IOWA CITY, Ia. -- The Wildcats traveled to Iowa looking to snap a three-game losing streak. After one half, they trail the Hawkeyes 10-0.
-- There was little doubt Iowa, a team with considerable size and strength advantages along the line of scrimmage, would use a run-heavy gameplan to grind Northwestern’s defensive line. That worked perfectly on Iowa’s first drive, a 14-play series that included 12 rushes and ended with a three-yard touchdown plunge from running back Damon Bullock. The drive offered evidence of everything Northwestern fans feared entering the game: that their favorite team would not be able to stop the run.
-- The Hawkeyes continued to run the ball against Northwestern’s largely ineffective defensive line, and finished the half with 108 yards on 4.2 yards per carry. The Wildcats did appear to make adjustments against Iowa’s run game later in the half; by the end of the second quarter, the Hawkeyes weren’t mauling Northwestern’s defensive linemen anymore. There was improvement, but it remains unclear whether the Wildcats – who got defensive tackle Sean McEvilly back after a long absence due to injury, but lost defensive end Dean Lowry to an injury in the first quarter – will be able to stifle Iowa’s run game the rest of the game. The second half of the Ohio State game suggested otherwise.
-- Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock made a few nice throws to the boundary, including two to receiver Tevaun Smith on the same drive that appeared to be the same exact play. Northwestern’s cornerbacks are giving Iowa’s receivers plenty of room in coverage, and Rudock took advantage of that on several occasions.
-- The return of quarterback Kain Colter, who missed last week’s game against Minnesota with an injury, was widely viewed as the spark that would snap Northwestern’s offense out of its recent malaise. Through two quarters, the dynamic dual-threat QB has not made a big difference, at least not on the scoreboard – Northwestern scored zero points in the first half. On the one promising drive Northwestern strung together in the second quarter, a nine-play series that began at its own 25 yard line, running back Mike Trumpy fumbled at Iowa’s 34-yard line and the Hawkeyes took over.
-- Junior quarterback Trevor Siemian, who committed three turnovers and completed just 25-of-46 passes in last week’s lost to Minnesota, did not play in the first half.
-- If Northwestern can get something, anything, going on offense, it has every reason to think it can win this game. Iowa was blowing Northwestern’s defensive linemen off the line earlier in the game, but the strides made over the course over the half were promising signs; Iowa’s offense works best when its power run game is working. If the Wildcats can shut it down, or even contain it, they should be able to make up a 10-point deficit.