Iowa Hawkeyes will squeak by the Northwestern Wildcats
The Northwestern Wildcats, (3-4, 2-2 Big Ten) have given the Iowa Hawkeyes, (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten), fits in recent years.
The Wildcats are 6-3 against Iowa over the last nine games. Iowa needed overtime last season, at home, for one of those three victories.
Over the last four games the teams are 2-2, the home team winning each of those games.
Both teams are coming off a bye and a loss.
Iowa is a five point favorite over the Wildcats, again playing in Iowa City this year.
This season Northwestern started slowly before reeling off three straight wins including one against 17th ranked Wisconsin. They have since lost their last two against Minnesota and Nebraska.
Northwestern sports a decent defense amassing 13 turnovers and 14 sacks. They give up just 20.4 points-per-game but allow 374.9 yards a game.
The Wildcat offense lacks a big play threat with only seven pass plays over 25 yards, and just 24 points in their last two games.
Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian is completing just 57 percent of his passes with only four touchdowns to six interceptions.
Their running game averages just 3.4 yards-per-carry. Justin Jackson has shown signs of life lately.
He picked up 128 yards and two touchdowns against Nebraska and 106 yards in the previous game against Minnesota, averaging 5.8 and 4.6 yards-per-carry.
The lack of big play threats is good news for Iowa, as they have been burned by them all season.
In their last game alone, Maryland had five plays of 20 yards or more, which doesn't sound all that bad until you consider Maryland really only has one big play threat in Stefon Diggs.
Overall the Hawkeye defense doesn't look bad on paper, forcing 12 turnovers with 17 sacks while giving up just 21.9 points-per-game and 343.1 yards.
Iowa has struggeld to find an identity with an offensive line that was supposed to be a strength struggling and a complete lack of big play ability themselves. Seven games into 2014 and they are still looking for that identity.
They have just 12 pass plays of 25 yards or more. Unlike Northwestern Iowa has the big play potential.
Quarterback Jake Rudock has dink and unked his way to 64.8% completion percentage but only 6.31 yards-per-attempt.
The 6.31 yards-per-attempt rank second to last in the Big Ten among current starting quarterbacks. Only Sieman is behind him at 5.6.
Damond Powell leads the team in receiveing yards with 278 yards on just 12 catches. That's a 23.2 yard average.
Their longest pass play of the year was a 3-yard swing pass Powell took 69 more yards for a touchdown.
Jonathan Parker has 94 yards rushing on 10 totes.
Two guys that can burn, but rarely see the ball.
Iowa prefers to plod their way to victories controlling the ball and clock.
It is not a bad formula, Iowa is almost always near the top of the league, making a decent to good bowl, like the Orange Bowl last season, but they rarely threaten the top Big Ten teams.
This season they are only 10 points away from being undefeated.
Iowa is clearly the better team in this game, but it is not likely to translate into a big margin of victory.
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald seems to have the Hawkeyes number.
This should be a low scoring game that Iowa wins by a field goal, 27-24.