The Northwestern Wildcats ended Iowa's winning steak and perfect season today with a 17-10 victory in Iowa City.
Most Hawkeye fans hate the Wildcats, but Iowa plays no-excuse-football and Northwestern won today's game fair and square.
Iowa didn't lose this game because of a Sports Illustrated curse. They didn't lose because of bogus calls by referees or overturned calls by replay officials. And they didn't lose because Ashton and Demi were in attendance.
Iowa lost because the Northwestern defense prevented them from doing anything on offense at all.
The Wildcats stopped the Hawkeyes from their usual big play antics, and forced a few key turnovers. Northwestern capitalized on Iowa mistakes and their defense prevented Iowa from getting back into the game like they have so many times before.
Northwestern came through in this game when it needed to, providing further evidence that Pat Fitzgerald might have Kirk Ferentz figured out.
Iowa had 11 turnovers in the first seven games of the season. In their last two games they have nearly matched that total, with 10 turnovers.
Against Indiana, Iowa committed five interceptions and a fumble. The Hawkeyes committed four in today's game, and Northwestern made the most of those by scoring two touchdowns.
One of those touchdowns came off of the Ricky Stanzi's fumble in the endzone. Adding insult to injury, the same play also forced Stanzi to the sidelines with a high ankle sprain, likely sidelining him for the remainder of the regular season .
Coming into this game, red-shirt freshman James Vanderberg only had three pass attempts on the year. Vanderberg struggled to connect with his receivers, forcing Iowa to run the ball. With Vanderberg in the game for Iowa, Northwestern knew to expect the rushing attack.
The Wildcats held the Hawkeyes to only 65 yards rushing, Iowa's lowest rushing total on the season. True freshman Brandon Wegher was unable to muster any rushing momentum.
Northwestern's Corey Wootton stepped up big in his first game back from injury. His sack of Stanzi forced the fumble in the end-zone that led to the momentum swinging to the Wildcats.
Iowa's defense put on a good performance, holding Northwestern to only 239 total yards. The defensive line put pressure on both of Northwestern's quarterbacks, and the secondary added another interception to their total.
Unfortunately, the defense was unable to put up points this week, which is what they needed to do in order for the Hawkeyes to come back from behind for the ninth time this season.
Iowa has two Big Ten games left, one at Ohio State and one at home against Minnesota. In order to stay in the chase for a conference title, they have a laundry list of injuries to heal and a game plan to figure out.
The road ahead won't be easy for the Hawkeyes.
This article is also featured on IowaHawkeyes.Net , a nerd's blog dedicated to all that is Hawkeye.