It’s time to kick off the second half of the season with what should be an entertaining Northwestern-Iowa matchup at Ryan Field. The Wildcats and Hawkeyes both got their first Big Ten win of the season last week after each starting 0-2 against a combination of Penn State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State. Both teams feature talented, experienced running backs and solid defenses, so the game might come down to which quarterback can make more plays. For the first time this year, our pickers’ records are listed, so you know who to trust. As always, make your prediction in the comments!
Will Ragatz: Iowa 28, Northwestern 24
I want to pick Northwestern, I really do. I want to believe that the ground game is back and that the defense will remain solid. Most of all, I want my way-too-long tweet to come true (psst: Hit that follow button).
Hear me out. Northwestern takes down Iowa and MSU, then cruises through the last four games to finish 7-2 in the B1G. Wisconsin, after 5-0 start in conference, collapses - losses @ IU, vs. Iowa, vs. Michigan. NU wins the West and beats PSU/OSU in Indy. Big Ten champs. NY6 bowl.— Will Ragatz (@WillRagatz) October 18, 2017
With all that said, I just can’t bring myself to do it. I think I’m still scarred from what happened last time Akrum Wadley and Iowa visited Ryan Field. I’m worried about Clayton Thorson, who has thrown 6 interceptions in three Big Ten games, going up against a team that’s second in the conference with 8 picks. And I’m definitely still skeptical about the offensive line. This game should be fun and close, but I’ll take the Hawkeyes to get it done in the second half.
Caleb Friedman: Iowa 24, Northwestern 17
Iowa's defense is going to make it tough for Justin Jackson to run like he did last week, and the offensive line will then have to protect on many obvious passing downs, which is worrisome. On defense, Northwestern will play pretty well against Akrum Wadley & Co., but it won't be enough for a mistake-prone offense to overcome. The Hawkeyes win a defensive battle.
Tristan Jung: Northwestern 12, Iowa 6
In the most Big Ten game of the year, Northwestern uses a safety and a bevy of turnovers to win a defensive struggle. It’ll be boring. It’ll be ugly. Some might even call it unwatchable. But Northwestern will prevail, somehow, because Iowa has already been out-Iowa’d by Penn State and Michigan State this season. Iowa’s just not the same anymore. You’ll see, soon they’ll start taking fourth down risks, throwing the ball deep, and running the abomination known as the run-pass option. Look, they’re already doing it! I am angrily shaking my fist at the sky.
Noah Coffman: Iowa 27, Northwestern 20
The Wildcats just don’t match up well with the 2017 version of the Hawkeyes. Northwestern’s two biggest weaknesses on the field so far have been their offensive line and their pass coverage, and Io_a is primed to take advantage of both of them with a strong front 7 and a shockingly efficient passing attack. The Hawkeyes, unfortunately, will earn their w back.
Davis Rich: Iowa 20, Northwestern 16
I’m with Tristan here — this one could be ugly. Northwestern’s offense will need to mitigate mistakes against an Iowa defense that will bend, but is among the top teams in the nation once they are backed up inside their own 40-yard-line. It could be a big day for reigning Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week Charlie Kuhbander. Defensively, Northwestern should hold its own against Akrum Wadley, but the efficiency of Iowa’s passing offense worries me. A turnover or two would go a long way towards a Wildcat victory.
Martin Oppegaard: Northwestern 23, Iowa 20
My record is eerily similar to Northwestern's this season. That said, I really do think the Wildcats will turn their season around. That starts on Saturday when the Wildcats slow down ballyhooed running back Akrum Wadley, and thus the Iowa offense. Freshman Charlie Kuhbander's game-winner gives Northwestern its first impressive win of the season, as well as some much needed momentum for a Week 9 bout with Michigan State.
Talia Hendel: Iowa 24, Northwestern 17
For Northwestern to come out with a win, the defense will have to be incredibly disciplined and limit Akrum Wadley’s opportunities in the backfield. Even if Wadley isn’t able to cut through the defense, I don’t know that NU’s offense will be able to do so on the other end. If Justin Jackson doesn’t have a 100+ yard game, I think the Hawkeyes will take this one.
Caleb Friedman 6-0
Will Ragatz 5-1
Talia Hendel 5-1
Tristan Jung 4-2
Martin Oppegaard 3-3
Missed at least one week
Noah Coffman 4-1
Davis Rich 3-2
Ian McCafferty 2-1
Zach Pereles 1-1
Josh Burton 1-2