The Wildcats looks to build upon their 1-0 start on the road against the Iowa Hawkeyes, who faltered in Week One vs. Purdue. Peyton Ramsey will look to carry his team to victory again and capitalize on Iowa’s early-season miscues.
Our staff shared their prediction for this weekend’s matchup, and while the results were more split than last Saturday’s, the majority still saw the ‘Cats going 1-0 again this weekend.
If you want to see Rodger Sherman’s weekly picks, head on over to the Inside NUsletter.
Eli Karp: Northwestern 26, Iowa 24
I’m uncomfortable projecting these teams to combine for 50 points, something they haven’t done head-to-head since 2017, yet here we are. Iowa will clean up its week one messiness, but that doesn’t mean we’ll see quite the stout Hawkeye defense Northwestern is used to seeing. There’s rightfully some concern about NU’s thin defensive front, but with wind in the forecast, I like the Wildcats’ short and intermediate passing approach more than I do some of Iowa’s big play threats.
Lia Assimakopoulos: Northwestern 24, Iowa 20
Maybe it’s a bold move, but I’m taking the ‘Cats this weekend. Northwestern has the momentum it needs to beat down on an already insecure Iowa team who dropped an early game to Purdue last week. Peyton Ramsey will pick apart the Iowa secondary, just like Purdue did, and the running backs will have another standout day. However, Iowa won’t go down without a fight, so this one will go down to the wire.
Noah Coffman: Io_a 27, Northwestern 24
Right now, Northwestern looks like a better football team than Io_a. Unfortunately, when these two teams play, the better one often loses. I have confidence in this offense’s ability to move the ball and create big plays when they need to already, but going up against an actual Power 5-level front seven will be a significant change for Mike Bajakian and co. The offensive line and secondary were both remarkably impressive in Week 1, and a lot hinges on that success continuing against much stiffer competition. I have more faith in the former than the latter (though Greg Newsome II’s availability will be crucial in that regard), but both, in addition to a depleted defensive line, make me nervous.
Colin Kruse: Iowa 21, Northwestern 20
I’m not going to let optimism get the better of me for this week’s tilt against the Hawkeyes. Northwestern’s lack of depth at defensive line concerns me, with the confirmed absences of Trevor Kent and Jason Gold, Jr. The Fighting Fitzes have done well to stifle Iowa’s rushing attack in recent few years, but a depleted defensive front and fewer mistakes from the likes of Mekhi Sargent and Tyler Goodson could swing the balance in favor of Kirk Ferentz’s squad. The ‘Cats’ offense won’t necessarily have a bad game, but the Hawkeyes will be a little bit sharper than last week on both sides of the ball and pull out a close one in Iowa City.
Daniel Olinger: Northwestern 27, Iowa 20
Overreacting to one game is a dangerous thing. Look no further than Northwestern’s overmatched week one foe Maryland, who last year vaulted into the AP Top 25 following their demolition of Syracuse, only to lose to every team left of their schedule whose name didn’t rhyme with Schmutgers. In addition, a case can be made that Iowa actually outplayed Purdue in their opening loss, as they averaged more yards per carry and yards per passing attempt, yet lost due to two untimely fumbles in their opponent’s territory. The Hawkeyes have home field advantage and were one of the four losses I predicted on Northwestern’s record. However, watching their defense truly struggle to stop the Aidan O’Connell-David Bell passing connection last week convinced me that Ramsey should have plenty of success through the air and put up enough points for the ‘Cats to pull out a close win.
Mac Stone: Northwestern 27, Io_a 21
Am I foolishly picking the ‘Cats based on last week’s performance alone? Absolutely. Northwestern has no shortage of weaknesses, most of which weren’t displayed against Maryland (because it’s Maryland). The Wildcats have a thin defensive line and a secondary that has yet to be tested. However, the Hawkeyes are no stranger to weaknesses either, as Io_a’s secondary let Purdue wide receiver David Bell find the end zone three times last Saturday. Look for Ramsey to have a solid day through the air and for the ‘Cats to pull out a tight one at Kinnick.
