Week 10 scouting notebook | No. 22 Iowa vs. Northwestern

Saturday’s contest will be another opportunity for the Hawkeyes to win at the line of scrimmage.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa running back Tyler Goodson finds space to run during a football game between No. 9 Iowa and Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. The Badgers held Goodson to 27 yards on 13 carries. The Badgers defeated the Hawkeyes 27-7.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

The No. 22 Iowa football team will travel to Ryan Field in Evanston to take on 3-5 Northwestern on Saturday night.

The Hawkeyes and Wildcats have each depended on their running backs for a lot of production so far this season, so tomorrow’s contest could be decided in the trenches.

Below is the DI’s full scouting report for the game.

Marquee Matchup — Iowa’s defensive line against Northwestern’s offensive line 

Northwestern’s offense — both literally and figuratively —  runs through sophomore running back Evan Hull. So If Iowa’s defensive line can get off of blocks and tackle Hull behind the line of scrimmage or for minimal gains, it will be tough for the Wildcats to move the ball.

Northwestern has averaged 158 yards per game on the ground this season, compared to 181 yards passing.

In Big Ten play, Northwestern has averaged under 90 yards on the ground per game, including just 37 rushing yards against Nebraska in early October. Last week against Minnesota, however, the Wildcats ran for their highest total of the Big Ten season, totaling 143 yards in a 41-14 loss. Of those yards, 107 came from Hull, who averaged over seven yards per carry. Hull has five touchdowns in eights games and has 750 yards on the ground this year, the fourth most in the Big Ten. Northwestern has attempted more rushes than passes in every game this season.

“Obviously they have a good back,” Iowa sophomore linebacker Jestin Jacobs said of Hull Tuesday. “Definitely a competitor, he definitely popped out on film and made a few plays. We definitely have to work battling him this week.”

Getting to know Northwestern

The Daily Iowan interviewed The Daily Northwestern’s Gameday Editor Drew Schott to learn more about Northwestern.

The Daily Iowan: Obviously it’s been kind of a down year for Northwestern. What would you say is not quite clicking this season?

RELATED: Iowa football notebook: Hawkeyes look to get rushing attack going

Schott: I think last season what was so strong about this team was the experience and the veteran leadership that this team had. And this team still maintains veteran leadership but returning the least amount of experience in the Power Five [conferences], I think it was around 39 percent, is playing a role. You’re seeing a lot of players step up into new roles and you’re starting to see some success on that front. I mean,  you’re breaking in a new defensive coordinator after Mike Hankwitz retired. I think quarterback consistency from the beginning of the season was a little,  I mean going from Hunter [Johnson] and then to Andrew [Marty] and then to Ryan [Hilinski] one game and then Ryan [Hilinski] for the past few now back to Andrew [Marty], that’s still a question that has to be answered. The run defense, which has usually been a strong part of the defense,  has really struggled. Last week they gave up 308 yards to Minnesota and the season opener, gave up 264 to Kenneth Walker, who’s probably the Hiesman front-runner for Michigan State. So those are a few things when you look closely.

DI: Looking more towards the offense, with the quarterback kind of controversy and really not getting that answered, it seems like Evan Hull is the brunt of the offensive production. What makes him so hard to bring down?

Schott: He’s really quick and he’s shifty. What Hull’s best at is finding space outside the hash marks and being able to make plays. If you look at that 75-yard touchdown run against Michigan, you’ll see he takes an inside handoff, breaks to the left and runs untouched for a 75-yard touchdown. That really epitomizes what Hull can do. In that same game, he caught a screen pass and he took it around 20 to 30 yards. If you give Evan Hull a chance to make plays in space, he’s going to make plays. If you look at the Minnesota game, he had a 30-yard run he also caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Marty on a screen pass. So that’s what Hull  is best at. If you look at the screen passes, they’re kind of on the side of the line of scrimmage. If you look at his outside runs, that’s where Evan Hull is best.

DI: Yeah, and then I guess I’ll end this interview with a score prediction from you.

Schott: I think it’s gonna be closer than what people expect. I mean, when you look at Iowa vs. Northwestern, last year Iowa got out to a 17-0 lead, they ended up falling 21-20. The year before, Iowa wins 20-0. The year before that, Northwestern wins 14-10 to clinch the Big Ten West title. So some games are closer than others  but I don’t know, with Iowa’s recent struggles having dropped the past two games, I feel like this could be a wake-up-call game for Kirk Ferentz and his team in that if they drop this game, it virtually puts them out of contention for a spot in the Big Ten Championship and the Big Ten West title. I do think Northwestern is going to put up some points against this Iowa defense. They’ve given up an average of 25.5 over the past two games but I do think the Hawkeyes are going to come away with the win. I say Iowa 27, Northwestern 13.

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