Game Breakdown: Wisconsin Badgers vs Iowa Hawkeyes
The Wisconsin Badgers dominated the Maryland Terrapins last week, walking away from Camp Randall with a 23-10 victory.
Weather played a huge factor in the game. Maryland completely abandoned their preferred style of football because of it and didn’t stand a chance. I severely underestimated this making my best bets last week, but that’s for another day.
The program has found its footing under
interim head coach Jim Leonhard. Winning back-to-back games for the first time all season.
Wisconsin (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten) will look to build off that momentum as they hit the road to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten).
Both teams can still win the Big Ten West, but this game is a must-win for each program if they want to keep those hopes alive. Kickoff is at 2:30 pm (CST) on FS1.
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The Hawkeyes have been a wild team to watch this season. Their offense is awful, averaging only 262.8 yards per game, the 3rd worst in the nation. Leading to an average of 17.2 points per game, good for 7th worst in nation.
Honestly calling them awful might be taking it too easy. Iowa has scored 16 touchdowns the entire season. You read that correctly, 16 touchdowns in nine games…for a team with a winning record.
They have converted a measly 28% of their 3rd downs this season, which is surely one of the worst percentages of the season.
But I refuse to look it up, because I don’t know if my mental health can take seeing Iowa in the bottom 10 of another offensive category.
Let’s stay positive…
Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras threw for two touchdowns in their game last week against Purdue. Bringing his season total to a hearty five touchdowns, to go along with five interceptions.
Petras has only completed 55.7% of his passes this year, and eclipsed the 200 yard mark just twice.
There have also been two games Petras hasn’t thrown for over 100 yards.
It’s not as if he possess some crazy rushing ability that counters his sub-par passing stats. Petras has been sacked 24 times, leading to an impressive -119 rushing yards.
Ok, I’ve picked on Petras enough. Onto the only other two skill players to mention on the Hawkeyes.
Freshman running back Kaleb Johnson is fresh off a 22 carry, 200 yard performance against Purdue. His season stats won’t blow you away though.
Johnson has carried the ball 96 times, accumulating 553 yards and scoring four touchdowns.
His outburst against the Purdue was just the second time all season he’s gone over 100 yards.
Johnson isn’t a real threat in the receiving game either, catching three passes for 24 yards.
Sam LaPorta is the top receiving option for Petras. Continuing the succession of talented Iowa tight ends.
LaPorta has caught 44 balls this season, racking up 458 yards, and one touchdown.
LaPorta is more talented than his production even shows. As he projects as a mid to late round draft pick. Poor quarterback play over the past two years has not helped his cause one bit.
I don’t envision Iowa moving the ball with much success against Wisconsin.
The Iowa defense has been polar opposite of the offense this season.
The Hawkeyes only give up 14.3 points and 264.4 yards per game. Both ranking top five in college football.
Iowa’s defense has racked up 24 sacks, and 15 turnovers forced through nine games to further add to the impressive numbers.
Their defense is the only reason they’ve won any games this year, and it will need to be the same story on Saturday if they want to come away with a win.
The Hawkeye defense is loaded with playmakers, and will be a handful for the Badgers. Here’s a quick look at some of the key contributors for the Hawkeyes.
- Joe Evans – Defensive End – 31 tackles, five sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and one touchdown.
- Lukas Van Ness – Defensive End – 29 tackles, five sacks
- Deontae Craig – Defensive Tackle – 19 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles, and two passes defended.
- Cooper DeJean – Defensive Back – 50 tackles, three interceptions, one touchdown, and seven passes defended.
- Kaevon Merriweather – Defensive Back – 38 tackles, three interceptions, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and one touchdown.
In summary, this defense is scary good.
The Badgers decided to say fuck it last week and put the entire offense on Braelon Allen, Isaac Guerendo, and the offensive line’s shoulders with the weather at Camp Randall being less than ideal.
To their credit it worked like a charm.
Both Allen and Guerendo ran for over 100 yards. The o-line bullied the Maryland front all day, and by the time the second half came the Terrapins looked disinterested in playing that physical.
I’m quite interested to see who starts for the offensive line this week, as the Badgers have been forced to use seven different starting combinations this season.
It’s going to be difficult for the Badgers to move the ball compared to last week, but I do think the Badgers will stick with the same strategy on Saturday.
Graham Mertz wasn’t asked to do much last week, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep it the same against the Hawkeyes.
Wisconsins best bet to win this game, is to control the clock with the run game, take any points they can get, and play incredible defense.
This couldn’t be a better spot for the Wisconsin defense to thrive.
Iowa struggles throwing the ball. The Badgers secondary has been the weakest link of the defense all season, but has been improving the past two weeks.
Iowa struggles protecting the quarterback. Wisconsin had an above average pass rush, and is coming off a five sack and seven tackle loss performance.
Not to mention the Badgers’ two best pass rushers, Nick Herbig and Keanu Benton are both NFL caliber players.
Aside from their last game, Iowa struggles to run the ball. Wisconsin just happens to have one of the best run defenses in the country.
Point being there’s a reason the over/under for this game in at 35. Both defenses should dominate.
This is going to be a classic low scoring Big Ten matchup and I honestly can’t wait.
I was out to dinner with some
friends family last night, and we were talking about how enjoyable low scoring games can be if you’re watching two teams who are playing flawless defense. I think that’s what we’re getting in this one.
Also I got judged for ordering 15 buy one get one wings and BDubs, for a total of 30 wings. Like it was just assumed my fat ass was going to eat all 30 at once.
I’m proud to announce I saved 16 wings from dinner, had 10 for lunch, and the other six as a post work snack. So you can fuck right off PJ.
Sorry had to get that off my chest.
Back to football.
I think Wisconsin narrowly escapes this game with a victory, but it’ll come down to the last few minutes.
I’m just excited to see the game of football set back 50 years after this matchup. This was made for guys like me.
You can follow me on Twitter @FrznPizzaCooper There you’ll find jokes, plenty of music takes, offensive line talk (especially anything Larry Allen related), Larry Bird highlights (I got a thing for Larry’s what can I say), and of course my work for badgernotes.com.
Badgers Country. Let’s ride.