Iowa gives Northwestern a trip to Indianapolis

Iowa’s loss to Northwestern boiled down to a lack of execution in the big moments.


Katina Zentz

Northwestern wide receiver Bennnet Skowronek catches a touchdown pass during the Iowa/Northwestern game at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, November 10, 2018. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 14-10. (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

Anna Kayser, Assistant Sports Editor

There are two ways to come out of the tunnel before a game: hyped or complacent.

Iowa was the latter in its 14-10 loss to Northwestern — its third straight — in which the offense made too many mistakes with the ball.

Northwestern’s offense came out of the locker room looking to drive against an Iowa defense that was beat up on Nov. 3 against Purdue. Iowa’s offense stepped onto the field not looking like it was ready to for the challenge.

Quarterback Nate Stanley looked promising at times, completing three-straight passes for Iowa’s inaugural first down and more. Tight end T.J. Hockenson served as Stanley’s most reliable receiver in the big moments, going downfield three times for two long receptions.

The passing game slowed because of coverage and weather conditions, and Iowa came out of the first half with only 3 points on the board. The running game was also slowed, collecting only 64 total yards.

“It goes back to the way their defense played; they played extremely well,” Stanley said. “They did a lot of different things as far as blitzing to try to keep up guessing on where they were going to come from, which is not something that we expected.”

The defense dominated in the beginning. Most of Northwestern’s yards on the season had come through the air, but thanks to Iowa, it was held to only 41 passing yards leading into halftime.

The second half, however, was a different story. Northwestern went into halftime with 34 rushing yards and ended the game with 184. No part of the Hawkeye defense was prepared to handle the ground game.

“I thought coming into it they were going to be a heavy pass team, but they had some stuff schemed up — some plays that were working for them in the running game,” safety Jake Gervase said. “Overall, I just have to give credit to them. They made the plays they needed to, and that’s why they won the game.”

The game would come down to capitalizing on the opponent’s mistakes.

At the beginning of the second half, an interception by defensive back Geno Stone gave Iowa an edge in Northwestern territory that it was unable to capitalize on. The Wildcats came back through a hole in the Hawkeye defensive line to put up 7-points on a 34-yard run.

Two more opportunities — a big pass play and an interception — showed up for Iowa. On one, Iowa missed a 38-yard field goal. On the other, the offense finally capitalized to retake the lead with another 7 on the board.

“It just gets down to you got to find a way to get things done, and tonight we missed some opportunities,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Second half, we had some opportunities and really only capitalized one time. So that’s a big part of it.”

That wasn’t enough. With a trip to the Big Ten Championship game in mind because of Purdue’s 41-10 loss against Minnesota, Northwestern wrote its own record.

A 32-yard pass and a diving catch by Bennett Skowronek ended in a 14-10 lead for the Wildcats and all the momentum.

Two fumbles by Iowa running backs on consecutive drives clinched the Wildcats’ trip to Indianapolis, and now Iowa has to find a way to move. Forward would be nice.

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