The roses are in bloom today in Evanston, about 400 yards outside of Ryan Field. It's highly unlikely either Iowa or Northwestern still have a chance to see roses in late December. For today's loser, it's virtually a lost cause.
Iowa (4-3, 2-1 Big Ten) still controls its opportunity to win the Big Ten Legends Division despite its 38-14 loss to Penn State last week. The Hawkeyes play every team left in divisional play and have won both Legends Division matchups.
Northwestern (6-2, 2-2) has a more difficult path. The Wildcats lost to Nebraska last week, which means they not only need Michigan to lose twice and Nebraska once, Northwestern needs to win a tiebreaker with the Cornhuskers. Any hope is lost for Northwestern if Iowa wins today.
In its 41-31 win against Northwestern last year, Iowa built a 17-0 lead early and then survived the Wildcats tying the game at 17-17 in the third quarter. Iowa safety Tanner Miller intercepted a pass and returned it 98 yards for a touchdown early in the first quarter.
Current Northwestern ultra-back Kain Colter rushed for 76 yards, threw for 48 yards and caught passes for 71 yards in that game. Colter continues to play every position for the Wildcats.
"I remember it was a pretty big breakout game for me," he said. "I had a pretty good game., made some pretty big plays. We had some costly turnovers, just weren’t consistent enough.
"I remember they had some good DBs, No. 18 (Micah Hyde), obviously (Shaun) Prater. They’re just a well-coached team, very disciplined and they’re not going to go out there with too much flash. They’re going to sit there and hit you in the mouth."
Iowa beat Northwestern 21 years in a row before the Wildcats surged to beat the Hawkeyes in their magical 1995 season. Northwestern has won nine of the last 15 meetings, including five of the last seven.
"We’ve developed kind of a rivalry over the past few years," Colter said. "We’ve had some great battles. We have the utmost respect for them and I feel that in return."