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Rapid Reaction: Iowa 17, Northwestern 10 (OT)

What happened:

Opening the game with an up-tempo, no-huddle offense, Iowa marched down the field for a touchdown. On their first drive, Iowa set the tone early, racking up 65 rushing yards between running backs Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock—who scored the touchdown—and quarterback Jake Rudock. Iowa only completed one pass on the drive: a nine-yard play-action pass from Rudock to Weisman on the first play. Northwestern defensive end Dean Lowry sustained a lower-body injury on the drive and was initially listed as doubtful to return, then was downgraded to out.

Led by Kain Colter—and his heavily taped right ankle—Northwestern’s attempt to counter faltered as they went three-and-out on their opening drive.

Following a stop on Iowa’s second drive, Northwestern was pinned at it’s own one-yard line. Northwestern was able to gain a little momentum with running backs Stephen Buckley and Mike Trumpy after picking up a couple first downs before an incomplete pass to Tony Jones forced Northwestern to punt.

On Iowa’s first drive of the second quarter, Rudock had a man open in the end zone but over-threw him, leading to a 38-yard field goal to go up 10-0. Rudock completed a couple passes in front of the Northwestern cornerbacks Nick VanHoose and Matt Harris for first downs on the drive.

Northwestern’s best drive of the first half came later in the second quarter. With Colter on the field again, Northwestern picked up a few first downs and entered Iowa territory. On first down, Trumpy ran up the middle and fumbled. Iowa recovered and took over on its own 30 yard-line.

The first half ended with Iowa up 10-0. Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian and running back Treyvon Green did not see any action in the first two quarters. Iowa finished the half with 108 rushing yards to Northwestern’s 98 and also finished with more passing yards and time of possession.

With just under five minutes left in the third quarter, Colter found a wide-open Dan Vitale for a 10-yard touchdown. That play capped an eight play, 81-yard drive on which Colter also found Vitale for a 31-yard reception. The touchdown was Vitale’s second of the season, his first since week two.

On Northwestern’s next drive, Colter sprinted toward the first-down marker on Northwestern’s sideline. He dove awkwardly, injuring himself on the play. Siemian replaced Colter, but the drive stalled and Northwestern settled for a 29-yard field goal to tie the game at 10 with about nine minutes left in the game. Colter would later return.

Iowa then missed a 42-yard field goal on its next drive. Northwestern took over with good field position and was threatening inside Iowa territory. On an option play, Colter pitched the ball to Trumpy, who mishandled it. Iowa then recovered the fumble.

Iowa, then, took the ball to inside the Northwestern 35 with under a minute to go. The Hawkeyes were then forced into a fourth down with 15 seconds left. Under duress, Iowa’s Rudock threw the ball over the middle where linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo intercepted it, forcing the game into overtime.

In overtime, Northwestern forced Iowa into a third and goal, bringing a well-timed blitz. The defense got to Rudock as he was throwing, but he was able to float the ball to tight end CJ Fiedorowicz for the go-ahead touchdown. With Iowa up 17-10, Northwestern took over and was unable to get anything going. On fourth down, Colter tried to scramble and was stopped short of the first down, ending the game with Iowa ahead 17-10.

What went well:

For some reason, Northwestern’s offense got away from using superback Dan Vitale after a huge game against Cal in the opener. Over the next six games, Vitale averaged just 2.67 catches and 19.5 yards per game. Against Western Michigan and Maine, Vitale totaled a combined two catches for five yards. Today, Northwestern looked to utilize Vitale against Iowa in both the run and the pass game. Along with a 31-yard reception, Vitale also had an 18-yard run on a sweep.

What went poorly:

Northwestern’s offense struggled with discipline all game. They committed five penalties for 55 yards on the day. There were a plethora of protection breakdowns, resulting in six sacks for Iowa. Colter was often forced to escape the pocket and did well in masking some of the offensive line’s problems. Trumpy also fumbled twice when Northwestern was driving in Iowa territory, killing both potential scoring drives.