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Iowa Football: Are the Hawkeyes Back on Track After Northwestern Win?

With just three games remaining, Iowa holds a one game lead in the Big Ten West.

Iowa v Northwestern
Drew Stevens saved the day.
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

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The Iowa Hawkeyes did it once again. After having victory snatched away from them against Minnesota, the Hawkeyes again managed to be within striking distance of a win in the final minutes in last week’s matchup with Northwestern despite virtually no offense to speak of through three plus quarters.

This time, however, Deacon Hill was able to connect with transfer WR Kaleb Brown on a critical 23-yard completion to move Iowa into field goal range. For the first time in a long time, the offense did something to set up the special teams (and there’s even a twisted angle where they bailed out the special teams after Tory Taylor had a particularly bad punt to set up the game-tying score in the fourth quarter - but that would ignore ** gestures broadly at the Iowa offensive disaster **) and Drew Stevens did the rest.

In many ways, it was a Kirk Ferentz dream. Iowa never trailed and didn’t really need the offense except for the one play down the stretch. Deacon Hill did turn the ball over once (and nearly did a second time for what would have been his third fumble lost in two games and his SIXTH turnover in that stretch) so the Hawkeyes lost the turnover battle, but the defense did what it always does and that was suffocate the opponent.

The win kept Iowa atop the Big Ten West. More notably, Wisconsin managed to lose to Indiana on Saturday while Minnesota lost to Illinois and Nebraska stubbed their toe against Michigan State.

Which is to say that while Iowa’s offense continues to boggle the mind, nobody in contention for the West managed to win besides the Hawkeyes. The result? Iowa is a full game ahead of everyone else in the West. They hold the tiebreaker over Wisconsin and Minnesota travels to Ohio State in week 12. Meaning if Iowa loses either of their next two games, they will remain in first place and ahead of both Minnesota (OK, sure, if they beat Ohio State just give Minnesota the West - not happening) and Wisconsin entering a Black Friday showdown with Nebraska.

So that begs the question: did Saturday’s win all but lock in the Hawkeye’s return to Indianapolis? Iowa fans were pretty confident the Hawkeyes were Indy bound when we asked ahead of the Minnesota matchup, but that loss seemed to derail things quite a bit. Are we back on course?

And as usual, we want to know how you’re feeling about this week’s matchup. The Hawkeyes are poised to host Rutgers on Saturday in a game where they’re favored by just 1.5 points and DraftKings has set the over/under at a ridiculous 29.5 total points.

Let us know how you see this one playing out in the comments below!