Recap: With Alex Padilla at quarterback, Iowa football holds off Northwestern, 17-12

Alyssa Hertel
Hawk Central

Less than a month ago, Iowa was the No. 2 team in the nation. The Hawkeyes started the season with a six-game win streak, capped by their victory over a top-five Penn State program.

But it's been downhill ever since. Iowa has since slipped to No. 19 in the rankings and recorded a two-game losing streak ahead of Saturday's game. The Hawkeyes need a win, desperately, and Northwestern might just be the team to help them get back on track.

Iowa (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) is the 10.5-point favorite over Northwestern (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten). The Hawkeyes also hold a 51-28-3 series advantage against the Wildcats.

Iowa Hawkeyes running back Tyler Goodson (15) rushes with the football during the third quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis.

Northwestern picked up the most recent win last season, when the Wildcats handed the Hawkeyes one of two losses in 2020 after staging a 21-point comeback to beat Iowa 21-20 in Iowa City. This time, Northwestern has the home field advantage. 

For Iowa to pull off a win, the Hawkeyes will need its defense to return to what it was at the beginning of the season and its leadership core to step up

Postgame: Ferentz on Padilla decision

Postgame: Padilla on working with Johnson and Bruce

Postgame: Padilla sharing the credit

Postgame: Goodson on Petras injury

FINAL: Iowa 17, Northwestern 12

Iowa held off Northwestern's late fourth quarter surge to end its losing streak at two games. The Hawkeyes improve to 7-2 (4-2 Big Ten) on the season and will face Minnesota at home next weekend.

1:44/Q4: Belton picks off Marty

Iowa's Dane Belton picked off Marty - again - and the Hawkeyes will take a couple knees to secure the victory. 

2:21/Q4: Wildcats find the end zone — Iowa 17, Northwestern 12

Evan Hull ran in a 31-yard reception from Marty to give Northwestern its first touchdown. The Wildcats attempt a two-point conversion, but it's no good and Iowa holds a five-point lead late in the fourth quarter.

8:02/Q4: Harris picks off Marty

After few good plays, Marty threw a deep pass into the end zone, intended for J.J. Jefferson. But instead, it ended up in the hands of Jermari Harris and Iowa will take over at the 20-yard line after the touchback.

11:20/Q4: Iowa still up by 11 points

We wish there was more to update on, but it's been punt after punt on the past few drives. Both defenses are playing well right now, and Northwestern has the ball on the 15-yard line after another Taylor punt.

1:58/Q3: Wildcats settle for another three — Iowa 17, Northwestern 6

Northwestern's Marty had a couple huge throws that shifted the momentum in the Wildcats' favor, including a 21-yard pass to Malik Washington to put his team at 1st and goal. But after an unsportsmanlike call on Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald, the Wildcats were forced to kick another field goal.

7:05/Q3: Iowa back up by two touchdowns — Iowa 17, Northwestern 3

The Wildcats hold the Hawkeyes to a field goal, but Iowa went 48 yards on nine plays and took 3:57 off the clock before scoring.

12:44/Q3: Hawkeyes punt to start the half

Iowa still holds a 14-3 lead, but they couldn't add points on the first possession of the second half. Northwestern takes over at the 20-yard line after Tory Taylor's 41-yard punt goes past the end zone.

HALFTIME: Iowa 14, Northwestern 3

Boy oh boy did those last couple minutes tick by slowly. We had a delay for a protest, then a forward pass called a fumble - and then reversed. The first half ends a first-down run from Goodson, but it was all zeroes on the clock.

0:34/Q2: Play stopped for protest 

Play was stopped for an extended period after a group of individuals took the field in protest.

2:11/Q2: Northwestern settles for a field goal — Iowa 14, Northwestern 3

A blocked punt put the Wildcats in the red zone for the first time all game. It looked like Northwestern was going to attempt a touchdown on fourth down, but elected for a field goal after the timeout.

3:34/Q2: Northwestern recovers a blocked punt

Wildcats' Raymond Niro III blocks and recovers the punt and puts Northwestern in the red zone for the first time all game. 

10:41/Q2: Padilla leads Hawkeyes to two touchdowns — Iowa 14, Northwestern 0

Arland Bruce IV rushes 10-yards - and shakes off a pair of Northwestern defenders - to give Iowa a two touchdown lead. Padilla is 6-9 for 75 yards since entering the game. Iowa's offense has recorded 141 yards and 2 touchdowns on 15 plays since Padilla replaced Petras.

13:59/Q2: Iowa interception

Did we mention that Iowa led the nation in interceptions with 16 coming into Saturday's game? Well, they now have 17 picks, thanks to Dane Belton. The Hawkeyes take over at the 17-yard line.

0:22/Q1: Iowa takes the lead — Iowa 7, Northwestern 0

Tyler Goodson runs 13 yards to give Iowa the go ahead touchdown, but that scoring chance was engineered by backup quarterback Alex Padilla. He completed two long passes - 17 and 26 yards - to Keagan Johnson to put the Hawkeyes in the red zone and Goodson capitalized.

2:16/Q1: Petras out, Padilla in

Sophomore quarterback Alex Padilla replaces Spencer Petras behind center for Iowa. Looks like Kirk Ferentz is looking for any way to ignite the Hawkeyes offense. Iowa had 26 yards and 1 first down in 11 plays (3 drives) under Petras. Padilla opened his time in the game with a pair of big throws.

7:38/Q1: A little bit of déjà vu

It feels like we've been here before...oh, wait we have. After a pair of punts to start the game, both Northwestern and Iowa followed up with two more punts. It's starting to seem like this might be a defensive battle, but it's definitely too early to tell.

9:49/Q1: Iowa's defense looks sharp

The Hawkeyes defense is looking good against Northwestern, so far. After Wildcats quarterback Andrew Marty ran for Northwestern's first first down, the Iowa defense made sure that didn't happen again on the same drive. The Hawkeyes sacked Marty and then pressured him, forcing the backup to throw the ball away. After failing to convert 3rd and 22, Northwestern punted the ball again.

11:15/Q1: Slow start for both teams

It's still early, but Saturday's game started with a pair of punts. Northwestern was forced to give the ball away on a three-and-out. Iowa picked up a first down, but failed to convert again. Tory Taylor kicked a 55-yard punt and the Wildcats get the ball back at the 20-yard line.

6:00 p.m.: Injury update

Iowa will be missing cornerbacks Riley Moss and Terry Roberts, and filling in will be Jermari Harris, who makes his second straight start. Gavin Williams will step in at backup running back for Ivory Kelly-Martin who is dressed but only on an emergency basis. 

Good news on the injury front: defensive end Deontae Craig is back after missing two weeks with injury.

Read more Iowa football news

Alyssa Hertel is a college sports recruiting reporter for the Des Moines Register. Contact Alyssa at or on Twitter @AlyssaHertel.