Zach Pereles: Iowa 35, Northwestern 14
Iowa knows how to run the ball. Northwestern can’t stop the run. Iowa will bring pressure. The offensive line and Clayton Thorson can’t hold up under pressure. It will be a long day in Iowa City.
Will Ragatz: Northwestern 23, Iowa 20 (OT)
Somehow, someway, Northwestern is going to find some of its 2015 close game magic and spoil homecoming for the Hawkeyes. The Wildcats will be able to move the ball on offense and win the turnover battle with multiple interceptions of C.J. Beathard. Matt Micucci will force OT, in which Northwestern will hold Iowa to a field goal and walk-off a winner on a Thorson to Carr TD strike.
Zach Wingrove: Iowa 24, Northwestern 7
Iowa hasn’t looked good these past two weeks but I think they will return to form Saturday, and it will be a long day for Northwestern. The Wildcats’ defense had trouble stopping the run and the pass last week, and I don’t see those problems getting fixed against an Iowa team that has consistently been able to run the ball and has an experienced quarterback under center. On the other side of the ball, I think the offense continues to struggle finishing drives and putting points on the board.
Sam Brief: Iowa 24, Northwestern 21
Iowa has struggled recently, and the absence of their best wideout, Matt VandeBerg (broken foot), hurts the Hawkeyes. Also, Kirk Ferentz himself admits that Iowa’s defensive line is weak, but the best medicine for a struggling defensive line is Northwestern’s offensive line. I expect the Wildcats to keep it close, but their offensive woes will continue against a physical Iowa team. I also see Iowa running all over Northwestern. I think it’ll be close, but Iowa will possess the ball about 2x more than Northwestern.
Tristan Jung: Iowa 27, Northwestern 10
Northwestern has been unable to play Iowa whatsoever in the last two years, and I doubt this game will be any different. Even if these two teams are arguably in their worst iterations in some time, Iowa should still win comfortably. Iowa’s problems are minuscule compared to Northwestern’s gaping issues. Some improvements are to be expected for Northwestern, and the first half could be close once again, but I don’t see the success translating for the whole game.
Ian McCafferty: Iowa 37, Northwestern 24
I’ve watched enough of Northwestern this year to see that this team has some serious flaws. Iowa has flaws as well, but they had flaws in 2014 too when they steamrolled Northwestern at Kinnick. We’re going to see more of the same this year. It won’t exactly be a blowout, but it will resemble Saturday’s Nebraska game. Northwestern will lose by a decent amount and never really have control of the game at any point. Iowa is just too strong up front on both sides of the ball for this Northwestern team. It might be fun early, but it won’t be by the time the fourth quarter rolls around.
Rob Schaefer: Iowa 31, Northwestern 13
I can see Northwestern stealing one of the games in this six-game gauntlet (Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State, Indiana, Ohio State, Wisconsin), but this probably isn’t it. Iowa has owned Northwestern in recent past and venturing out of Evanston for the first time this year won’t be an easy adjustment for a reeling Wildcats team. A scenario where Northwestern pulls a win out isn’t inconceivable, but I’ll wait for this team to show me something more than a sloppy win over a pretty bad Duke team to pick them with any level of confidence. Iowa wins big.
Josh Rosenblat: Iowa 23, Northwestern 21
Northwestern’s bend-but-don’t-totally-break-but-actually-kind-of-break defense shows up in all of its flexible glory, holding Iowa to three field goals and keeping the game close. This could very well be the Wildcats’ most complete game of the year. Clayton Thorson, I believe, gained confidence after a largely efficient performance against Nebraska and will continue to grow as a passer. The one thing holding Northwestern back: the offensive line. I hope offensive coordinator Mick McCall recognizes that issue and calls intentional rollouts for Thorson to utilize his ability to throw on the run and relieve the line of some pressure.
Caleb Friedman: Iowa 30, Northwestern 17
This is a winnable game for Northwestern. Though Iowa returns many of its playmakers from last season, the Hawkeyes are far from the team that went undefeated in last year’s regular season. The Wildcats have good looked for stretches of games, but there’s a reason they haven’t been able to put a rock-solid 60 minutes together: they’re inconsistent. I have no reason to believe this narrative will change Saturday in a hostile environment against a good team. Like the Nebraska game, superior talent will win out in the second half.