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Three things to know about Iowa

It doesn’t look like they’re better than last year.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 27 Holiday Bowl - USC v Iowa Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Northwestern heads to Iowa City to face a familiar Big Ten West foe in the Hawkeyes. The consistently solid Iowa program faltered in Week 1 against Purdue leading to their first 0-1 start in the last six years. That being said, despite a fan-less atmosphere at Kinnick, this week the Hawkeyes will be out for blood.

Spencer Petras looked inconsistent

Redshirt sophomore Spencer Petras locked in his first start for the Hawkeyes on Saturday. The quarterback was up-and down in his debut — throwing for 265 yards total. He led the offense to 17 points in the second quarter with a near perfect completion percentage and then proceeded to go 5-for-15 in his next set of pass attempts. Down three to Purdue in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter, Petras had a chance to redeem himself and lead Iowa to victory. However, despite decent protection in the pocket, he had little success connecting with offensive weapons Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Tyler Goodson on the final drive.

The Hawkeyes fell to Purdue 24-20, leaving fans of the black and gold with a bitter taste in their mouths looking ahead to the rest of the Big Ten season. If Petras plays like he did early on Saturday’s matchup, the ‘Cats may have a tough go on their hands. But, if he plays like he did in the second half against Purdue, we could witness a 2-0 start for Northwestern.

Self inflicted wounds could hurt the Hawkeyes

Iowa is a talented team — the offense produced 460 yards from scrimmage but only 20 points. Needless to say, the Hawkeyes really shot themselves in the foot this past weekend. Several offensive hiccups, a few coaching errors and defensive mismatches were their downfall. Brian Ferentz’s offense could have scored plenty more points, that is, if they hadn’t racked up two fumbles, four false starts and five failed third-down conversions. And, without linebackers Jack Campbell and Seth Benson, cornerback Matt Hankins and linebacker Nick Niemann were forced to pick up the slack in the pass defense. The result was the secondary facing a very talented David Bell, who exposed Iowa’s defensive holes.

Make no mistake, without careless mishaps and losses on both sides of the ball, this is a very solid Iowa team. However, the ‘Cats could capitalize on a weak Hawkeye secondary because apparently we have a passing game now (all hail Peyton Ramsey), and our No. 6 ranked defense could cause further offensive mistakes.

Allegations of racial discrimination against coaches persist

Behind the X’s and O’s, eight former Hawkeye players recently wrote a letter to the university requesting $20 million dollars and the firing of Kirk Ferentz, his son and offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz and athletic director Gary Barta following allegations of racism within the program. The letter comes after a summer full of investigations into complaints made by 60 Iowa football alums and the firing of long-time strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle. Doyle was accused of using racial slurs directed at players before being let go with $1.1 million as part of a separation agreement in June.

Other allegations include Black athletes receiving harsher punishments than white athletes for similar offenses, ridicule and bullying using racially divisive language and the revoking of meal-card privileges for certain Black players. The University has refused the group’s initial requests, forcing the eight players’ legal representation to look into a potential lawsuit. For the 2020 Hawkeyes, what is happening off the field is definitely something to keep tabs on even if it may not make headlines on Saturdays this season.