For the first time in 2015, No. 20 Northwestern (5-1 overall, 1-1 Big Ten) looked just plain awful in its 38-0 loss at Michigan in Week 6. The offense couldn't move the ball, which isn't completely out of the ordinary. The vaunted Wildcat defense couldn't stop Michigan at all, which was a bit of a surprise. And the special teams, which had been solid for Northwestern up to that point in 2015, was awful from the start.
But the Wildcats find themselves just one game out of first place in the Big Ten West division as first-place and No. 17 Iowa (7-0, 2-0) visit Evanston. With a win, Northwestern would take over the top spot in the division with a head-to-head win over the Hawkeyes.
Iowa is led by quarterback C.J. Beathard, a mobile passer with a strong arm. Beathard, though, is hobbled by a groin injury, making his mobility less of a factor. Combined with injuries to both of Iowa's regular starting tackles, Northwestern's defensive line could be able to get back on track after a poor performance against the Wolverines.
The Hawkeye defense, though, is aggressive against the pass. Defensive back Desmond King leads the nation with five interceptions on the season. Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson will have to be careful with the ball as he has gotten away with a bunch of dangerous throws safely hitting the ground throws in recent weeks.
- Want to know more about the Hawkeyes from the source? Check our opponent links.
- Northwestern will be short some key players on both sides of the ball against Iowa.
- Zach Wingrove analyzes what factors could lead to either a Northwestern win or loss on Saturday.
- What should you watch for on Saturday? Here are the three biggest matchups.
- Zach Pereles tries to find out if the Hawkeyes are really that good in "Three things to know."
- Former Northwestern linebacker Nate Williams re-watched the Wildcats' loss to Michigan and was disappointed in the linebackers' play.
- Kevin Trahan calls for change in the offensive coach as Northwestern has become way too predictable.
Kickoff time: 11:00 a.m. CT
TV: ABC/ESPN 2