Iowa football ready to handle Northwestern

After a couple disappointing games, Iowa will try to get back on track against Northwestern.


Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley prepares to throw a pass during the Iowa/Purdue game at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. The Boilermakers defeated the Hawkeyes, 38-36.

Jordan Zuniga, Sports Reporter


That is how Hawkeye fans might describe the last two weeks of football, and by extension, the season.

While a 6-3 record is nothing to laugh at, it doesn’t live up to the expectations this team had at the start of the season. Two-straight losses have all but eliminated the Hawkeyes from a Big Ten West title and hurt their chances at a New Year’s Six bowl game.

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However, two weekends of disappointment don’t end the season for Iowa; it still has three games left, and none of them bigger than this weekend’s game against Northwestern.

“This game has really become a big rivalry between us and Northwestern,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It’s not a trophy game, but it really kind of feels like that. They’re an outstanding football team. Their guys play hard and they’re productive, very good football players.”

Not only is this weekend’s game a sort of rivalry game, Iowa also gets a chance to play spoiler for Northwestern.

The Wildcats sit atop the Big Ten West with just one conference loss. Two teams, Wisconsin and Purdue, sit behind Northwestern in the standings with two losses.

Northwestern has tiebreakers over both teams trailing it, but a loss Saturday would put Northwestern in danger of losing its top spot.

Sure, playing spoiler is not as good as playing in the Big Ten title game, but it’s something, and those somethings have the Hawkeyes going full throttle.

“People are out there practicing with the same energy as before,” Keegan Render said. “There are still three games left. Our leaders have done a good job in getting everybody focused on the task and not sulking in what could have happened.”

There’s no question Northwestern will be a tough opponent for the Hawkeyes this weekend. The Wildcats have won their last two games against the Hawkeyes and have proved to be a tough opponent to some major Big Ten opponents.

What is perhaps the toughest challenge about Northwestern is the way it wins games; the Wildcats don’t do it by putting up gaudy numbers. Instead, they simply find a way to score more points than their opponent, no matter how ugly it looks.

“If you look at statistically, they’re not going to be top 10,” Ferentz said. “But they’ve found a way to win, and that’s what good teams do.”

Even though it hasn’t looked the part the past few weeks, Iowa is a good team, too, which is why it’s still heavily favored in this matchup.

Which is why this is a game for the Hawkeyes to reaffirm that they do in fact boast one of the better teams in the Big Ten, and maybe, if they play well enough in their final three games, they can prove to be worthy of a big-time bowl.

“Obviously, we’ve taken some losses and had some tough games,” Noah Fant said. “The best thing we can do is be 3-0 from here on out. That’s what we can control.”

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