In 1932, Northwestern beat Iowa 44-6. That was the largest margin of victory for the Wildcats, and also the last time they won four consecutive games against the Hawkeyes.
Iowa faces that scenario Saturday in Evanston, as the Hawkeyes haven’t won since a 40-10 victory during the Big Ten West title season of 2015.
The Hawkeyes didn’t fall to Northwestern from 1974-1994 — winning all 21 matchups — but as Adam Rossow pointed out this week in his Rossow’s Rants column and reports from Iowa City, we’re a long way from those weak Wildcats teams now.
It’s like these two programs are each other’s spirit animal. The 4-4 record in head-to-head meetings since 2011 between the Hawks and ‘Cats is just the beginning.
Entering the 2019 season, Iowa was one win better (63-41) than Northwestern (62-41) during that eight-year span. Their conference records were identical at 38-29.
If we roll that back a little further, Kirk Ferentz is 5-8 against Pat Fitzgerald. It’s no secret that going into last week I wondered if Jeff Brohm had the Hawkeyes figured out with his 2-0 start in the series, but when you consider Northwestern’s place in the traditional hierarchy, it’s Fitz that gives Ferentz fits.
In that span, six of the Iowa losses have been by single digits and the other two were by 11 and 14.
So they’re of the painful variety, while two of the Hawkeyes’ five wins were by 30 or more.
But 17 seems to be Iowa’s magic number in this series. In four out of the five games they’ve surpassed that total, they’ve won, and in three of those scored more than 40 while doing it.
A running theme of this column this year has been the Hawkeyes’ place in college football.
It seems the Hawkeyes are solidly in the “above average Big Ten team” camp. Like I said last week, good and sometimes very good. The Wildcats, although 1-5 this year, are still the reigning Big Ten West champions. They’re far from the overachievers they are still perceived to be when they win, and they are literally neck and neck with the Hawkeyes in recent years.
The biggest problem I see is that this is the type of season — and let’s be honest, if 2009 can be then any year can — that Northwestern earns the honor of Iowa’s bad loss. There’s usually one. So far we’re still waiting for it.
Let’s see if the experts think this is it. I suspect they won’t.
Once again, we are thrilled to have our predictions on Hawkeye Headquarters brought to you by Draft Day Sports Lounge inside Rhythm City Casino, “where you can grab a bite and make live bets!”
The Hawkeyes’ all-time leader in receptions is back for a third season of picks.
Kevonte Martin-Manley: Iowa 30, Northwestern 10
Steve Batterson: Iowa 22, Northwestern 10. Iowa’s struggles on offense are minuscule compared to the issues Northwestern has yet to overcome so far this season. The Wildcats match the Hawkeyes’ production on the ground nearly yard for yard – 152 to 149 per game on average – but a 47-percent completion rate in the passing game and instability at quarterback leaves Northwestern where it is, trying to dig its way out of a four-game losing streak. As long as Nate Stanley can find someone to fill the void created by Brandon Smith’s injury, expect that to be difference at Ryan Field.
Steven Lassan: Iowa
Mitch Light: Iowa
Mark Ross: Iowa
Dennis Dodd: Iowa
Jerry Palm: Iowa
Tom Fornelli: Iowa
Chip Patterson: Iowa
Barton Simmons: Iowa
Barrett Sallee: Iowa
Ben Kercheval: Iowa
Iowa 29, Northwestern 28
David Kenyon: Iowa 26, Northwestern 14
Ralph D. Russo: Iowa 21, Northwestern 7
Bill Bender: Iowa 27, Northwestern 14
Bill Connelly: Iowa 25, Northwestern 12
Chad Leistikow: Iowa 26, Northwestern 17
Go Iowa Awesome
Mark Hasty: Iowa 20, Northwestern 10
Black Heart Gold Pants
JPinIC: Iowa 17, Northwestern 13
Jerry Scherwin: Iowa 42, Northwestern 6
Tnels20: Iowa 20, Northwestern 13
Matt Cabel: Iowa 9, Northwestern 6
BoilerHawk: Northwestern 9, Iowa 7
Benjamin Ross: Iowa 17, Northwestern 13
Doug Saye: Iowa 30, Northwestern 12
Matt Reisener: Iowa 13, Northwestern 3
DC: Iowa 12 , Northwestern 0
Adam Hensley: Iowa 24, Northwestern 10
Cody Hills: Iowa 16, Northwestern 7.
And finally, the totally irrelevant prediction based on playing EA Sports’ NCAA Football 2004 on a PS2, as is the tradition since 2015.
Ryan Jaster: Iowa 16, Northwestern 7. The Hawkeyes drive to the 7 before fumbling, setting up a really odd CPU playcall from Northwestern — that netted one yard. After a scoreless first quarter, the Hawkeyes finally strike first with a 4-yard touchdown run set up by a 38-yard pass with under a minute left in the half. The Wildcats drop a 41-yard pass in the end zone as time expires before the break. Northwestern eventually finds the end zone, but three field goals by the Hawkeyes keep them at a safe distance.
Prognosis: I was all set to write about a close Iowa win here, and then Cody Hills’ highly relevant #IowaSim19 predicted the exact same score as my totally irrelevant prediction: 16-7. We’ve both been doing this since at least 2015, and I’m pretty sure that’s the first time that’s happened. Since this year he’s collecting money for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, I made a donation to his cause and promised to raise it to $167 if we end up correct and the game actually ends in a score of 16-7. While my gimmick is plugging-and-playing a 16-year-old video game as-is on a PS2, I respect that Cody updates his rosters, sliders and conditions to make his sim as authentic as possible.
The respect is also mutual between Ferentz and Fitzgerald, even if randomly interrupted in this thread by Jim Harbaugh:
No pain is expected this week, save for one lone “black heart.“
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Ryan Jaster writes a weekly predictions column during football season for HawkeyeHQ.com and previously wrote and edited for CBS Sports, the Quad-City Times, ChicagoSports.com and the Chicago Tribune. You can follow his Hawkeye musings at @Hawkologist.