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At the half: Hawkeyes on top 17-7

10/15/2011

Northwestern won't have to worry about blowing a big lead for the third consecutive game.

Instead, the Wildcats will have to dig out of a big hole to continue their mastery of Iowa.

The Hawkeyes lead 17-7 at halftime as they look for their first Big Ten win and their first victory against Northwestern since 2007. Although Iowa has made fewer mistakes and moved the ball at times, Northwestern has dominated the box score, holding edges in total yards (213-177), first downs (13-6) and possession time (20:58-9:02).

Iowa is winning the game because of a huge momentum-turning play late in the first quarter. With Northwestern in the red zone poised to tie or take the lead, Wildcats quarterback Dan Persa made a terrible decision while being sacked. Iowa safety Tanner Miller picked off Persa's fluttering pass and raced 98 yards for a touchdown, completing a swing of 10-14 points.

The Hawkeyes have received good performances from running back Marcus Coker (7 carries, 58 yards) and receiver Keenan Davis (91 receiving yards, 47-yard TD), and quarterback James Vandenberg has looked solid aside from one throw. Iowa can attack Northwestern's suspect secondary, but it needs the ball more in the second half and must stop Northwestern on third down (Wildcats have converted 8 of 12 attempts).

It should be a fun second half in Iowa City.