Only one writer picked Iowa this week, but don't worry NU fans, he also picked Northwestern to shut out Indiana. Expert? Please.
Kevin Trahan, Inside Northwestern: Northwestern 21, Iowa 17 — People seem pretty confident that Northwestern will beat Iowa, even though the Hawkeyes certainly have the capability to pull off the upset. This won’t be the day the Widlcats’ offense explodes, as Iowa has one of the best linebacker corps in the conference, which will help the Hawkeyes defend the zone read. However, some new starters on the offensive line and a terrible passing attack — yes, it will be terrible even against this secondary — will hinder the Iowa offense and NU will score just enough to win.
Chris Johnson, Inside Northwestern: Northwestern 23, Iowa 20 — I’m going to make a bold prediction that has practically zero chance of actually coming true. Alas, here goes: Kain Colter’s comments this week about not having an offensive identity will flip a switch for Mick McCall and, after weeks upon weeks of maddening quarterback switches, prompt a larger and more continuous role for Colter. Even more crazy, Colter will throw the ball...more than 10 times. That last part is extremely unlikely, but if it hasn’t been made clear by this chaotic rant, the ‘Cats’ qb situation has taken its toll on the football part of my brain. Anyways, err, through it all, NU -- whether or not McCall fulfills my prediction -- will take advantage of an Iowa team that, much like the NU, is desperately searching for answers on offense. ‘Cats wins, but it’ll be ugly.
Jonah Rosenblum, Inside Northwestern: Northwestern 24, Iowa 17 — I trust Northwestern not to lose two games in a row. The funny thing is if the Wildcats hold off the Cornhuskers, then Saturday turns into a trap game. Now, it’s essentially a must win. I think Northwestern’s front four is able to control Mark Weisman and I think the Wildcats get Kain Colter going just enough to earn a narrow victory. After a heartbreaking miss last week, a Jeff Budzien 48-yard field goal proves critical this week.
Phil Rossman-Reich, Lake the Posts: Northwestern 24, Iowa 21 — Jeff Budzien gets his redemption! OK, maybe it won’t come down to exactly that, but knowing the way these two teams play against each some Wiz-gerald-ry seems in order for this rivalry game. Northwestern is going to be focused on fixing the problems on offense and comes out with a much more manageable game plan in this one. NU does a good job against Weisman and good enough against the pass to go to the bye with a win.
Danny Moran, NBN Sports: Northwestern 20, Iowa 17 — The Wildcats are haven’t put together a complete game in weeks but picked the right week to draw Iowa. With a pair of banged up cornerbacks, the defense will take on James Vandenberg, who cannot run and has 3 touchdown passes this season. The Wildcats will give up plenty of yards but keep the score low. Assuming Northwestern attempts to establish Kain Colter as a passing threat, they will generate just enough offense to move to 7-2 heading into their bye week.
Chris Emma, PurpleWildcats.com: Northwestern 23, Iowa 20 — If you like really well-played football, you may want to find a different game to watch. Pat Fitzgerald continues to state that his team just needs to find a way to win. That is extremely important on Saturday. Both the Wildcats and Hawkeyes will be fired up, but both are limping into Ryan Field. NU is the better team and will squeak out a victory over the Hawkeyes.
Nick Medline, PurpleWildcats.com: Iowa 28, Northwestern 24 – Everyone seems angry with me when I pick against Northwestern, but I can’t lie. It appears as though Demetrius Dugar and Daniel Jones will start at corner for NU. This is hardly a recipe for success. Vandenberg has long been overdue for a solid performance and Weisman can pound the ball even behind a banged-up offensive line. If, and only if, Kain Colter takes the majority of snaps under center, the Wildcats will move the ball with enough success to win. But I anticipate that the Trevor Siemian experiment continues to flounder on Saturday.
Jon Davis, Northwestern Highlights: Northwestern 27, Iowa 17 — The Wildcat offense takes a step forward in this contest with a resurfaced short passing game and success moving the chains. They may not get the big plays on which they’ve relied in the last few games, but they’ll look more like the Northwestern offense we expected. The defense will have a pretty decent game against the run, giving up some yards but with a solid ypc average. The Iowa offensive line won’t be able to spring their backs for any big runs and NU will force Iowa into unsuccessful third down conversion attempts thanks in part to pressure from the defensive line. They’ll get some decent chunks through the air at times, but the D will keep the ball in front of them and get the job done.
Jonathan Hodges, Hail To Purple: Northwestern 17, Iowa 10 — For the first time this season, I'm going to against my preseason prediction and take the 'Cats in this one thanks to NU living up to or exceeding preseason expectations and Iowa sputtering, particularly on offense. Expect a low scoring game thanks to a solid Iowa defense versus a sputtering NU offense and a bad Iowa offense facing off an NU defense that has strength up front. But with some playmakers in Colter and Mark, NU will find a way to put points on the board, while Iowa's production will be limited to when they have enough time to get off a long pass. Otherwise, the NU defense will come through by containing the run and generating pressure on the QB, while the offense will churn out yards on the ground to pull off a homecoming win before heading into the bye.
Callie Counsellor, Inside Northwestern: Northwestern 24, Iowa 14 — I’ll choose to believe (yet again) that Northwestern will finally find its offensive rhythm from the beginning of the season. NU’s secondary will get a reprieve in the form of QB James Vandenberg and Iowa’s woeful passing offense, and the Wildcats will bounce back from the devastating loss to the Cornhuskers with a much-needed confidence boost heading into the home stretch.