We're split on this week's picks for what should be a close game.
Iowa wins if it can get some big plays, and I don't think that's out of the picture, but Northwestern's offense will be as efficient as it's been all season and barely come out with the win. It will basically be the Minnesota game, but NU will play better.
Northwestern 24, Iowa 20
This is going to be an ugly game between two boring teams that can't score. Iowa edged Northwestern in overtime at Kinnick a year ago. This year, the Hawkeyes win in regulation, but it'll be close. I don't expect either team to have much success offensively, but the Hawkeyes will make a few plays late to hold on for the win.
Iowa 17, Northwestern 13
To echo everything anyone has written about this game, the two offenses aren't very good and scoring could be at a premium. Getting Solomon Vault healthy during the bye week should be big for Northwestern as he provides a nice, speedy complement to Justin Jackson. Expect the two of them to carry Northwestern in this one.
Northwestern 23, Iowa 21
In past seasons, Northwestern's defense has generally struggled against powerful rushing attacks. NU's undersized defensive fronts were outmatched by bigger and more athletic offensive lines. But this might be the first year that, consistently, that is no longer the case. I expect Northwestern's defense to dominate this game, just as it did the Penn State game, and I could actually see the Wildcats winning by more than a touchdown.
Northwestern 24, Iowa 13
Fitz said Trevor Siemian is healthier than he's been all season. That showed at practice Wednesday--Siemian looked really sharp coming off a much-needed bye week. The senior signal caller will play his best game of the season, finding Tony Jones for a pair of scores, and Justin Jackson will punch in a touchdown of his own. The NU defense will hold off the Hawkeyes on the final drive of the game, sealing a victory for the road team and silencing Kinnick at the same time.
Northwestern 24, Iowa 20
The status quo isn't going to change Saturday. It's going to be another defensive struggle with little scoring. The winner will be whoever creates some big plays. Minnesota did it against Northwestern several weeks ago in the Twin Cities. I think Iowa is able to do the same at home while the ‘Cats sputter again on offense. Hawkeyes win a close one.
Iowa 20, Northwestern 17
These two teams are so bad on offense it's going to be great, a comedy of errors so to speak. It really boils down to who is going to be the "Sultan of Suck" on offense, which I think Iowa gets dubbed thee. I think NU pulls off the upset in Iowa City, but I don't think it'll ever "feel" close, why you may ask?? Because I hate Iowa. I think Justin Jackson has a breakout performance and Siemian looks more polished off of a weeks rest than his Iowa counterpart(s). NU's D shows up with one of their best performances to date and only allows 6 points and I can write an article again (I think I'm going to only write when we win, its been a long season).
Northwestern 27 Iowa 13
These are both average teams with very bad offenses and good defenses. They're inefficient, terrible (Iowa) to atrocious (NU) at hitting big plays, can't kick, and can't punt. NU has relied more on a top turnover margin to win or stay in games. Iowa has been a bit above average in turnovers, but nothing special. Both teams are coming off an extra week of rest. With Siemian's injury, Campbell returning from a hamstring strain that has kept him from really contributing since week two, and the slew of more recent injuries, the off week may have benefited Northwestern more. And while both teams had a linebacker suspended following an alcohol-related arrest this past week, Iowa's loss will be more costly. Iowa has home-field advantage, though I would imagine that the 11 AM kickoff time and bitter cold (35 and sunny at kickoff) will negate some of that early on. This is a toss-up game that should be close and low scoring, but I wouldn't be surprised if either offense lays a complete egg and it ends in a three possession margin. As bad as they have been in special teams, this game will probably come down to kicking and punting.
Iowa 17, Northwestern 14
Last year, these teams finished regulation tied at 10; there's every reason to expect the same sort of game. I'll make the bold prediction that it ends before overtime this year.
Iowa 20, Northwestern 14
As I was standing in Ryan Field two weeks ago, tears streaming down my face after the clock hit 0:00 and Nebraska fans around me celebrated, my wife turned to me and said, "Buck up. I don't care what our record is, our Wildcats are the best team in the country that's had its All-American running back transfer right before the season, lost its best wide receiver and defensive tackle to injuries in training camp, has to wear ugly Under Armor alternate uniforms every year, had to adjust to a new Jumbotron that makes replays of their mistakes much more visible to everybody in the stadium, can't yet unionize, didn't have anybody nominated to the Homecoming court, and has a men's basketball program that has never made the NCAA Tournament."
And she's right. Beauty AND brains, fellas.
Northwestern 34, Iowa 17