EVANSTON, Ill. – Iowa bounced back from a pair of losses against ranked opponents by finding just enough from its offense to escape with a home win over Purdue. The No. 19 Hawkeyes will try to find points on the road when they visit Northwestern on Saturday.
TV: Noon ET, ESPN2. LINE: Iowa -10
Iowa totaled 21 points in its two true road games this season - an 18-17 victory at Iowa State and a 10-3 setback at Michigan - and is looking for more out of a rushing attack averaging 57.7 yards on the ground over the last three games. "I wish we were rushing for 250 a game in a perfect world," Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz told reporters. "I think we made progress last week. I think things looked a little more cohesive with our blocking. It starts there. There's a lot of moving parts there. ... But we still have work to do and it's going to be that way for a while." The Wildcats are having their own issues on offense and rank 13th in the Big Ten in scoring offense (12.5 points), ahead of only Rutgers. "Continually beating ourselves," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald told reporters. "We have guys that are pressing, trying to do too much than just their job. ... We're going to be relentless working fundamentally, and just as the snowball kind of goes in a negative way, you can flip that thing around in a positive way. I've been doing this thing way too long. But we've got to get better fundamentally."
ABOUT IOWA (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten)
While the offense takes some time rounding into form, the defense is making sure the team stays in games and may have found a star last week in defensive back Riley Moss. The sophomore was hurt early in the season and saw limited time in two games before emerging in the 26-20 triumph over Purdue with an interception and a tackle for loss. "He's ascending, playing with more confidence, more decisiveness than a year ago," Ferentz told reporters of Moss. "I don't think he's a much better athlete than a year ago, but he's a better football player. Losing him hurt our defensive football ... Getting him back is certainly a bonus."
ABOUT NORTHWESTERN (1-5, 0-4)
The Wildcats were run over 52-3 at home by Ohio State last week and look like a different team than the one that went to the Big Ten Championship Game last season. "There's been a change in leadership and that's not to say the leaders aren't doing a good job," quarterback Aidan Smith told reporters. "I think we need to do a better job holding each other accountable. Really getting into the film room and getting on each other for dropped passes, missed blocks or a missed read by myself during practice. I think it boils down to holding each other accountable." Smith started the last two games in place of Hunter Johnson, who remains questionable with a knee injury.
1. Iowa QB Nate Stanley needs one TD pass to pass Drew Tate (61) for second place in school history.
2. Northwestern DE Joe Gaziano is tied for the school record with 10 forced fumbles.
3. The Wildcats took the last three meetings.
PREDICTION: Iowa 17, Northwestern 9