Final: Iowa 41, Northwestern 31
October, 15, 2011
By Brian Bennett | ESPN.com
The purple reign over Iowa has come to an end.
The Hawkeyes -- who saw their own series dominance over Penn State get reversed last week -- finally got over their Northwestern hump, and with some gusto. Iowa exploited the ever shaky Wildcats defense in a 41-31 win at home.
It was a key win for the Hawkeyes, who could not afford to get off to an 0-2 start in Big Ten. While the loss at Penn State still stings, Iowa does control its destiny in the Legends Division.
For a while it looked like Northwestern was going to make things very interesting. Iowa's 17-7 halftime lead was quickly erased in the third quarter. But Kirk Ferentz's team exerted its will over the final quarter and a half. Marcus Coker ran for 113 yards and two touchdowns behind a line that controlled the action up front. When Coker wasn't pounding it out on the ground, James Vandenberg was going over the top for big strikes. He threw for 224 yards and two scores, including one to Marvin McNutt, who tied the school record for career touchdown catches. The offense was far more balanced and efficient than last week in State College, when it managed a measly three points.
Iowa's secondary also came up with some big plays, including Tanner Miller's 98-yard pick six and a second-half forced fumble that led to a score. The Hawkeyes defense still has its issues, but it was good enough in this one.
It was the same old story Northwestern, which couldn't get enough big stops on defense and couldn't keep a consistent flow going on offense. The Wildcats have given up at least 38 points in all three conference games, and that's no way to win in this league. They have now lost four straight and are 0-3 in the Big Ten for the first time since 2006. At 2-4 overall, Pat Fitzgerald's team now has a lot of work to do just to gain bowl eligibility. A losing season in Evanston would qualify as a major disappointment given all the excitement in the preseason over Dan Persa's Heisman campaign.
BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
11:00 AM ET Nevada Louisiana-Lafayette 2:20 PM ET Utah State UTEP 3:30 PM ET 22 Utah Colorado State 5:45 PM ET Western Michigan Air Force 9:15 PM ET South Alabama Bowling Green
6:00 PM ET Marshall Northern Illinois 9:30 PM ET Navy San Diego State
12:00 PM ET Central Michigan Western Kentucky 8:00 PM ET Fresno State Rice
1:00 PM ET Illinois Louisiana Tech 4:30 PM ET Rutgers North Carolina 8:00 PM ET North Carolina State UCF
1:00 PM ET Cincinnati Virginia Tech 2:00 PM ET 15 Arizona State Duke 3:30 PM ET Miami (FL) South Carolina 4:30 PM ET Boston College Penn State 8:00 PM ET Nebraska 24 USC
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State