If Iowa fans were looking for a key bounce back win at Northwestern, they are going to be dissapointed with this outcome. The Hawkeyes were defeated by Northwestern at all facets of the game; offense, defense, and special teams. Iowa showed fight at the end of the game coming back from a 28-3 deficit, only to have their comeback fall short on an overthrown James Vandenberg pass that landed out of bounds on 4th down.
Lets start with the offensive side of the football. The highly scrutinized passing attack led by Vandenberg was average at best. The senior quarterback played a clean game with no interceptions or fumbles, and also contributed with 2 goal line touchdown runs. He completed 24 of 38 passes for 214 yards, but was unable to find the endzone yet again with no touchdown passes. Vandenberg also took 2 crucial sacks on third down that halted Iowa drives. Kevonte Martin-Manley led the Hawkeyes with 7 receptions for 46 yards. If the Hawkeyes are to take a positive away from this game, its running back Damon Bullock who carried the ball 22 times for 107 yards, and seems to be fully recovered from a concussion suffered against Northern Iowa.
Now to the defensive side of the football that faced a legit dual-threat quarterback for the first time this year. Iowa was confused all game as Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter rushed 26 times for 166 yards, scoring 3 touchdowns in the process. To top it off, Northwestern running back Venric Mark also ran for 162 yards on 16 carries. A play that sums up Iowa’s defensive performance is after they pinned Northwestern at the 1 yard line with a picture perfect punt and coverage. Mark took a handoff and ran 72 yards right up the middle. This led to a Colter touchdown and a 99 yard touchdown drive by the Wildcats. Colter only threw the ball 9 times and completed 6 of those passes for a total of 80 yards and 1 touchdown. A bright spot for the defense was the interception Colter threw to a full-extention diving BJ Lowery, who made a great catch.
The third phase of the game, which has been a strong point for the Hawkeyes, also had a critical mishap. Tyris Jones of the Wildcats bull rushed his way through the middle of the line to block a punt. This allowed Northwestern to start a drive at the 4 yard line, and Colter only needed one play to punch the ball in the endzone. The blocked punt really gave the Wildcats a lot of momentum that carried them all the way throughout the football game.
To top it off, the injury bug who has made the Iowa football team his main target, struck again. Running back Mark Weisman, was injured in the second quarter with what appears to be an injury to the same ankle that he hurt against Michigan State. The Hawkeyes’ number one receiver Keenan Davis was also injured in an incompletion across the middle of the field. Also, their big defensive force of a lineman, Joe Gaglione, was injured in the 3rd quarter. So, arguably Iowa’s best running back, wide receiver, and defensive player were all injured in this game.
Iowa looks to rebound next week with a depleted lineup at Indiana, who has also seen their fair share of struggles this season.