IOWA CITY, Iowa - Northwestern looks to take a big step towards its first appearance in the Big Ten Championship game when it visits Iowa on Saturday. The Wildcats control their own destiny with a one-game lead over Wisconsin and Purdue, including the head-to-head tiebreaker over both teams, and hope to stay on course for their first Big Ten West Division title by extending their conference winning streak to five games.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Iowa -11.
Northwestern has won nine straight contests against West Division rivals and can clinch the title as early as Saturday if they beat the Hawkeyes while Purdue and Wisconsin both fall. Iowa suffered a 38-36 setback to Purdue in Week 10 to fall into fourth place in the West Division. The Hawkeyes were flying high after a 6-1 start but have been reduced to the role of spoiler after dropping two straight games by a combined eight points. They hope to get back on track by beating Northwestern for the first time since 2015. "The last two weeks (against Penn State and Purdue) we've been in tough environments against good teams so we're eager to get back to Kinnick Stadium," Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz told reporters. "Hopefully we'll get back to playing the kind of football we want to play and come out victorious."
ABOUT NORTHWESTERN (5-4, 5-1 Big Ten)
Clayton Thorson was 16-of-29 for 141 yards and a touchdown in the 31-21 loss to third-ranked Notre Dame in Week 10 to move within 13 completions of passing Brett Basanez (913) for top spot on the Wildcats' all-time list. Flynn Nagel caught four passes for 33 yards against the Fighting Irish to extend his streak of consecutive games with a reception to 27, which is tied for the longest streak in the Big Ten. "I try not to pay attention to that too much and I care more about wins and losses than I do individual stats," Nagel told reporters. "I'm not paying attention to it too much as I'm more focused on winning."
ABOUT IOWA (6-3, 3-3 Big Ten)
Nate Stanley threw for 275 yards and a touchdown against Purdue to tie Matt Sherman (43) for fifth place on the program's all-time TD passing list. Ivory Kelly-Martin rushed for 39 yards before suffering an ankle injury against the Boilermakers and will likely miss Saturday's clash, while fullback Brady Moss is expected to sit out his fourth straight game with a leg issue. Miguel Recinos made three extra points to extend his streak of consecutive makes to 77 while kicking his 10th straight successful field goal (34 yards) in the second quarter.
1. Northwestern has won 12 of its last 13 Big Ten games dating back to last season.
2. Iowa is 4-1 at home in 2018.
3. The Wildcats have won six straight conference road games.
PREDICTION: Iowa 24, Northwestern 21
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