As the Iowa Hawkeyes and Northwestern Wildcats gear up for their Week 9 kickoff, it is a widely held belief that this game is going be a low-scoring affair with points tough to come by.
Neither offense has found sustained traction yet this season but pairing that with two defenses and programs known for physical football and you get even tougher sledding.
The Wildcats come in giving up 31 points to Maryland and 42 points to Wisconsin in their last two contests. There is susceptibility within their defense but at the end of the day, this team is still coached by Pat Fitzgerald, one of the best coaches in the conference at getting the most from his players and having them ready to play regardless of their record.
Iowa (3-4, 1-3 Big Ten) needs this one and needs to find any sort of spark on offense. They will be facing a Northwestern defense that can break at times and if they do, they will need to capitalize.
Northwestern 2022 Statistics
(AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
The Northwestern defense has not been on the level that the Iowa Hawkeyes have been on this season. Giving up a touch over 28 points per game, the Wildcats are working through defensive kinks as they give up 417 total yards per game, 96th in the nation.
Their pass defense is very solid with the 38th-best passing defense in the country. Alternatively, they are giving up 203 yards per game on the ground each week, 115th in the country.
Bryce Gallagher, LB
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
The core of the Northwestern defense is located right in the middle of it with linebacker Bryce Gallagher. The linebacker is currently leading the Wildcats with 70 total tackles and has chipped in five tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, an interception, and a fumble recovery.
As a more old-school linebacker, this downhill game against Iowa fits Gallagher well. Expect him to be in the mix constantly in the run game on Saturday.
● LB Spotlight ●
Bryce Gallagher – Northwestern
• Gallagher is the top returning Linebacker for the Wildcats. In his career he has 96 Tackles, 6 Tackles for Loss and 1 Sack. pic.twitter.com/0MPHpYlv4A
— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) August 8, 2022
Adetomiwa Adebawore , DL
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Up front, Adetomiwa Adebawore is the Wildcats’ best defensive line presence. He leads them in sacks with four and tackles for loss with 5.5.
When Iowa drops back to pass, Adebawore is the Wildcats’ biggest game-wrecker that could get home for a sack and cause pressure in the backfield.
After being pretty low on him initially (63.9/100, spot starter), I've come around on Northwestern EDGE Adetomiwa Adebawore. With more film under my belt, his athleticism has begun to pop more than I initially thought. This play vs Rutgers showcases his short area COD. pic.twitter.com/BldPijU17P
— Nick Price 🎃👻 (@PriceCheck3) August 23, 2022
Xander Mueller, LB
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Partnering in the middle with Gallagher is fellow linebacker Xander Mueller. On a defense that isn’t particularly outstanding, these two have been playing well.
Mueller is second on the team with 55 tackles but has also contributed two interceptions. With Iowa working their tight ends quite a bit, Mueller will be involved in those matchups.
NORTHWESTERN CALLS GAME
Xander Mueller with the game-sealing INT and the Wildcats pull off the upset in Dublin!🚨🚨 pic.twitter.com/jV8N9eVz84
— The Draft Network (@TheDraftNetwork) August 27, 2022
Jeremiah Lewis, DB
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
On the back end for Northwestern is defensive back Jeremiah Lewis. The redshirt senior has proven the ability to play the pass and come up in run support.
Third on the team with 44 tackles, he can make tackles. Lewis leads the Wildcats in pass breakups and is one to watch when Iowa looks to throw downfield on Saturday.
Follow Riley on Twitter: @rileydonald7
Let us know your thoughts, comment on this story below. Join the conversation today.