The Iowa Hawkeyes are at a crossroads. The University of Iowa announced on Monday that offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz will not be returning for the 2024 season, but he will remain in his role through the end of the 2023 season.
The news comes little more than a week after Iowa suffered its second loss of the season, a home loss to rival Minnesota in a game where the Hawkeye offense managed just 10 points. The fanbase and team alike have now had a bye week to stew on the loss before turning attention to this week’s opponent.
That would be the Northwestern Wildcats, who like the Hawkeyes, have seen some transition this season after long-time head coach Pat Fitzgerald was let go earlier this year. The Wildcats are now led by defensive coordinator David Brauns and have had a bit of a rollercoaster ride to-date.
Northwestern opened their season with a disappointing loss to Rutgers, but bounced back a week later against UTEP. That’s been the theme this season with each loss followed by a win. Perhaps then it’s fortunate for the Hawkeyes that Northwestern enters the week fresh off a big 33-27 win over Maryland to move to 4-4 overall on the season and 2-3 in Big Ten play.
The Hawkeyes cannot afford to drop this or any other game the rest of the way if they hope to remain atop the Big Ten West standings come December 2nd.
Here’s a quick look at the details for Saturday’s matchup.
Date: Saturday, November 4th
Time: 2:30 pm CT
Matchup: Iowa Hawkeyes (6-2, 3-2) at Northwestern Wildcats (4-4, 2-3)
Location: Wrigley Field- Chicago IL
Preliminary Weather Forecast: cloudy with temps in the low-50s, 20% chance of rain
DraftKings Opening Line: Iowa -5, O/U 31
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
The Hawkeyes and Wildcats are set to face off for the 85th time in series history this week. Iowa holds a lead in the all-time series at 53-28-3 overall. The series dates all the way back to 1897 when the Hawkeyes won the inaugural matchup 12-6, a score which seems feasible still in 2023.
This week’s matchup will take place inside the friendly confines of Wrigley Field in Chicago, marking the first time the Hawkeyes have played in Wrigley. Iowa has only played two games all-time inside a baseball stadium, winning the most recent in 2017 when they defeated Boston College 27-20 in the Pinstripe Bowl. The only prior time came way back in 1904 when Iowa lost its only matchup with a Big Ten opponent played in a baseball stadium. That one was played at Athletic Park in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and saw the Minnesota Gophers win 11-0.
While this week’s game isn’t being played in Evanston, it’s still a de facto road game for the Hawkeyes. Iowa is 26-16-3 all-time in road games against the Wildcats.
The Hawkeyes have one the last two matchups vs Northwestern and three of the last four. Their longest winning streak in the series came from 1974 to 1994 when the Hawkeyes won 21 straight. Five of the last seven meetings between the two programs have been decided by one score or less.
Notably, Iowa is traveling to Chicago fresh off their bye. The Hawkeyes are 8-11 coming off the bye under head coach Kirk Ferentz. The Hawkeyes are 0-2 against Northwestern on the road off a bye under Ferentz.
As we move toward kickoff on Saturday afternoon, here’s a look at the preseason predictions for this one.
Staff Prediction: Iowa Win, 100% of the vote
Fan Prediction: Iowa Win, 100% of the vote
BizarroMath Prediction: Iowa 21, Northwestern 14
Be sure to check back in throughout the week as all preview and postgame stories will be published to this stream.