Iowa, Northwestern try to get offenses going at Wrigley Field

Field Level Media

October 31, 2023 at 8:09 pm.

Iowa’s game at Northwestern on Saturday at Chicago’s Wrigley Field suddenly has more intrigue in the Big Ten West race than perhaps originally expected.

The Hawkeyes (6-2, 3-2) were off last week and have had a couple of weeks to stew over their second loss of the season, a 12-10 defeat at home to Minnesota on Oct. 21.

Iowa amassed just 127 yards of total offense and 11 yards rushing, although offensive ineptitude is nothing new for a team that has just 71 points in its last five games.

Unlike in other games, the Hawkeyes’ defense and special teams couldn’t overcome the offensive struggles against Minnesota, and Iowa now finds itself in a four-way tie atop the West.

On Monday, it was announced that maligned offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, son of head coach Kirk Ferentz, would not return in 2024, although he will finish the 2023 season.

Kirk Ferentz didn’t delve much into that situation at his weekly press conference, saying his focus is on the final four games of the regular season.

“They are showing improvement week to week,” he said of Northwestern. “I think they are gaining momentum and playing with good confidence.”

Northwestern (4-4, 2-3) trails the four-team pack by one game in the West. The Wildcats are coming off a 33-27 win at home last Saturday against Maryland thanks in large part to quarterback Brendan Sullivan.

Making just his third start, Sullivan passed for 265 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 56 yards to lead the Wildcats.

Northwestern interim coach David Braun said Sullivan will have to be extra careful to avoid turnovers against a stout Iowa defense.

“We’ll all be challenged in so many ways,” Braun said. “This defense is a model for consistency. It’s impressive.”

The over/under for the game opened at 29.5, which is the lowest in college football history.

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