Game Preview & NCAAF Odds: Can Northwestern Beat Iowa at Home?
The Northwestern Wildcats will look to bounce back from their Week 6 beat-down and take down the unbeaten Iowa Hawkeyes when the two rivals square off in their Week 7 Big Ten showdown on Saturday. Accomplishing their task won’t be any walk in the park, even if Iowa doesn’t get the same amount of national publicity that some of the other teams in the national Top 20 do. Now, let’s find out if Northwestern can bring home the bacon in this Big Ten battle.
No. 17 Iowa Hawkeyes at No. 20 Northwestern Wildcats
When: 12:00 PM ET, Saturday, October 17, 2015
Where: Ryan Field, Evanston, Illinois
NCAAF Odds: Iowa -2.5
TV: ABC, ESPN2
— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) October 15, 2015
Iowa Hawkeyes (6-0 SU, 4-2 ATS)
Iowa man-handled Illinois in its 29-20, Week 6 win to move to 2-0 in the Big Ten and 6-0 overall for the first time since 2009. The Hawkeyes’ fine start marks only third time since 1985 they have started 6-0 and just the eighth time in school history they have opened a season by winning their first half-dozen games.
Running back Jordan Canzeri won the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award after rushing for 256 yards on a school-record 43 carries while quarterback C.J. Beathard completed 15 of 31 passes for 200 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
“When we get to the bye week it’ll be nice to recover and rest a little bit. But right now we’ve just got Northwestern on our mind,” Beathard said.
More importantly, the Hawkeyes have been stupendous on defense, ranking fifth against the run and a stellar 18th in points allowed (16.2 ppg). The Hawkeyes are tied for the Big Ten lead with eight interceptions, including a Big Ten-best five from cornerback Desmond King. Iowa is one of only three FBS schools that has allowed just one rushing touchdown this season. The bad news is that Iowa saw star defensive end Drew Ott go down for the remainder season with a torn ACL.
Northwestern Wildcats (5-1 SU, 4-2 ATS)
The Wildcats let me – and all of their fans – down in a big way by never showing up in their meaningful Week 6 conference matchup against Michigan. Northwestern got pounded from beginning to end in getting shut out by the Wolverines 38-0 and never coming close to covering the spread as a 10.5-point road dog.
“We just couldn’t get out of our own way, offensively,” head coach Pat Fitzgerald said after his team allowed a 96-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff and trailed by four touchdowns by halftime.
“We’d put something together, we’d get a penalty, we’d get a drop, we’d get a missed assignment. So that’s disappointing, obviously. It starts and ends with me.”
The Wildcats never got a thing going offensively and saw star running back Justin Jackson get held to a career-low 25 rushing yards on 12 carries for a Northwestern squad that had been averaging a Big Ten-best, 248.8 yards on the ground.
Northwestern managed a grad total of just 38 rushing yards against the Wolverines while quarterback Clayton Thorson was limited to 13 of 27 passing for 106 yards and one interception.
“Not physical enough up front. … Up front, we couldn’t get any movement on our one-on-ones,” Fitzgerald told the school’s official website. “That made it tough sledding for Justin. We’ve got to get our run game going. That’s our bread-and-butter. We’ve got to be able to run the football.”
Northwestern will be without Matthew Harris with the Wildcats’ starting cornerback suffering broken bones in his face on an apparent hit to the head by the knee of a running back last week.
Game Analysis: Iowa has won two straight against Northwestern and I’m going to pick them to make it three in a row even though 57 percent of the betting public likes Northwestern to bounce back and get the ATS cover at the very least.
The Hawkeyes are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 road games against a team with a winning home record and a blistering 11-3 ATS in their last 14 road games.
While Northwestern has gone 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games overall, the Wildcats are also just 5-12 ATS in their last 17 home games and a discouraging 2-7 ATS in their last nine games following an SU loss.
I know the Home team in this longstanding rivalry has gone 5-0 ATS in the last five meetings, but the favorite in this series is 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings, making the Iowa Hawkeyes the right pick to cover the spread at the very least.
My Pick: Iowa 27 Northwestern 24