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Wisconsin Football vs. Iowa: Three Things to Watch For

Here are three things to look out for in Saturday’s conference clash between Wisconsin football and Iowa.



Wisconsin Badgers coach Luke Fickell
Oct 7, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Luke Fickell runs onto the field during warmups prior to the game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin Badgers football program improved to 4-1 last week with a 24-13 victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The Badgers are now looking ahead to the Iowa Hawkeyes in a game with huge implications in the division race.

Iowa is currently 5-1 on the season and 2-1 in conference play, currently sitting second in the Big Ten West rankings. The Badgers, who hold the top spot in the division, have yet to lose a game in conference play. Though we’re only six games in, this matchup could determine who comes away with the division title.

Here are three things to watch for in a big-time conference clash.

How Will Wisconsin Football Fare Against Iowa’s Talented Defense?

Great defensive play has been a cornerstone of Iowa’s program for several years now. The Hawkeyes have allowed just 16.3 points and 324.5 yards per game this season, good for No. 16 and No. 30 in the nation, respectively. 

Iowa’s defense is solid, but they have some weaknesses in run defense. The Hawkeyes are currently 55th in the nation against the run, allowing 131.2 rushing yards per game. On the other hand, their pass defense is ranked 29th in the country, allowing 193.3 yards per game. Considering the numbers, Wisconsin should lean on the run game in Saturday’s clash. 

Braelon Allen and Jackson Acker will be two key players to watch. The duo combined for 166 rushing yards on 34 total carries against Rutgers last week as Acker filled in nicely for the injured Chez Mellusi. If this tailback tandem can build off last week’s performance, UW should be in a good spot to remain unbeaten in conference play.

Can Wisconsin Badgers Football Force Mistakes From Iowa’s Inexperienced QB? 

A familiar face will be the starter for the Hawkeyes this weekend. Deacon Hill, who committed to Wisconsin in 2021 before electing to transfer, is filling in for the injured Cade McNamara, providing ample opportunity for Wisconsin’s defense to build off an impressive showing against Rutgers.

Hill has played in two games thus far with one start. In his two games, the former Badger has completed 21 of his 56 passes for 274 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Hill has looked inaccurate at times, and he’s certainly prone to mistakes due to his inexperience. 

Wisconsin will need to bring some solid pass rush and make the second-time starter uncomfortable in the pocket and some lockdown defense on the Hawkeye’s receivers. Iowa has a deep rotation of running backs, but they’ve been relatively ineffective early on. If Wisconsin is able to take away the run game and force Hill to make mistakes, it will be a good sign that Mike Tressel’s crew could be turning the corner. 

Which Badgers Receivers Will Step Up?

Wisconsin has a wealth of talent at wide receiver, but the group was relatively quiet last week — outside of Will Pauling.

Against the Scarlet Knights, Pauling and Bryson Green were the only receivers to log catches, with the former Cincinnati transfer securing eight receptions. Granted, Wisconsin didn’t necessarily need to lean on their receivers too often with the success of the ground game, but the contributions from the pass catchers were very hit-or-miss.

Going into Saturday’s matchup, the Badgers will be tested by Iowa’s secondary — highlighted by Cooper DeJean. As mentioned, Iowa’s pass defense is nothing to scoff at, and receivers may be limited once again. However, this game serves as a litmus test as to which pass catchers can handle the pressure of a solid secondary. 

The Wisconsin football program will kick off Saturday’s home matchup against Iowa at 3 PM CST.

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Jake Maier is the managing editor and publisher at He has provided coaching and editorial support to numerous writers in his role, contributing significantly to the platform's growth. His expertise extends to Wisconsin Badgers football, basketball, and recruiting coverage. Jake's previous bylines can be found at Fansided and Wisconsin Sports Heroics.