DES MOINES, Iowa | Miscues and penalties cost Northwestern. Now there's not a lot of time to regroup.
The Wildcats dropped their fourth straight game after Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Jake Rudock in overtime to give the Hawkeyes a 17-10 win Saturday.
Northwestern (4-4, 0-4 Big Ten) coughed up two fumbles and allowed six sacks — including one on the final play of the game when Iowa pulled down Kain Colter to seal the win.
"We're beating ourselves," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "We're not good enough — nobody in the country is good enough — to beat two teams. We have to go back to work Tuesday like I know the guys will and find a way to get it fixed."
The Hawkeyes (5-3, 2-2) nearly blew another game leading at halftime. Northwestern scored 10 unanswered points in the second half, but Iowa held on in overtime to snap a two-game losing skid.
Both teams made mistakes on key opportunities late in the fourth quarter.
Iowa's Mike Meyer pushed a 42-yard field goal to the left of the uprights with five minutes left.
Northwestern's ensuing drive ended after four plays when running back Mike Trumpy mishandled an option pitch from Colter with three minutes left.
The Hawkeyes might have had a long field goal shot in the final minute but a Rudock pass was tipped and caught by an offensive lineman, forcing Iowa to go for it with 15 seconds left. Rudock's attempt was intercepted.
Colter started for the Wildcats after missing last week's game against Minnesota with an ankle injury.
Miscues and penalties ultimately ruined his return.
Northwestern was in Iowa territory in the second quarter when running back Mike Trumpy fumbled. The fumble on the option pitch cost the Wildcats a chance to win the game in the fourth.
Referees flagged Northwestern five times for 55 penalty yards. All were against the offensive line — three holdings, one illegal block and a false start.
"Do your job and don't get penalties," Fitzgerald said. "It was unbelievable the amount of penalties today. I'll look at the tape on the bus ride home, but it looked like our guys just weren't moving their feet."
The Wildcats scored 10 unanswered points in the second half to tie the game.
Colter connected with tight end Dan Vitale on a 10-yard score with 4:44 remaining the third quarter. After Colter's play-action fake he found Vitale wide open in the middle of the end zone.
Northwestern put together an 8 ½-minute drive later in the half, but the Wildcats were forced to settle for a Jeff Budzein 29-yard field midway through the fourth quarter.
Colter looked sharp in his return — he threw for 104 yards and ran for 60 yards. Colter completed 11-of-14 passes.
"He was out there making every play," Fitzgerald said. "I'm really proud of him."
Rudock completed 19-of-27 passes for 169 yards — none bigger than the third-down pass to Fiedorowicz in overtime. Rudock rolled to his right and lofted a pass to his big tight end in the left corner of the end zone.
Northwestern was in man-to-man defense. Fiedorowicz shook the coverage on his corner route.
"You have to give a lot of credit to the O-line and to Jake for throwing a great ball," Fiedorowicz said. "I just ran underneath it and did my job."
Running back Damon Bullock's 3-yard touchdown run gave Iowa an early lead after its opening drive.
Meyer kicked a 38-yard field goal to make it 10-0 Hawkeyes. The kick moved Meyer into second place on Iowa's all-time field goal list. Later, Meyer took second place on the school's scoring list.