Week 9 scouting report: Northwestern

Northwestern poses underdog challenges for Iowa despite being 1-5 on the season.


Katina Zentz

Willy the Wildcat cheers after a Northwestern touchdown 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, Sports Editor

After beating Purdue last week and Illinois showing up to beat Wisconsin, Iowa looks to continue its bid for a Big Ten West title Saturday against Northwestern.

Looking at this year’s Wildcat team, it’d be hard to believe that just a year ago it won the West. Northwestern is 1-5 on the season with conference losses to Michigan State, then-No. 8 Wisconsin, Nebraska, and most recently then-No. 4 Ohio State.

Just one year ago, Northwestern came into Kinnick and beat the Hawkeyes 14-10 to extend its win streak against the Hawkeyes to three seasons.

The last time Iowa beat Northwestern was during its undefeated 2015 regular season, when it traveled to Evanston and took down then-No. 20 Northwestern, 40-10.

12.5 points per game vs. 25.2 points per game allowed

The Wildcats have been outscored by their opponents 151-75 this season despite being close with opponents in first downs, rushing yards, and total time of possession.

They’ve scored over 10 points only twice — in their 30-14 win over UNLV and in a 24-15 loss to Wisconsin.

On Oct. 18, Ohio State downed Northwestern 52-3.

The Wildcats lead their opponents with 111 first downs compared to 105 and have moved the chains on penalties 18 times.The majority of Northwestern’s yards come from the running game, comparing 919 yards total to opponents’ 993, along with six touchdowns compared to seven allowed.

Drake Anderson leads the team with 418 yards on 87 attempts and averages 4.7 yards per carry, making him a threat for Iowa’s defensive line. Following him is Isaiah Bowser, who has 175 yards on 45 attempts despite posting a solid year in 2018.

47 percent passing completion

While the Wildcats can keep up in the running game, the passing game isn’t in their wheelhouse.

Four quarterbacks have combined for a 47 percent completion percentage, 10 interceptions, and just two touchdowns.

Hunter Johnson and Aidan Smith have both appeared in four games, throwing a combined nine interceptions.

Three interceptions came against Michigan State, which it ran back for 21 yards. Against Wisconsin, Smith threw an interception that was returned for 68 yards and six points.


The Wildcats have yet to break 200 passing yards in a game, with the high coming in Northwestern’s lone win against UNLV in which it put up 165 passing yards and one passing touchdown.

Northwestern receivers average just 4.07 yards per catch with Riley Lees leading the pack. He has 22 receptions for an average of 7.18 yards per catch.

J.J. Jefferson owns the season-long reception of 50 yards against UNLV and caught both of the passing touchdowns.

12 sacks for a loss of 44 yards

Northwestern’s defensive line doesn’t sack too many quarterbacks, collecting just 12 on the season for an average of 3.67 yards per sack.

On the flip side, opponents have taken down Northwestern quarterbacks 13 times for an average of 8.54 yards per sack.

Wisconsin dealt the Wildcats the most sacks in a game this season, taking them down five times for a loss of 49 yards.


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