The storyline of this Saturday's contest between the Iowa Hawkeyes and Northwestern Wildcats in Evanston has easily been the injury report. Iowa will be without starters Drew Ott, Boone Myers, Ike Boettger, LeShun Daniels, and Tevaun Smith while the Wildcats will be down starting cornerback Matt Harris.
Furthermore, quarterback C.J. Beathard is dinged up pretty good as well for the Hawkeyes and has not been able to get a whole lot of practice time in this week, though I do not anticipate that having much of an impact on his play.
You can tell a lot about a game's outcome if you can narrow in on how it will be played. How will this one go?
Northwestern has a great running back in Justin Jackson and a dual-threat under center in quarterback Clayton Thorson. It's been a nice one-two punch for them this year outside of tossing up a zero on the scoreboard against the vaunted Michigan defense.
What does that tell us for this week? It could tell us a lot. Iowa's defense is very similar to Michigan's. The Wolverines have a very good front seven and have an elite cornerback in Jourdan Lewis. The Hawkeyes are built the same way. The front seven has been good all year and Desmond King has locked up everyone he's went against including picking off five passes.
So Iowa's defense should have the same luck as Michigan's, right? Perhaps. But the difference could be field position. Without turnovers and a solid running game, Iowa's defense could be defending a short field more often than not.
Despite their lackluster performance against Michigan, Northwestern has a stout defense. Iowa is down both offensive tackles. Jordan Canzeri will have to play out of his mind again for a win. I don't see that happening. Iowa has a better chance of running the ball than passing just because I don't expect the protection to be there. But can they run it enough to keep field position in their favor? I just don't see that happening this week.
Northwestern finds a way to score just enough to hold off a sputtering Iowa offensive attack. 27 may be high but that's what I'm anticipating the Wildcats scoring. That would be too much for the Hawkeyes to overcome.
Northwestern 27 Iowa 20