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Northwestern vs. Iowa: gameday study guide

IOWA CITY, Ia. -- On Saturday, we should learn whether the last three losses (against Ohio State, Wisconsin and Minnesota) happened because Northwestern simply isn’t very good, or whether they were flukes – a mirages, a hiccups, a downward trend the Wildcats can course-correct during the second half of the season. The loss to the Gophers is the only truly shocking result (I’ll concede that the score of the Wisconsin game, 35-6, was a bit unexpected), and if Northwestern finishes the season on a strong note, then it will remain that way. Minnesota would be the one puzzling gaffe on an otherwise respectable 2013 campaign, and we’d all be able to look back and say, “Woah, how did NU lost to Minny at home?”

But if the Wildcats fall at Iowa, another putatively middling Big Ten outfit, then it will be hard to argue that Northwestern is anything better than what its record implies: four losses against the only four decent teams it played so far. A win over Iowa isn’t going to force anyone to completely gloss over what they’ve seen from Northwestern the past two weeks, but it would mark a positive step forward. There are more difficult challenges (Nebraska, the Michigan schools) ahead, and winning a tough game at Kinnick Stadium might provide the momentum boost the Wildcats need to have success during the most important stretch of their schedule.

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Picking this game may have seemed like a no-brainer a few weeks back. Now? Not so much.

After a mostly clean health bill in 2012, Northwestern has endured big problems on the injury front this season.

Practice and press conference notes from the week: Monday press conference notes, Tuesday practice notes, Wednesday practice notes, Tuesday Big Ten teleconference notes.

There was one big surprise on the injury report this week.

Reading this week’s depth chart notes might do nothing more than confuse you.

Quick: name Jimmy Hall’s position. If you don’t know, that’s fine. He’s bounced around quite a bit since arriving at NU.

With Venric Mark sitting out this week, could redshirt freshman Stephen Buckley be in line for a breakout game?

We know Vegas likes the Hawkeyes by four, but the bookmakers have no opinion which team has the edge in each phase. We do.

If you’re limited on time, we boiled down all the important NU-Iowa reading you need to do into three “big things.

Our weekly video preview with Northwestern News Network features Insidenu writer Josh Rosenblat.

We found the best Iowa football reading material on the web and linked to all of it on one post. You’re welcome.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see either team win this game. In case you’re still undecided on a pick, we offer arguments for why Northwestern and Iowa could win.