The Hawkeyes offense looked better in the win over Purdue, but it’s still far from being consistent. Now it’s without Brandon Smith. Iowa’s leading receiver out with an injury, leaving a huge void in that receiving corps as the Hawks travel to take on Northwestern.

Mekhi Sargent, Iowa junior running back: “Ever since I’ve known Brandon, he’s been a hard worker and a very humble person. You know, it’s hard to find guys like that, hard to find leaders like that. He’s just a one-of-a-kind receiver. He has his own unique abilities. Brandon is gonna go up and make a play.”

Kirk Ferentz, Iowa head coach: “It’s taken one of our better threats off the field. They kind of experienced the same thing, lost one of their good receivers as couple weeks back. That’s part of football. We’ve gone through it already this season in a couple spots. You just make adjustments and keep playing.”

Nate Stanley, Iowa senior quarterback: “We have a lot of reps from the offseason, from the summer. We have a lot of work invested into it, you know, no matter who is out on the field I know that they’ve put in the time. You know, we feel confident that whoever is out there on the field is gonna make plays for us.”

Smith had also emerged as a big-play threat for this offense over the last month. The junior receiver with four catches of 30 yards or more in each of the last four games — an element the Hawkeyes offense is desperate to replace.

Wide receiver Brandon Smith #12 of the Iowa Hawkeyes rushes up field during the first half against cornerback John Reid #29 of the Penn State Nittany Lions on October 12, 2019 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)