Northwestern has dynamic players on offense and defense. They've struggled out of the gate so far at 1-3 and Iowa has dominated them in the past couple of seasons. This could suggest that we could be headed towards an Iowa blowout win. However, Northwestern's defense could keep them in this game if Iowa isn't clicking on all cylinders in the run game.
The Hawkeyes lost their leading receiver in Matt Vandeberg, so that hurts the passing game quite a bit. Look for heavy doses of the run and George Kittle as the young receivers get comfortable.
Here are five Wildcats to know on both sides of the football before kickoff on Saturday.
I might sound like a broken record, but this is the kid to keep an eye on for Saturday. He’s entering his third year as the main back for the Wildcats and ran for over 1,400 yards last season. This is going to be Iowa’s third look at him and so far they’ve done a good job keeping him under wraps. He ran for just 30 yards last season in an Iowa rout.
So far this season, it appears it’s heavy doses of Jackson from Pat Fitzgerald’s team. He’s received at least 20 carries in three of the first four games for the Wildcats and is averaging just over four yards per rush. Look for Jackson to be involved early and often for the Wildcats.
Carr has emerged as a nice pass catcher for the Wildcats. Over the course of his first three seasons in Evanston he totaled just 402 yards receiving. This season, Carr is sitting at 392 through just four games. He’s caught 26 passes, which is 16 more than anyone else on the team and is without a doubt Clayton Thorson’s favorite target early on in the season.
Carr will likely see heavy doses of both Greg Mabin and Desmond King, as we have learned King does not follow the opposing teams best receiver around. This could be the game where Carr finally struggles because of the ability and experience of these Iowa corners. Desmond King allowed one catch for two yards last week against Rutgers.
Thorson, a true freshman last season, really struggled against Iowa last year and overall for the matter. He completed just 50% of his passes and threw just seven touchdowns compared to nine interceptions. So far this season, it appears Fitzgerald is trusting him a bit more. He is completing 53% of his passes through four games and is throwing it more than he did last season.
He’s been kind of hit and miss for the Wildcats. He’s had two games where he has completed 65+% of his passes then he’s had two where he has been in the 40’s. I’d like to see Iowa dial up some pressure on a young QB that is still finding his niche.
Walker is one of the league’s most dynamic linebackers. He’s not leading the team in tackles, but that could be in large part due to the fact that opposing offenses are really keying on him as the guy that they don’t want in on tackles. Fellow linebacker Jaylen Prater is leading the team in tackles, but Walker does have his fair share at 25 total tackles on the season.
He’s the center point of a Wildcat defense that was stout last season, although Iowa fans did not see that because of how badly the Hawkeyes beat the Wildcats. Walker returns and this defense is still very strong, but teams have been keying on Walker and trying to take him away so far this season.
Igwebuike might be the most impactful defensive player the Wildcats have. He plays safety in the secondary that has labeled themselves the “no fly zone” and has really done a solid job holding things down back there. He’s been a player ever since he stepped foot on campus and that’s no different this season. He’s racked up 37 total tackles on the young season with four for a loss.
He’s also tallied one interception this year. He will kind of roam around everywhere, so C.J. Beathard will have to be conscious of where Godwin is at all times on Saturday.
The Hawkeyes and Wildcats will kick it off Saturday at 11 a.m. CT.