Grading Iowa football’s 33-13 victory over Northwestern

Sports Editor Chloe Peterson graded the Hawkeyes in all three phases following their win over Northwestern at Kinnick Stadium.


Gabby Drees

Iowa punter Tory Taylor sets the ball down for a field goal during a football game between Iowa and Northwestern at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. Iowa defeated Northwestern, 33-13.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Editor

Iowa football took down Northwestern, 33-13, on Saturday afternoon to break a three-game losing streak. The Hawkeyes beat the Wildcats at Kinnick Stadium for the first time since 2014.

At 2-3 in the conference, Iowa is now tied for third in the Big Ten West with Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Nebraska.

Following the game, Daily Iowan Sports Editor Chloe Peterson graded the Hawkeyes’ play in all three phases:

Offense — B

Iowa’s offense played well on Saturday, but it did so against a one-win Northwestern team. Anyone could play well against a team that allows 408 yards per game. The Hawkeyes actually brought the Wildcats’ average down, as Iowa only gained 398 yards of total offense.

But for the first time this season, Iowa didn’t punt until the third quarter. The Hawkeyes scored on all of their possessions in the first half.

Iowa controlled the ball for nearly 20 minutes in the first half. Quarterback Spencer Petras scored his first rushing touchdown of the season on a 1-yard sneak in the first quarter. He threw a 6-yard TD pass to tight end Luke Lachey in the second. The Hawkeyes also tacked on two field goals from kicker Drew Stevens.

In the second half, three of Iowa’s four drives ended in a score. Stevens knocked in two more field goals, and wide receiver Arland Bruce scored his second touchdown of the year via a 23-yard run.

Petras went 21-of-30 for 220 yards — his second-best passing performance of the season.

The Hawkeyes’ victory over the Wildcats was a marked sign of improvement for Iowa’s offense. As for whether or not the showing was a fluke, we’ll have to wait and see.

Defense — A

Iowa’s defense did not hold back on Northwestern’s offensive line on Saturday afternoon.

The Hawkeyes sacked Wildcat quarterback Brendan Sullivan seven separate times — a season-high. Seth Benson, Joe Evans, Lukas Van Ness, Deontae Craig, Ethan Hurkett, Logan Lee, and Noah Shannon recorded one sack each, pushing Northwestern back a combined 54 yards.

Strong safety Kaevon Merriweather recorded the Hawkeyes only forced turnover of the game — an interception as time expired in the first half.

In total, the Hawkeyes held the Wildcat offense to 18 yards on the ground and 0.5 yards per rush. 

Iowa also held Northwestern to 177 total yards and forced six punts.

The Hawkeyes allowed 13 points — marking the sixth time this season that Iowa’s defense has allowed 13 or fewer points in a game. The Wildcats’ second touchdown came in garbage time, when most of the Hawkeyes’ defensive backups were in. 

Iowa’s defense didn’t score a touchdown or a safety in this game, but it did its job. And that’s complementary football.

Special teams — A-

Stevens had a career day on Saturday. The true freshman went 4-of-4 on field goal attempts, including one from 54 yards out — a personal record. His 54-yard conversion was also good for the seventh-longest field goal in Iowa football program history.

Stevens’ boot was the longest the Hawkeyes have made since Marshall Koehn put a ball between the uprights from 57 yards out against Pittsburgh in 2015.

Bruce was aggressive on punt returns, returning four for 40 total yards. 

The special teams unit’s only knock this week is Tory Taylor’s shanked punt for just 12 yards. The miscue gave Northwestern the ball at the Iowa 34-yard line.