushing yards, averaging 2.7 yards per carry.

Heading into the game against Northwestern, and for the previous game against Illinois as well, head coach Kirk Ferentz said he wanted to spread out the carries so Wadley would not be taking a beating each weekend.

RELATED: Baumann: Iowa offense has been inconsistent

The senior tailback registered 26 carries. The only other running back to touch the ball, Toren Young, had only 2.

Wide receiver Imir Smith-Marsette tallied more yards than Young (yes, Iowa’s wideout touched the ball twice for 6 yards; Young ran for 4 yards on his pair).

The Hawkeyes kept the ball on the ground late in the game while the passing attack moved the ball fairly well.

In overtime, Iowa ran for 3 yards to start its possession. An incomplete pass set the Hawkeyes up with a third and 7, and offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz opted to keep the ball on the ground. Wadley gained 4 yards, resulting in fourth down, and Hawkeye fans know how that story ended.

53 yards per punt

Once again, the Hawkeyes found themselves in a game in which field position proved to be critical, because neither team could muster consistent scoring drives.

Punters Ryan Gersonde and Colton Rastetter produced arguably their best punting performances of the season. The duo averaged 53 yards per punt (Gersonde 52.6, Rastetter 55).

Gersonde also bombed a punt 61 yards.

Against Illinois, Gersonde averaged 37.7 yards per punt. Rastetter averaged 37.8 in the loss to Michigan State.

1 turnover

Both Iowa and Northwestern played relatively clean football. Neither squad turned the ball over in the first three quarters.

The game’s lone turnover came from Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley. Northwestern’s J.R. Pace picked off Stanely’s pass on third and 8, returning the interception 23 yards with under eight minutes remaining in the game.

The Wildcats did not capitalize, as Clayton Thorson’s pass on fourth down fell incomplete, and Iowa marched down the field to tie the game at 10.

Justin Jackson: 3.7 yards per carry

Linebacker Josey Jewell and safety Brandon Snyder did not play on because of injuries, leaving questions about how the defense would be able to hold down Northwestern’s prominent back, Justin Jackson.

Jackson entered the game on the heels of a 171-yard, 2-touchdown performance against Maryland the week before. Before the Maryland game, Jackson had two 100-yard rushing performances under his belt this season.

Iowa’s defense contained Jackson, limiting him to 93 yards on 25 carries.

Jackson did have an impact in the passing game, however. The senior caught 5 passes for 38 yards, including a 23-yard gain on a third and 9 in overtime, setting up the Wildcats in prime position to score at the 1-yard line.

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