Injuries be damned.
The Iowa Hawkeyes are one of the more bruised and battered football teams in the country but it never seems to stop them. It didn't against the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison and it didn't today against the Northwestern Wildcats in Evanston. Kirk Ferentz and Iowa improved to 7-0 on the year in sort of surprising fashion. They were the Vegas favorite for most of the week but the final score was 40-10, a margin of victory that nobody expected.
Once again the Hawkeyes had to subtract a major offensive weapon early in the game when senior running back Jordan Canzeri left the game with an apparent lower leg injury. He returned to the sideline in a boot to support his teammates. Original starter LeShun Daniels has already been held out with a high-ankle sprain so it was up to Akrum Wadley and Derrick Mitchell in the backfield. And they were up to the challenge.
Akrum Wadley carried the ball 26 times for 204 yards and tied a school record with four rushing touchdowns that was actually set by Jordan Canzeri a few weeks ago against North Texas. Additionally, Derrick Mitchell totaled 10 carries for 79 yards and a score. It's been 'next man in' for the Hawkeyes all season and that was no different today.
Quarterback C.J. Beathard was also an interesting storyline today after being held out for most of practice throughout this week with an injured groin and hip. He was clearly limited in what he could do today and was in obvious pain. Beathard fought through it all to lead his team to another Big Ten road win, and he still managed to be efficient on the day. He did throw one interception but compiled a 60 percent completion percentage while throwing the ball for 176 yards. There were plays to be made on the ground that he has made all season that he just couldn't pull off today but he was able to contribute just enough for his teammates.
Wide receiver Tevaun Smith returned to action today, a bit earlier than anticipated. He did not have a decided impact but it is a good sign that he has recovered to the point that he was able to see the field today. Smith reeled off two big catches in the first half but both were called back from penalties.
Both of the offensive tackles did not play today as expected but the reserves stepped in well. Cole Croston had another solid game at left tackle. Sean Welsh, not James Daniels, played right tackle and was solid enough in pass protection for it to not be a glaring concern. James Daniels got the start but they kept him on the interior at left guard where he fared much better.
Defensively the Hawkeyes pitched another second half shutout. The standards for this defense are extremely high with all the sensational performances they've reeled off this season. This was another beauty and it included the sixth interception of the season by Desmond King who might be playing at an all-american level.
Northwestern also only mustered 51 yards on the ground. Iowa held the Wildcats to just 198 yards total. They forced three turnovers. The defense was outstanding in nearly every facet.
Iowa, ranked 17th in the nation, will now enter their bye week at 7-0 and a commanding lead of the Big Ten West.