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Game Preview: Iowa vs. Northwestern

Posted By Debbie Baratz On Oct 13 2011 @ 12:15 pm In Iowa | No Comments

After last Saturday’s disappointing loss, the Hawkeyes will host Northwestern on Saturday. Game time is 6 p.m. and it will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

While many believe Iowa is Penn State’s nemesis, Northwestern is Iowa’s. With a 1-4 record against the Wildcats (three consecutive Northwestern wins), the Hawkeyes will look to break this streak.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said about the recent string of losses [1]:

“To me, it’s real simple,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentzsaid. “They played better all three games. That’s where it’s at. Slice it, dice it, injuries, that’s part of the game.”

Let’s look at this week’s game.

Defense

Last year, Northwestern’s offense proved to be too much for Iowa’s defense and with 1:22 remaining, quarterback Dan Persa’s touchdown pass put the nail in the coffin for a 22-17 win.

Iowa’s defense is less talented this year and while they held Penn State to six points until the final quarter, they finally wore down. They are still trying to come together while leaders James Morris and Micah Hyde can do so much.

Stepping up turnovers could be a step in the right direction.

This week, third down conversions will be key. In their last three meetings, Northwestern converted 27 of 53 third-down opportunities [2] while Iowa has gone 9-of-37. However this season, Northwestern ranks last in the conference for third-down conversions [2].

Northwestern brings a weak secondary but a talented safety, Brian Peters and linebacker Bryce McNaul.

Advantage: Draw

Offense 

Iowa’s offense has an identity problem. While quarterback James Vandenberg is clutch with a strong arm, his talent didn’t travel to Happy Valley; in the fourth quarter, he lost his head. Iowa’s talented wide receiving trio didn’t do much either and sole running back Marcus Coker does what he can for the running game.

Vandenberg will look for redemption on two fronts: his 2009 performance [1] (an interception on his first throw and 9 of 27 for 82 yards) and last week’s fourth quarter train wreck.

Northwestern has Persa and after his season-ending injury against Iowa, he is slowly making his way back; however, the team has two losses with him at the helm. He gets in the heads of Iowa’s defense and always finds a way to win against the black and gold.

Wildcat running back Mike Trumpy has 35 attempts for 182 yards. The team’s second leading rusher is backup quarterback Kain Colter, who may not play on Saturday. Northwestern’s wide receiver Jeremy Ebert has 26 receptions for 324 yards.

Advantage: Northwestern has Persa, but Iowa has more offensive weapons.

Special Teams

Iowa’s kicker Mike Meyer and punter Eric Guthrie have played well with Meyer at the top of the conference for points. The Wildcats have punter Brandon Williams and kicker Jeff Budzien, who is two for four with a long of 43 yards.

Advantage: Iowa 

Winner: Northwestern has lost three in a row but they will come to Kinnick Stadium with confidence and a great quarterback looking for a win. Iowa will seek to break their losing streak and gain a Big Ten win.

Revenge is a powerful motivator: Iowa by seven.

 

 

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URLs in this post:

[1] recent string of losses: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-ap-fbc-iowa-northwester,0,2211411.story

[2] converted 27 of 53 third-down opportunities: http://thegazette.com/2011/10/11/iowa-notes-stopping-northwestern-on-third-down-pivotal-for-hawkeyes/

[3] Subscribe to author's RSS feed: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/author/dbaratz/feed/

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