Hawkeyes, Wildcats showdown could have major B1G West implications
Who: No. 17 Iowa vs. No. 21 Northwestern
When: Saturday, 11 a.m. CT
Where: Ryan Field, Northwestern
Spread: Pick ’em
Matchup to watch: Nate Meier vs. Justin Jackson
If I’m Iowa, I’m very thankful for Michigan. The Wolverines gave the Hawkeyes the blueprint for containing the Northwestern tailback. Sure, it helped that the Wildcats were trailing from the get-go. Still, Michigan didn’t let Jackson get to the edge at all. Iowa has to follow that plan. Meier’s the one that has to be running the show, especially without Drew Ott. Meier and Cole Fisher will be responsible for preventing Jackson from doing what he does best, which is turning one and two-yard gains into four and five-yard gains. Meier was a main reason that Iowa hadn’t allowed a rushing touchdown all year until last week. If the Hawkeyes contain Jackson, they shut down the majority of the Wildcats’ offensive production.
Thing I’m excited to see: Northwestern’s response
For the first time this year, the Wildcats got punched in the mouth. And it was ugly. Nobody was expecting the Wolverines to completely dominate Northwestern in every facet on Saturday. Michigan was ready to go and Northwestern wasn’t. Now, the Wildcats get a chance to bounce back against their top competition in the West. Well, thus is life in the B1G. Pat Fitzgerald figures to have his squad better prepared this week. It allowed more points to Michigan than they had all season. Count on the likes of Anthony Walker and Deonte Gibson to come out firing for a unit desperate to get the taste of last week out of its mouth.
Number to Remember: 69
That’s how many carries Jordan Canzeri racked up the last two games. His 43 against Illinois were a school record. How many times has Canzeri had more than 25 carries in his career? Twice. They were the last two weeks. I’m not doubting the 5-9, 192-pound back’s toughness. He’s been the workhorse the Hawkeyes needed. But this guy isn’t 240 pounds like Marc Weisman. We could see some wear and tear on Canzeri if he keeps getting that kind of workload. He and C.J. Beathard were both considerably sore after last week’s game against Illinois. If LeShun Daniels can’t give it a go, get the ice bath ready for Canzeri.
Prediction: Iowa 17, Northwestern 16
All conventional wisdom suggests that Northwestern should come out ready to go in this one. I think the Wildcats will. But I think Iowa is able to withstand the Wildcats’ early punch and respond late. We don’t know how mobile Beathard will be coming off that groin injury, but this could easily turn into another Wisconsin-like effort. Maybe another Desmond King interception changes the tone of this one. Either way, the Hawkeyes squeak to 7-0 and get a major win to help their B1G West title aspirations.