Iowa shakes off injuries, dominates Northwestern to take control of West
Final: No. 17 Iowa 40, No. 20 Northwestern 10
Key play: C.J. Beathard picks up key third down in third quarter
Beathard was a shell of himself on Saturday. The Iowa signal-caller was clearly banged up with hip and groin injuries. His mobility was hampered all afternoon. But with the Hawkeyes in the red zone leading 16-10, Beathard dug deep and scrambled six yards to convert a key third down. It set up an Iowa touchdown to make it a 23-10 game. Keep in mind that Marshall Koehn had missed an extra point and a 34-yard field goal already. If Beathard didn’t pick up that first down with his legs, there’s a chance NU would’ve gotten the ball back with momentum and a chance to take the lead. Instead, Beathard once again made the winning play.
Telling stat: Akrum Wadley scores four touchdowns
When Jordan Canzeri went down in the first half, Iowa City probably held its collective breath. Then the Iowa offensive line reminded everyone that it punishes people and Wadley went off. Four a guy that had eight career carries entering Saturday to tie a school-record shows you how dominant the Hawkeyes were up front. That’s the constant with this team. We’ve all talked about how Kirk Ferentz is doing new things this year, but it’s an old staple that’s fueled this group to a 7-0 start.
-Canzeri leaves with ankle injury
I talked about the concern of Canzeri’s recent workload heading into Saturday and sure enough, he didn’t make it through the first half. The injury-plagued back got his ankle twisted up, which forced him to the sideline in a walking boot in the second half. Wadley filled in admirably — to say the least — but the Hawkeyes need Canzeri back. His role in the passing game has been big for C.J. Beathard, who showed he’s definitely not 100 percent. LeShun Daniels is still not healthy, either. This backfield hasn’t skipped a beat all year, but Canzeri’s injury would arguably be felt more than Daniels’. The bye week couldn’t come at a better time for the Hawkeyes.
-Clayton Thorson is struggling against B1G defenses
I gave Clayton Thorson credit for not making the key mistakes in his first starts of the season. But against Michigan and Iowa, his youth showed. Josey Jewell and Jaleel Johnson harassed the redshirt freshman all afternoon. Part of that is on the Wildcats’ offensive line, which is far superior in the running game than it is in the passing game. Part of that is on a quarterback that needs to make quicker decisions and recognize when he needs to throw the ball away, and not to Desmond King, who recorded his nation-leading sixth interception. Northwestern is not a team than can play from behind. Justin Jackson can’t get rolling when the Wildcats are taking deep sacks. Right now, this offense is going in reverse.
What it means: Iowa is the clear West favorite
Saturday was supposed to be a defensive struggle against two West contenders. It turned out to be another statement from the Hawkeyes. For Iowa to be 3-0 with road wins at Wisconsin and Northwestern is saying something. You could argue that those were the Hawkeyes’ two toughest games of 2015. It’s only three B1G games, but the road is now paved for Iowa to get to Indianapolis. The Hawkeyes get a bye week to get healthy, then it ends the season with five winnable games against teams with a combined B1G record of 1-10. Iowa looks destined for Indianapolis.