Iowa scored on its first three possessions, added a blocked punt return for a touchdown and sprinted to a 24-0 lead after the first quarter. They proceeded to outscore the Wildcats 14-7 in the second quarter to take a 38-7 lead into the locker room. The second half wasn’t any better and Northwestern left Iowa City with a 48-7 defeat.
Despite the final score, the outcome could have been worse. Iowa dominated in every way. Only the turnover battle and fourth down conversions were not dominated by Iowa. The Hawkeyes had six drives over 35 yards and the Wildcats had just one.
Northwestern’s offense sputtered for the second straight game. After gaining 290 yards against Nebraska two weeks ago, Northwestern managed only 180 against Iowa. The stagnant offense continued after Northwestern gained just 28 yards on 26 second half plays against Nebraska.
In the last six quarters, Northwestern has only gained only 208 yards and scored just seven points. Their defense has allowed 72.
The Wildcats have now dropped three straight after a three game winning streak. That included beginning the Big Ten season 2-0 with upset wins over Penn State and Wisconsin.
The defense had played well until the second half collapse against the Cornhuskers. Today was a complete team loss. Iowa began the game with a Jonathan Parker 56 yard kickoff return, it was followed a few plays later by a Mark Weissman touchdown and the Hawkeyes were off and running.
By the time Iowa had built the 24-0 lead, they had outgained Northwestern 146 to -7.
Northwestern had seemed to turn the season around after two disappointing losses to California and Northern Illinois at Ryan Field to begin the season. They followed that up with a non-conference win over Western Illinois and then two wins to begin the Big Ten.
Justin Jackson finished with 96 yards and a touchdown. He had entered the game with three straight 100 yard games.
Their disastrous last six quarters poses a lot of questions. Fitzgerald didn’t seem to have any immediate answers.
“I’m incredibly disappointed,” Fitzgerald said. “Obviously it starts with me, starts with our staff. We have to look at our personnel. We had some guys play very poorly today.”
Northwestern will return to Ryan Field next week when its hosts Michigan. They need to win three of their last four games to have a chance at a bowl bid. The close the season with trips to Notre Dame and Purdue before finishing the season at home against Illinois.