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Box Score: Iowa vs. Northwestern Edition

BY JACOB SHEYKO | NOVEMBER 04, 2014 5:00 AM

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Following perhaps the lowest point of the season — at least from most fans’ perspective — the Hawkeyes put together their best performance of the season against Northwestern.

Iowa shattered every statistical precedent that Northwestern had established coming into the matchup, scoring more points than Northwestern had allowed all season and holding the Wildcats to just 7 points.

However, the coming weeks will prove if the blowout was a sign of things to come or merely a single-game illusion of greatness.

The numbers lean toward it being a sign of things to come.

Yards per attempt — Jake Rudock, 12.58

If he hadn’t already, Jake Rudock put to rest any talk of there being a dual-quarterback system on Nov. 1.

His numbers weren’t groundbreaking, mainly because Iowa’s offense was more worried with running the clock out rather than making downfield throws, but when Rudock was in, he played perhaps his best game as a Hawkeye.

Against Northwestern, he was the opposite of conservative. His 12.58 yards per pass attempt nearly doubled his season average of 6.83, which ranks eighth in the Big Ten.

This downfield action led to big plays, including three pass completions of more than 30 yards. It was the first time Rudock had done that all season.

This increase isn’t just a single-game outlier, though. Instead, it’s a trend over the course of Iowa’s four conference games.

In nonconference games, Rudock averaged 6.3 yards per attempt. In conference games, that number has jumped to 7.5 yards per attempt.

This, among others, is one of the reasons Iowa averages 37 points per game in Big Ten play, third best in the conference.

Total rushing yards — Iowa, 221 yards

Maybe the passing game opened up holes in the defense, or maybe Iowa’s offensive line outmatched the Wildcats’ defensive line.

Whatever the reason was, Iowa’s running game was at its best against Northwestern.

In all, the team rushed for 221 yards — the highest single-game total this season. Of those 221 yards, exactly 200 yards came from the running-back duo of Mark Weisman and freshman Akrum Wadley.

While they didn’t necessarily rotate handoffs, the two of them provided a nice one-two punch out of the backfield, with Weisman providing the power and Wadley providing the speed.

Wadley showed plenty of promise for big plays; he averaged 7.1 yards per carry against the Wildcats. If he can avoid turning the ball over, he should provide a nice change of pace.

It also appears as if the duo of Weisman and Wadley is here to stay. Wadley was listed as the backup running back when Iowa released its two-deep depth chart on Monday.

Tackles — John Lowdermilk, 12

If anyone knows anything about criticism, it’s John Lowdermilk. The Iowa safety has acted as the proverbial punching bag more than once this season.

Some of the criticism has been warranted. But fans should also know that nobody is tougher on Lowdermilk than himself.

On Nov. 1, no one criticized Lowdermilk, because his play was that good. Not only did he record 12 tackles, he also broke up one pass and forced a fumble. 

In most cases, a defense would prefer to have someone other than a safety leading the team in tackles, but Lowdermilk’s 12 tackles were more a result of his being involved in every play than a major hole in the defense.

He may not be the most important player on defense, but it’s no coincidence that perhaps his best game of the season happened to be one of Iowa’s defense’s best performances.

Follow @JacobSheyko on Twitter for updates, news, and analysis about the Iowa football team.


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