IOWA CITY, Iowa (Ticker) -- Call it a classic letdown for No. 18 Northwestern.
Coming off last week's wild victory over Michigan, the Wildcats came out flat and suffered a 27-10 Big Ten Conference setback to Iowa that damaged their Rose Bowl hopes.
Northwestern, which started the day tied for first place with Purdue, stayed alive in the race when the Boilermakers lost at Michigan State later in the day. But Northwestern does not control its own destiny and will need more help next week.
The Wildcats (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten) rallied for a 54-51 victory over Michigan last season, but probably wish they could have saved some of those points for today.
Northwestern sputtered on offense before scoring two late touchdowns and fell behind, 20-3, early in the second half. Zak Kustok completed 23-of-45 for 225 yards but faced constant pressure and was sacked eight times.
Kyle McCann connected on 17-of-27 for 243 yards and two touchdowns for the Hawkeyes (3-8, 3-4), who are trying to end a disappointing season on a high note. Iowa defeated Penn State, 26-23, last week in overtime.
McCann tossed a 12-yard TD pass to Kahlil Hill to give Iowa a 13-3 lead with 35 seconds left in the first half. He tossed a 42-yard scoring strike to Kevin Kasper to make it 20-3 4:47 into the third quarter.
Northwestern closed to 20-10 on Kustok's one-yard TD run with 1:59 left in the third quarter and got back the ball early in the fourth quarter. But an errant snap over Kustok's head resulted in a 22-yard loss and the Wildcats were forced to punt.
Iowa put it away on McCann's one-yard TD run, taking a 7-10 lead with 7:58 remaining. Kustok tossed a 10-yard TD strike to Jon Schweighardt to account for the final scoring with 3:01 to go.
Hill had seven receptions for 78 yards for the Hawkeyes and rushed for 88 yards on 24 carries. Kasper added five receptions for 100 yards, including two crucial catches on Iowa's clinching drive.
Damien Anderson rushed for 123 yards on 29 carries for the Wildcats, who scored 95 points in their previous two games.
For nearly three quarters, Northwestern was held to Tim Long's 34-yard field goal in the second quarter. Iowa took the lead for good, 6-3, on Nate Kaeding's 46-yarder with 4:19 left in the half.