Post-Game Analysis: Iowa
by Jonathan Hodges

Northwestern (7-2, 3-2) continued its recent domination of the Iowa Hawkeyes (4-4, 2-2) as the Wildcats won 28-17 after building a 25 point third quarter lead and holding off Iowa just enough to reel in the homecoming victory. The 'Cats are now guaranteed of their fourth winning season under Fitz, which ties him for third all time for NU coaches, and also their fifth .500+ season. NU also puts itself in solid position regarding a bowl game, with NU all but assured a trip to at least Phoenix, with the Gator being a likely destination. Meanwhile, the story of the game was Kain Colter leading the Northwestern running attack as it racked up 349 yards on the ground at an astounding 7.1 yards per carry. Trevor Siemian was on the field for just two plays in the game (and completed his only pass for 4 yards) as Fitz and OC Mick McCall focused on Colter and the read option game. And, this worked very well against a stout Iowa defense.

On the other side of the ball, it was mostly Hawkeye mistakes (penalties, incompletions) that kept Iowa in check, but the Northwestern defense held their own until late in the game when they were on the field for just way too long (Iowa had 34:25 time of possession on the day), and both of Iowa's TDs came off of NU miscues (when NU failed to convert a fourth down midway through the third quarter and when NU lost the ball on a fumble due to a bad snap in the fourth quarter at the Iowa three yard line). David Nwabuisi was on clean-up duty, tallying 18 tackles on the day as the linebackers didn't allow an Iowa run longer than 9 yards and held the Hawkeyes to 3.0 yards per carry as the defensive line racked up three sacks on the day.

Northwestern also made some big plays as Tyris Jones blocked a punt that set up NU at the Iowa four yard line at which point Colter ran it in for a TD on a nifty little run. Colter also had a 47 yard TD bomb to Christian Jones, while Venric Mark had a 72 yard run from 1st and 10 at NU's own one yard line (unfortunately he was tracked down by Micah Hyde but not after storming three quarters of the way down the field). Those three big plays propelled the 'Cats to what would be an insurmountable lead.

Overall, a solid game even if there are areas to clean up, but now Northwestern has two weeks to rest and prepare for their biggest game of the regular season: a trip to play Michigan. If NU wins, they'll suddenly be in the thick of the Legends Division race, just behind Nebraska who has some challenging games left on the schedule.

Player of the Game: Northwestern QB Kain Colter (6-of-9 passing for 80 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 26 carries for 166 yards, 3 TD). Colter definitively answered the QB question this Saturday with a huge game on the ground and respectable one through the air that featured a 47 yard TD pass to Christian Jones that will certainly make opponents respect Colter's passing threat even if he runs a ground-heavy attack.

Northwestern Honorable Mentions:
RB/KR/PR Venric Mark (16 carries for 162 yards; 2 receptions for 11 yards; 187 all-purpose yards), LB David Nwabuisi (18 tackles, 11 solo, 0.5 TFLs), LB Damien Proby (12 tackles, 1 PBU), DE Tyler Scott (5 tackles, 1 sack), NU offensive line (0 sacks allowed, 7.1 yards per carry for NU).

What to Work on:
The Fourth Quarter: when the 'Cats needed to take charge the most, they had a bad snap at the Iowa three yard line that turned the ball over and then their only three-and-out of the game on the subsequent possession. This cause NU fans to work up a sweat after going up 28-3 in the third quarter, and although the Wildcats would end up winning by 11, this ended a lot closer than it should have been. Northwestern must continue to execute both in play calling and on the field as the theme of the season so far seems to be fourth quarter implosions (PSU, Nebraska) or near-misses (Syracuse, Iowa).
Getting Healthy: CBs Nick VanHoose and Quinn Evans were out for the game, the defensive line saw some of its guys come out nicked up during the game, and even Colter favored his leg near the end of the game. The bye week came at a perfect time for Northwestern as they must get healthy for what will likely be their toughest test of the season when they travel to Ann Arbor.

Go 'Cats!!!

e-mail: j-hodges@alumni.northwestern.edu

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