MADISON, WISCONSIN – SEPTEMBER 17: Braelon Allen #0 of the Wisconsin Badgers scores on a 39-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against the New Mexico State Aggies at Camp Randall Stadium on September 17, 2022 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Iowa Hawkeyes: What to watch for

The Wisconsin Badgers (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten) will face off against the Iowa Hawkeyes (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten) on Saturday afternoon.

Wisconsin is coming off of a solid victory against Maryland, a game where they limited Taulia Tagovailoa to just 77 yards through the air. The Badgers’ defense was stout against Maryland and now head to Kinnick Stadium to take on one of college football’s lowest-ranked offenses.

Iowa has struggled throughout the 2022 season. The Hawkeyes boast one of the best defenses in the country, but their offense has been subpar.. Iowa is coming off of a 24-3 win against Purdue, snapping a four-game losing streak. Both teams are searching for a win to become bowl eligible and claim the second spot in the Big Ten West.

Here are some key items to watch for in Saturday’s showdown:

How will the Wisconsin Badgers offense fare against Iowa’s stout defense?

As mentioned previously, Iowa has been one of the best defensive teams in the country in 2022. The Hawkeyes rank in the top ten in rushing yards allowed and passing yards allowed. Additionally, Iowa lands in the top five in total yards allowed and points allowed. The Hawkeyes allow just 14.3 points per game. Wisconsin averages 30.8 points per game but faces a difficult task in having that same productivity against Iowa’s formidable defense.

The Badgers are a team known for setting the tone on the ground. On Saturday, they will need to overcome Iowa’s impressive run defense. With Braelon Allen and Isaac Guerendo coming off a big game against Maryland, we can hope they carry that momentum into a critical matchup this weekend.

Will the Badgers’ defense shut down the Hawkeye’s poor offense?

The Badgers defense put together a complete game against the Terrapins last weekend. Wisconsin allowed just 189 yards of total offense and effectively shut down the passing game. Now set to take on one of the nation’s worst offenses, the Badgers have a perfect opportunity to carry the momentum from the previous game.

The Hawkeye’s are one of the worst offensive teams in the country, putting up just 17.22 points per game. Additionally, Iowa is ranked 129th in the country in total yards, averaging 262.22 yards per game. Suffice it to say Iowa has a directionless offense, giving the Badgers a golden opportunity.

If Wisconsin is going to win this game, it will be done on the defensive end. That makes the Badgers’ defense a key group to watch on Saturday.

How will the Wisconsin Badgers look at (nearly) full health?

Coming into Saturday, the Badgers have a very thin injury report. Players who are set to return to play include Vito Calvaruso, Isaiah Mullens, and Preston Zachman.

Calvaruso has missed most of the season, appearing in just two games this year. The junior kicker went 1-for-3 on field goal attempts in those games. It’s unclear at this time if he will play, but the Badgers will get some insurance at kicker. On the defensive side, Mullens and Zachman’s returns are big for the Badgers. Mullens will get his spot back as the starting defensive end if he is cleared to play, while Zachman will provide important depth at safety.

The Badgers have one of the thinnest injury reports of the season for Saturday’s game. With that in mind, it will be an interesting item to watch as Wisconsin plays at nearly full health.

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