Iowa Hawkeye Football Schedule Prep: Week 8 vs. Northwestern

Each Monday, we'll look ahead game by game with a brief preview of the 2024 football schedule. In Week 8, the Hawkeyes host the Northwestern Wildcats.
SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl - Utah v Northwestern
SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl - Utah v Northwestern / Zak Krill/GettyImages

In Week 8, Iowa is set to host its Homecoming week against the Northwestern Wildcats in an important Big Ten matchup.

The Wildcats are coming off an impressive 8-5 season that was capped with a 14-7 win over Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl. It was a quick turnaround for David Braun in his first year as head coach after a 1-11 season in 2022 as the Pat Fitzgerald era came to a controversial end.

The good news for Braun is that he's returning 14 starters this season. The bad news is that while his program looks for reliable places to play its home games, it's also deciding on a quarterback.

It appears Mississippi State grad transfer Mike Wright will get the job, though there are veteran, though underwhelming, options on the roster such as Ryan Hilinski and Jack Lausch. Wright's most likely competition for the job is South Dakota State transfer Mark Gronowski.

The Wildcats will have runners to lean on as their passing game comes together, particularly Cam Porter, the team's leading rusher with 651 yards and four scores last season. He's expected to share the workload with Joseph Himon II a bit more than last year.

Defensively, the Wildcats are looking to continue to improve on last year's success which included holding the opposition to 22.5 yards per game (42nd in the country) and forcing nearly two turnovers per game.

Northwestern returns most of its defensive talent on the defensive line while the secondary lost a few key pieces in the Transfer Portal. Still, the Wildcats in 2023 were much better at stopping the pass than the run, giving up 183 yards per game through the air to 157 on the ground.

That plays well into the Hawkeyes' favor, as it did last year when Iowa beat Northwester 10-7 with 104 yards on the ground. Iowa holds the advantage in the series record all-time at 53-28-3 while winning the last three games.

Northwestern is in a position to be a pesky program in the conference. They are just the kind of team that can upend a team like Iowa looking to position itself well for the postseason. Iowa is more talented on paper, but the Wildcats won't be a pushover.

Still, if the Hawkeyes are playing to a standard that matches their preseason expectations, they should add another tally to the win column after this contest.

The game is set for October 26 at 2:30 p.m. with television and streaming channels to be announced at a later date.

You can check out last week's early preview against Michigan State here.

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