Instant Reaction: Hawkeyes survive, and head into the bye week
EVANSTON, Ill. — Really, did you expect anything different?
Iowa's 20-0 win over Northwestern at Ryan Field on Saturday was a cold, rainy mess.
It was completely predictable, and that was OK with Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. The Hawkeyes snapped a three-game losing streak to the Wildcats, who didn't have the offensive teeth for this game.
It was going to be low-scoring — the over-under was at 36 1/2 at game time — because Iowa's defense has been so stingy and Northwestern's offense has been so feeble.
The Hawkeyes did just enough to win to head into the bye week. This was never going to be a game about style points — it was going to be win, stay healthy, and go home.
There were more injuries during the week — guard Justin Britt and tight end Nate Wieting were inactive for this game — but with time off this week, the Hawkeyes can get healthy.
Saturday was about survival, and the Hawkeyes did that. Iowa's offense had enough big plays to overcome the sporadic sputtering.
Tyrone Tracy, who stepped into Brandon Smith's starting role, spun away from a tackler in the first quarter and turned a Nate Stanley pass into a touchdown.
And other than a Keith Duncan field goal in the second quarter, that was it for Iowa's offense in the first half.
The Hawkeyes were about controlling the clock, and they did that on a 13-play, 59-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter. That possession included an 11-yard pass from Stanley to tight end Shaun Beyer on fourth-and-8 that included a big block from Tracy.
Stanley and Tracy would connect on a 38-yard pass in the fourth quarter to set up Duncan's second field goal of the game.
From that point, it was about getting on the bus and going home to a week off. Wisconsin and Minnesota await after next week, with the Hawkeyes' Big Ten West Division hopes hanging on those games.