Iowa knows not to look past Northwestern
If there’s one team that’s been trouble for Iowa the past few
years, Northwestern would certainly qualify.
The Wildcats have won two straight and four of five in the
So Iowa is trying to forget about next week’s game against Ohio
State. Never mind the Big Ten championship implications it could
carry. None of that will matter if the 13th-ranked Hawkeyes stumble
at Northwestern on Saturday.
”Northwestern has our number, kind of like how we have Penn
State’s number,” tight end Allen Reisner said. ”I mean, it’s just
one of those things that’s happened and we’ve got turn that around
Last year’s 17-10 loss was particularly painful for the
Not only did Iowa see its 9-0 start and national championship
hopes go by the wayside, it lost quarterback Ricky Stanzi to an
ankle injury. He missed the final two regular-season games,
including a loss to Ohio State the following week, before throwing
for 231 yards in a win over Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
A year earlier, the Wildcats rallied from 14 down and hung on to
win 22-17 after Stanzi led Iowa to the 8-yard line late in the
game. Three straight incompletions followed and then defensive
lineman Quentin Davie knocked Stanzi’s fourth-down pass to the turf
to seal the victory for Northwestern.
If Iowa (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten) were looking for some payback on
Saturday, that would be perfectly understandable. But Stanzi
insisted that’s not the case.
”I haven’t really thought about revenge or anything like that.
That’s just not how I operate,” he said.
The Hawkeyes are one of four teams with one loss in conference
play and are tied with Ohio State and Wisconsin for second place, a
half game behind Michigan State. If they get by Northwestern (6-3,
2-3) and the Buckeyes, they would be in good position to claim at
least a share of their first Big Ten title in six years since they
finish with last-place Minnesota.
Then again, Iowa barely escaped with an 18-13 victory at Indiana
Stanzi threw a 52-yard go-ahead touchdown pass to Marvin McNutt
with 2:50 left, and the Hawkeyes still needed a dropped pass and a
replay confirmation after Ben Chappell led Indiana back down the
field to the 18. On fourth-and-10, Damarlo Belcher appeared to grab
and then drop what would have been a TD pass with 28 seconds left.
Hoosiers fans roared thinking he had scored, but replays showed he
never had control of the ball.
Iowa exhaled, knowing it was still in the hunt for a conference
championship and Rose Bowl berth. Farther east, Northwestern was
staggering away after a 35-21 collapse at Penn State.
The Wildcats scored the first 21 points, but by the end of the
game, Joe Paterno was celebrating his 400th win.
”We need to play better, execute better, coach better
collectively to give ourselves an opportunity,” coach Pat
They need to figure out a way to contain Stanzi, has thrown for
2,212 yards with 20 touchdowns and only three interceptions, along
with a talented group of running backs. Adam Robinson (apparent
head injury), Jewel Hampton (knee) and Brandon Wegher (personal
reasons) all missed last week’s game. But Marcus Coker ran for 129
yards in his first career start, and he figures to back up Robinson
Iowa has to contend with Dan Persa, who has completed at least
70 percent of his passes in six games and ran for a career-high 109
yards and two touchdowns against Penn State. If the Hawkeyes do
that, maybe they’ll stop this recent slide against
”It’s not a smoke-and-mirror operation,” Iowa coach Kirk
Ferentz said. ”They are good football players that play well. They
are well coached. I mean, you look at our two games, they have done
the things you’re supposed to do.”