NCAA Football Iowa HawkeyesNorthwestern Wildcats

Big Ten Rebound Game of the Week: Northwestern vs. Iowa

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

This week, the Northwestern Wildcats are visiting Iowa City for a must-win game for both the Wildcats and the host Iowa Hawkeyes.

Shockingly to many, the Wildcats will be entering Kinnick Stadium on Saturday winless in the Big TenThe Wildcats have dropped two very difficult games to the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Wisconsin Badgers before dropping a shocker at home to the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who were without their head coach Jerry Kill. 

The Wildcats seem to be out of the BCS, as well as a run for a Big Ten championship this season. Still, their head coach’s name has been speculated as a potential prospect for the opening at USC next season. The Wildcats would love to win out this season to potentially win over Fitzgerald, or at least send him out on a high note with a good bowl appearance.

For the Hawkeyes, the season started off with a disappointing loss before coach Kirk Ferentz‘s squad put together four straight wins. The Hawkeyes then dropped two games in Big Ten play to the most dominant Big Ten defense, the Michigan State Spartans, and a heartbreaking game which saw the Hawkeyes give the Buckeyes all they could handle in the Horseshoe before Ohio State came out victorious.

Both teams are coming off a heartbreaking loss and are in desperate need of this victory. Despite what many would believe is an abundance of talent amassed in the Wildcats’ ranks, the slight edge should be given to the Hawkeyes in this week’s game. The edge is not just because the Wildcats will be emasculated by the pink dressing room that they will be dressing in at Kinnick stadium — it is the fact that they will be emasculated by the power of the Iowa rushing attack.

Iowa running back Mark Weisman started off the season averaging five yards a carry, and he has proven not to be a fluke. Yes, Weisman has faced two very good defenses in successive weeks, but he may find more success this week than he did against the Spartans and Buckeyes.

Weisman is a physical between-the-tackles runner who converted from fullback to tailback to find much success as a Hawkeyes player. The Wildcats lack the size upfront that would be useful in slowing down Weisman’s style of running.

Also, Hawkeyes running back Damon Bullock has come on as the season has progressed, relieving some of the burden placed on Weisman’s broad shoulders. This one-two attack could prove to wear down a Wildcats defense that has truly had the wind taken out of its sails. Quarterback Jake Rudock has also proven to be a serviceable signal-caller, getting things done with both his feet and his arm.

Sadly, this game may be the nail in the coffin for a Wildcats season that just never materialized. They played the Buckeyes so well, only to lose to a team that in the end just had too much talent for the Wildcats to contain. On the bright side for the Hawkeyes, this could be a signature win early in the season that propels them to better things in 2013.