Ben Chasen: Northwestern 27, Io_a 24
This is the biggest test of the season for the ‘Cats (for now). After beating a bad Maryland team like a drum in a heavy metal song, Northwestern walks into an eerily-empty Kinnick on Saturday night for some Halloween fun against the Hawkeyes, who, unlike the Terrapins, are actually a functioning football team. I expect this one to come down to which team can find more success converting in the red zone. Based on the small sample size we’ve seen this year, that seems more likely than not to be the Wildcats, but it could really go either way.
Sydney Supple: Northwestern 28, Iowa 23
This game is going to come down to which defense can step up and be more physical. Northwestern is coming off a strong week one, and I truly believe Ramsey will only get better as the weeks go on and he gets even more comfortable with his teammates and play calling. Iowa may have seen game film from Northwestern’s running backs last week, but trying to defend them is a whole other hurdle. While Iowa will clean up certain areas after its loss against Purdue, I don’t think it will be enough to stop the momentum the Wildcats are creating.
William Karmin: Northwestern 27, Iowa 20
The last time Northwestern was an underdog in Iowa City, Bennett Skowronek made “The Catch” and the rest is history. Northwestern was an eleven-point ‘dog that day and is only a three-point underdog on Saturday. We probably have too many staffers picking Northwestern, but for good reason. These two teams are trending in opposite directions and Fitz typically thrives in these situations. As long as Northwestern contains Iowa’s rushing attack, a big if, the Wildcats should advance to 2-0.
Jacob Brown: Iowa 34, Northwestern 14
After losing what should’ve been an easy game against a short-staffed Purdue team, Iowa bounces back with a vengeance. Spencer Petras failed to throw for a touchdown, despite completing 22 passes for 265 yards. I would expect Iowa to go with a pass-heavy game plan and try to attack Brandon Joseph. Kirk Ferentz is not going to start the season 0-2, especially not at Kinnick.
Liam Warin: Northwestern 24, Iowa 21
It’s one thing to beat a lowly team like Maryland by 40 points; it’s an entirely different thing to do that and look good doing it. That’s exactly what Northwestern did, as Peyton Ramsey looked even better than ‘Cats fans hoped. I think the always-sturdy defense will hold their own against an Iowa team that’s starting quarterback has only thrown 50 passes in his college career. Northwestern wins in what some might see as an upset at Iowa in a relatively high scoring fashion for these notorious defensive stalwarts.
Didi Jin: Northwestern 31, Iowa 21
Iowa is a much, much better football team than Maryland, and coming off of a painful loss to Purdue marked by sloppy play, the Hawkeyes will certainly come out firing on all cylinders this Saturday. Matchups aside, it’s my belief in Pat Fitzgerald and this program this year that makes me confident that the ‘Cats will come out on top. This is a very winnable game for a team that has something to prove after a dismal 2019, and I think they showed last week that they have the tools to contend for the B1G West this season. If they can establish the run early, Northwestern will remain undefeated.
Andrew Katz: Northwestern 31, Iowa 23
Even if it was against an awful Maryland defense, the Wildcats offense was hitting on all cylinders. Iowa is coming off a disappointing loss to Purdue and it’s hard to picture the Hawkeyes starting 0-2, but the ‘Cats have the momentum following their 40-point blowout-win. The defense will surely allow more than three points, but as long as the turnover differential is in Northwestern’s favor, the Wildcats can start the year off 2-0.
Josh Miller: Iowa 28, Northwestern 14
The turnover battle might be the most important facet of this game. Last week, the ‘Cats generated four turnovers against Maryland without giving up any of their own, while Iowa had two fumbles in its loss to Purdue. The Wildcats could feasibly win if Peyton Ramsey takes care of the ball and the secondary makes Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras pay for his inconsistency, however, quality programs like Iowa rarely start 0-2. The Hawkeyes will play like their season depends on it and make it tough for the Wildcats to come away with the victory. The game will be close at half but Iowa will pull away at the end.
Sarah Effress: Northwestern 24, Iowa 21
The Hawkeyes are coming off a close loss to Purdue, meaning they will be facing the ‘Cats with a vengeance. However, Spencer Petras didn’t look like much of a threat—albeit Maryland’s offense is not up to par with Iowa’s, Petras’ inconsistency is something we can capitalize on should it continue. That being said, Iowa is still a good team and Bajakian’s offense has yet to face a real defensive test. My hopes are high, but this will be a close one.
Everyone else: 1-0