On Nov. 6, 1869, the Rutgers football team defeated Princeton 6-4 in the first-ever intercollegiate football game. While the 1869 game had different rules and regulations, the low-scoring affair could repeat when the Scarlet Knights (6-3, 3-3) face off against Iowa this weekend.
Three weeks ago, the Hawkeyes (7-2, 4-2) defeated Wisconsin 15-6. The following week, then-No. 24 Iowa fell to Minnesota by a score of 12-10. Just last week, the Hawkeyes earned a 10-7 win over Northwestern. For those keeping track, No. 22 Iowa has given up just 25 points through its last three games while also generating just 35 points of its own.
Last season, it was the Hawkeyes' defense that helped them earn a victory over the Knights in a week four prime-time matchup. Iowa won 27-10 as its defense turned the tide with a fumble-recovery touchdown and a pick-six.
The Hawkeyes will not be intimidating on offense this weekend, especially without Cade McNamara. They average 18.4 points per game, placing them 13th in the Big Ten Conference. The team also sits dead last in offensive yards per game and total touchdowns with 225.3 and 17, respectively.
Despite its lack of offense, Iowa has seven wins, mainly due to its defense.
The Hawkeyes are fourth in the Big Ten and the nation in points allowed at 13.7 per game, sitting behind Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. Right behind Iowa in that category is Rutgers, which has allowed an average of 17.9 points per game.
The Knights and the Hawkeyes are also in the top five in yards allowed in the conference, with the former having the edge at the fourth spot. Rutgers allows 282.4 yards per game, while Iowa allows 297.8. Both teams are in the top 17 across the country in this statistic.
Joe Evans leads the Hawkeyes on the defensive line with 8.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks this season. Sebastian Castro will also be a player to watch in coverage, as he leads the team with three interceptions and four pass breakups. He also leads his fellow defensive back with six tackles for loss.
Jay Higgins is another key player for Iowa's defense, as the linebacker leads the conference with 113 total tackles.
Junior defensive lineman Aaron Lewis, junior defensive back Robert Longerbeam, senior linebacker Deion Jennings and the rest of the Knights' defense will look to get the upper hand over the Hawkeyes this Saturday at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.
Rutgers' "Dark Side defense" will need to establish its empiric prowess this weekend if it wants to earn the program's first seven-win season since 2014.
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