Northwestern was AWFUL. Hunter Johnson was a disaster, there was no running game, and despite the low-scoring battle, the defense couldn’t seem to wrap up and tackle. But it’s Northwestern – of course it’s going to be deep in the mix for the Big Ten West title again. As brutal as it was, there were still chances late to pull this off. Last year, the Cats won ugly. Stanford won uglier.
Hunter Johnson completed 6-of-17 passes for 55 yards and two picks, and lost a fumble on the final drive for a touchdown. He couldn’t make anything happen, but he was also under a whole lot of pressure. TJ Green wasn’t any better, completing 6-of-10 passes for 62 yards before getting banged up. The O lost RB Isaiah Bowser, too.
The Wildcats only had the ball for 22 minutes, turned it over four times, and was outgunned 365 yards to 212, and it was STILL never out of it. As bad as this looked, and as horrible as the offense was, the Northwestern style still works. Stanford might just be that good.
It took a while to get going. The Hawkeyes couldn’t seem to find any groove in the first half, but it simply looked like a case of the Week Ones – it was all fine in the second half. The Iowa lines dominated MU from the start, with the ground attack averaging over five yards per carry.
Nate Stanley was efficient and solid. There wasn’t any reason to take any major chances, and he didn’t, completing 21-of-30 passes for 252 yards and three score. It was Mekhi Sargent’s day, leading the team with 65 receiving yards to go along with his 91 yards and a score on the ground.
Miami wasn’t going anywhere. The Hawkeyes were able to overcome the sluggishness with third down stop after third down stop – the RedHawks couldn’t run the ball a lick. It would be nice to get more pressure behind the line, but Iowa held MU to 245 total yards.
It was hardly a perfect performance, but it was more than good enough. The defense stepped it up in the second half, the game was more lopsided than the final score, and there weren’t any major issues to be concerned about.
You wanted offensive balance? The sped-up offense was able to crank up 220 passing yards and three touchdowns – Shea Patterson was just fine – and the ground game came up with 233 yards and over five yards per pop, helped by Dylan McCaffrey coming in and showing a different look. Again, it wasn’t a razor-sharp performance, but that needs to come against Army before dealing with Wisconsin.
How did the defense overcome the key losses? For a week, the D was fine, but it’s not the same killer of last year. Khaleke Hudson was all over the place in the Viper role, but it was Jordan Glasgow who did more to get behind the line with two sacks. The D allowed too many midrange throws, but a bulk of Middle Tennessee’s 301 yards came late when the game was out of hand.