Iowa, Northwestern clash looking to end losing streaks

At Northwestern, fans are wondering why second-year defensive coordinator Jim O’Neill hasn’t been cut loose. At Iowa, fans are wondering why sixth-year offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz still has a job.

At both places, fans are wondering when their favorites will win a game again, but luckily one side will prevail on Saturday when the Wildcats and Hawkeyes meet in Iowa City, Iowa.

“Losing doesn’t feel good,” said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, Brian’s father. “It affects you. There’s nothing good about it. … Hopefully everyone involved in this organization is tired of losing. It’s just not fun.”

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald shared the same sentiments.

“I apologize to all of our fans — our record isn’t where we want it to be,” Fitzgerald said. “What, have we lost four one-score games and one game that could have easily gone our way if we had made a few more plays down the stretch? That eats at nobody more than me. I mean, it eats at me like you wouldn’t believe.”

The good news about the Wildcats’ visit to Iowa is that Northwestern (1-6, 1-3 Big Ten) will cast aside its six-game losing streak, or the Hawkeyes (3-4, 1-3) will shed their three-game skid.

One thing seems certain: Neither team will score a lot of points.

Iowa ranks last nationally in total yards per game (227.3) and 128th out of 131 FBS teams with 14.0 points per game. Northwestern stands next-to-last in the Big Ten and 118th nationally with 18.6 points per game.

In an effort to find more production, both coaches have tinkered with their quarterback situation. Last week, Brendan Sullivan made his first start for Northwestern in a 31-24 loss to Maryland and completed 18 of 24 passes for 143 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions while also rushing for 53 yards and a score.

Iowa has turned this week’s practices into a competition between senior Spencer Petras and junior Alex Padilla, who made his first appearance this season during last week’s 54-10 loss at No. 2 Ohio State.

“We haven’t made a decision yet — I’m not sure when we will,” Kirk Ferentz said. “We’ll let both guys work with the 1s, rotating them in and out and playing that out and making a decision here during the week, kind of going from there.”

Northwestern has won its last three visits to Kinnick Stadium (2020, 2018 and 2016), but hasn’t won on North American soil since Oct. 16, 2021, versus Rutgers. The Wildcats have dropped 12 of their last 13 games overall, with the exception being their comeback victory over Nebraska on Aug. 27 in Dublin, Ireland.

–Field Level Media