INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
Independence nearly matc ... »
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CHICAGO — Iowa has beaten Northwestern in each of the last three seasons, including the last two by a combined score of 88-17.
Last year the injury-depleted Hawkeyes rolled to a 40-10 win at Evanston, Ill., in a game between ranked foes. It was the Wildcats’ homecoming and the school honored the 20th anniversary of its Rose Bowl team, of which Coach Pat Fitzgerald was a member. That left a mark with the Wildcats.
“We got dominated in all three phases of the game,” Northwestern linebacker Anthony Walker said. “Defensively, offensively, special teams. We were outplayed. We didn’t respond to adversity really well in that game.
“Coming off a blowout loss to Michigan, I thought we’d respond better as a team. I thought Iowa played better, personally, but we didn’t get the job done. ... The hype was there, the buildup around it. All we had to do was go out and execute, and we didn’t get the job done. But I’m definitely looking forward to that match-up.”
The Hawkeyes outrushed Northwestern 294-51 and ran for five touchdowns.
“We were playing well enough to be competitive in that game and then, quite frankly, did not do a good job playing good team football,” Fitzgerald said. “We turned the ball over. We couldn’t move the ball offensively against a very good Iowa defense and gave up more explosive run plays in that game than any other game until we got to Tennessee (in the Outback Bowl).”
All league games matter to Walker, but losing to Iowa or Illinois stings just a tad more.
“You want to win those games,” Walker said. “Those games are rivalry games, and you want to get the job done. As a player here at Northwestern, I haven’t beaten Iowa yet. That’s definitely one I want to circle off before I finish my career here.
• Read more: The decidedly unsexy Big Ten West
“We’ll have another big stage this year at their homecoming at their field (Oct. 1), and it’s going to be a great battle. But we have to be ready.”
|For a more detailed breakdown of this game, click here.|
PLAYERS TO WATCH
The Big Ten announced its annual “Players to Watch” list on Monday. Big Ten officials do not sanction a preseason all-conference squad, just a list of five players in each division.
The East Division honorees include Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, Michigan linebacker/defensive back Jabrill Peppers and Michigan State defensive lineman Malik McDowell. The West Division honorees include Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard, Iowa cornerback Desmond King, Northwestern running back Justin Jackson, Northwestern linebacker Anthony Walker and Wisconsin running back Corey Clement.
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