North­west­ern wins West with vic­tory over Iowa

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - By Pete Ru­den

North­west­ern re­ceiver Ben­nett Skowronek makes the div­ing catch for a 32-yard touch­down ahead of Iowa de­fen­sive back Michael Oje­mu­dia to give the Wild­cats the lead with 9:27 left. North­west­ern 14, Iowa 10

IOWA CITY, Iowa — North­west­ern clinched bowl el­i­gi­bil­ity and a spot in its con­fer­ence ti­tle game on the same day.

Only in the Big Ten West. Isa­iah Bowser ran for 165 yards and a touch­down and North­west­ern downed Iowa 14- 10 on Satur­day to clinch a spot in the Big Ten cham­pi­onship game, Dec. 1 in In­di­anapo­lis against an East Divi­sion cham­pion still to be de­ter­mined.

De­spite a 6- 4 over­all record, North­west­ern has beaten Pur­due, Wis­con­sin and Iowa in reach­ing the top of the divi­sion with a 6- 1 mark.

"This team has over­come a ton of ad­ver­sity," North­west­ern coach Pat Fitzger­ald said. "We got beat up. We had a bunch of in­juries, lost some tough games there. The broth­er­hood in that locker room is the glue that kept ev­ery­thing to­gether."

Ben­nett Skowronek's 32-yard touch­down, which came off an in­cred­i­ble catch in the fourth quar­ter, gave the Wild­cats a 14- 10 lead they wouldn't surrender.

Af­ter a first half that yielded just three points on a 46- yard field goal by Iowa kicker Miguel Re­ci­nos, the scor­ing ramped up in the sec­ond.

Bowser hit a hole for a 34-yard touch­down at 9:19 of the third quar­ter to give the Wild­cats their first lead of the game.

Iowa at­tempted to pin the Wild­cats in­side their own 5 on a punt and Josh Turner was there to down the ball, but it rolled into the end zone. Af­ter the Wild­cats gained de­cent field po­si­tion from the touch­back, Iowa cor­ner­back Matt Hank­ins was flagged for pass in­ter­fer­ence that set up Bowser's TD run.

Bowser gave North­west­ern a boost af­ter a first half in which it posted only 75 yards.

"I think ( the touch­down) got us go­ing," Bowser said. "Ob­vi­ously, not scor­ing in the first half, so coming out and scor­ing in the sec­ond half, that was big for our of­fense and big for our de­fense too, know­ing that they had a lead."

Af­ter Re­ci­nos missed a field goal, Iowa safety Jake Ger­vase in­ter­cepted Clay­ton Thor­son's pass off a tip. Iowa ( 6- 4, 3- 4) cashed in just two plays later with Nate Stan­ley's 28- yard touch­down pass to Ih­mir Smith-Marsette.

The Hawkeyes had a chance to take the lead late in the fourth, but North­west­ern's Cameron Ruiz forced Mekhi Sar­gent to fum­ble, and the Wild­cats jumped on it.

Iowa had one fi­nal chance with un­der two min­utes to go, but an­other fum­ble by Ivory Kelly-Martin ended the Hawkeyes' chances.

"They out­played us," Iowa coach Kirk Fer­entz said. "They've worked hard, they've in­vested and I thought they com­peted hard. But I guess it wasn't good enough."

Stan­ley threw for 269 yards and a touch­down for the Hawkeyes, losers of three straight.

The Wild­cats are 6-1 in the con­fer­ence for the first time since 1996, when they won nine games and played in the Cit­rus Bowl. “I didn’t want to talk about go­ing to bowl games, but I just said, ‘You know what, forget all that, I’m talk­ing about bowl games’ be­cause they’re big. I’m go­ing to call these guys out on it and say that’s what we’re play­ing for.”

In­di­ana coach Tom Allen, who took the big-pic­ture ap­proach to the sea­son and had his play­ers re­spond with a 34-32 vic­tory over Mary­land, leav­ing Hoosiers (5-5) one game shy of be­ing bowl-el­i­gi­ble • With start­ing quar­ter­back Alex Horni­brook out with a con­cus­sion, Wis­con­sin lacked bal­ance on of­fense in a 22-10 de­feat at Penn State. Star run­ning back Jonathan Tay­lor ran 20 times for 185 yards and a touch­down, but backup quar­ter­back Jack Coan com­pleted just 9 of 20 passes for 60 yards with two in­ter­cep­tions, and he was sacked five times. Coan was just 2 of 4 for 10 yards in the first half as the Badgers lost for the third time in fi ve games.

• Karan Hig­don, who ran for 42 yards in a 42-7 vic­tory over Rut­gers, be­came Michi­gan’s first 1,000- yard rusher in a sea­son since quar­ter­back De­nard Robin­son in 2012. • Illi­nois quar­ter­back AJ Bush, who spent the first two years of his col­lege ca­reer at Ne­braska, rushed for an Illini QB-record 187 yards and three touch­downs on 25 car­ries in a 54-35 loss to the Corn­huskers. Bush passed for 126 yards but was in­ter­cepted twice.

[CHAR­LIE NEIBERGALL/ THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS] WEST Satur­day’s re­sults Satur­day, Nov. 17

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