IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The frustrating 2016 season for the Hawkeyes took another dark turn on Saturday as Iowa was unable to slow down Northwestern's offensive attack and lost at home in a high scoring affair, 38-31.
The Wildcats, behind running back Justin Jackson and wide receiver Austin Carr, moved the ball up and down the field against a Hawkeye defense that showed little resistance throughout the game. Jackson ran the ball 26 times for 171 yards and a score, and Carr posted six catches for 73 yards and three touchdowns.
The Hawkeye offense, to their credit, continued to fight and didn't go away Saturday even as the Wildcats consistently put points up on the board. However, as Iowa was down 38-31 with two minutes left, a final drive to tie the game fell short when quarterback C.J. Beathard threw an interception to Trae Williams.
“Every week is a different story, a different adventure,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It’s been that way historically. We’re trying to shape our identity. We’ve had an injury or two so that modifies things but it’s going to be a work in progress and that’s what will confront us the next six days.”
Beathard completed 19-of-27 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown on the day to go along with the late pick while Riley McCarron stepped up admirably for injured wide receiver Matt VandeBerg and reeled in eight catches for 71 yards and a touchdown. Akrum Wadley also scored two rushing touchdowns for Iowa after posting four in last year's meeting between the schools.
This year's matchup, which turned out much differently than the 40-10 blowout Iowa had against Northwestern in 2015, was largely due to failures by the defense as Iowa (3-2, 1-1) has now lost two straight games at Kinnick Stadium despite being heavily favored in both matchups and winning nine in a row in Iowa City previously.
“The small things, I think that’s the biggest thing we are lacking in right now and doing the detailed things every day, in and out,” Iowa linebacker Josey Jewell said. “Just being consistent is the biggest thing we need to improve on. If we can be consistent and a detailed-oriented team, I think we can win a lot more than we are now.”
The growing frustration with several questionable calls by the referees combined with another disheartening effort from Iowa prompted the Hawkeye fan base to even throw water bottles and other garbage on the field early in the fourth quarter.
“There are flashes of us doing well on both sides of the ball and special teams but we need to start doing it every drive,” McCarron said.
Next Saturday, the Hawkeyes hope to pick up the pieces as they travel to Minnesota to face the Golden Gophers at 11 a.m.