No. 5 Northwestern 31, Iowa 20
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) _ Northwestern beat the cold and withstood a strong effort by Iowa to subdue the Hawkeyes 31-20 Saturday, giving the fifth-ranked Wildcats the school’s first nine-win season since 1903.
Northwestern (9-1, 7-0 Big Ten) kept in the running for the Rose Bowl by pitching a second-half shutout at the determined Hawkeyes and getting another punishing performance from sophomore tailback Darnell Autry, who hit 100 yards for the 11th straight game.
Northwestern went 9-2-3 back in 1903 when opponents included North Division High School, Chicago Dental and Notre Dame.
Northwestern, winning its eighth straight game, also ended a 21-game stretch of futility against Iowa, beating the Hawkeyes for the first time since 1973 on a frigid day at Dyche Stadium.
The game-time temperature was 26 degrees with a 1-degree wind chill and wind gusting at 30 mph. Plows had to roll a slight snow cover off the artificial turf before the game.
Northwestern, trailing 20-17 at the half, regained the lead with a quick 69-yard drive to begin the third quarter and then finally iced the win when Hudhaifa Ismaeli scooped up a fumble by Iowa tight end Derek Price, after a hit by Rodney Ray, and ran it in 31 yards for a touchdown with 2:56 left.
The Wildcats had to play the fourth quarter without linebacker Pat Fitzgerald, the Big Ten’s leading tackler, who was injured at the end of the third quarter. The initial report was a sprained ankle.
Autry’s 3-yard touchdown run capped the drive opening the second half, which also featured a 22-yard pass from Steve Schnur to D’Wayne Bates and a 16-yard carry on a reverse by Bates. Autry finished with 110 yards on 32 carries.
Iowa (5-4, 2-4) then ate up the rest of the quarter with an 18-play drive that started at its 18 and ended at the Wildcats 30. Hawkeyes quarterback Matt Sherman slipped for a loss on third down and then threw incomplete on fourth down.
Sedrick Shaw gained 135 yards on 38 carries to go over 1,000 yards and become Iowa’s career rushing leader. He had 93 yards on 26 carries in the first half.
Iowa took a 20-17 halftime lead when Scott Slutzker grabbed a fourth-and-4 pass and dragged Northwestern’s Eric Collier into the end zone for a 39-yard touchdown with 1:31 left in the half. But the Hawkeyes’ Zach Bromert missed the extra point attempt, leaving Northwestern within a field goal.
Northwestern fell behind 14-3 when Iowa’s Tom Knight picked off a pass that deflected off the Wildcats’ Matt Hartl and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown with 8:25 left in the second quarter.
Northwestern scored twice in the span of 1 minute, 39 seconds to take the lead.
Autry, bottled up most of the half, went for 27 yards and the Wildcats moved 70 yards with Darren Drexler catching a fourth-down pass from Schnur and taking it 21 yards to make it 14-10.
Iowa was stopped, punted and Brian Musso fielded the kick, made an initial fake and then broke free for a 60-yard touchdown, putting the Wildcats ahead 17-14.
Iowa, cheered by a large contingent of bundled-up fans, regained the lead with an 80-yard drive, its second of the half, in eight plays.
Shaw carried 14 times for 54 yards on Iowa’s first scoring drive, capping it with a 1-yard run for the touchdown.
Northwestern cut it to 7-3 when Brian Gowins hit a 50-yard field goal.
Iowa lost linebacker Eric Hilgenberg to a knee injury in the first half and fullback Rodney Filer was hurt on the game’s first scrimmage play.