The Hawkeyes have three games left. They need to win all three to keep alive any hope of winning the Big Ten West Division.
They have to hope for a lot of other stuff, mainly two losses from Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin. That’s the dreamer’s chance.
Iowa's (6-3, 3-3 Big Ten) reality is Northwestern (5-4, 5-1) on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium. The Wildcats finish at Minnesota and with a rivalry game against Illinois. Minnesota is 1-5 in the last six weeks; Illinois is 2-5 in the last seven.
Northwestern is tracking toward its first Big Ten championship game appearance. The Hawkeyes, however, opened as a 10-point favorite.
So, it should be interesting Saturday at Kinnick as the Hawkeyes try to rebound from back-to-back losses for the first time in nine games.
Iowa has made it this far with basically 2 1/2 running backs. That number probably stays at 2 1/2 this week. Sophomore Ivory Kelly-Martin injured an ankle in last weekend’s loss at Purdue. He rushed 10 times for 39 yards before leaving the game in the second half.
Kelly-Martin has missed three games this season with ankle injuries and a concussion. Sophomore Toren Young remains Iowa’s leading rusher with 466 yards. He carried nine times for 45 yards against the Boilermakers.
Sophomore Mekhi Sargent seems to have inched ahead in terms of production. He also had 10 carries for 39 yards and two TDs. He also had four receptions for 33 yards. Sargent played 34 snaps to 15 for Young.
Fullback Brady Ross remains out with a left leg injury. Austin Kelly has filled in the last few weeks. Also, guard Dalton Ferguson didn’t play last week. He was replaced by Cole Banwart. Junior Levi Paulsen also saw some snaps at guard.
— At cornerback, head coach Kirk Ferentz said in the postgame that competition will continue at the position. Freshmen Julius Brents and Riley Moss started last week. Brents saw 64 snaps; Moss 49. Junior Michael Ojemudia replaced Moss late and ended up with 20 snaps between dime defense and cornerback.
— Middle linebacker Jack Hockaday played 62 snaps. Junior Kristian Welch replaced him on passing downs, seeing action in four snaps.
Iowa again went with safety Amani Hooker at the star position for most of the game, meaning the Hawkeyes spent the majority of last week in nickel defense. Outside linebacker Nick Niemann was in for seven snaps.
— The networks have chosen to use the second of their allotted six-day selections for the games of Nov. 17. Times and network designations for these games will be distributed late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.
Iowa travels to Illinois next weekend.
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