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Good, Bad and Ugly From Wisconsin Football Loss to Iowa

Tory Taylor punted Wisconsin football into submission.



Wisconsin football; Badgers inside linebacker Jake Chaney
Oct 14, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes running back Leshon Williams (4) runs the ball against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tork Mason-USA TODAY Sports

Madison, Wis. — On Saturday, Luke Fickell and the Wisconsin Badgers football program (4-2, 2-1 B1G) laid an egg in a crucial Big Ten West showdown, falling to the Iowa Hawkeyes at home.

Here’s a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly from the Badgers 15-6 loss to Iowa at Camp Randall Stadium in Week 7.

The Good: Badgers Defense Showed Up, but It Wasn’t Enough

Wisconsin Badgers football inside linebacker Jordan Turner

Wisconsin linebackers Jordan Turner and Maema Njongmeta (55) celebrate after Turner sacks Iowa quarterback Deacon Hill on Saturday, October 14, 2023, at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. Iowa won the game, 12-6.

If I had mentioned before the game that the Wisconsin football defense, led by Mike Tressel, would limit Deacon Hill to just 37 passing yards, generate 10 punts, and produce as many three-and-outs (9) as Iowa’s total first downs — and we’d still end up with a loss — you might have thought I was using illicit drugs.

But numbers and logic get thrown out the window when talking about Wisconsin vs. Iowa.

Wisconsin’s defense managed to limit the Hawkeyes to just 237 total yards of offense and registered nine tackles for loss. However, Kirk Ferentz and his typical Iowa approach – avoiding self-inflicted mistakes and capitalizing on opportunities when they present themselves – ultimately determined the game’s outcome.

While it was encouraging to witness the Wisconsin football defense holding another conference rival under the 300-yard mark, a closer look reveals some recurring issues. Tackling problems resurfaced, the run defense showed vulnerability, and the lack of pressure from the front seven on the Hawkeyes offense significantly influenced UW’s downfall.

This one isn’t on the defense, but in a game with a razor-thin margin for error, the Wisconsin Badgers damn near needed perfection from this unit.

The Bad: Wisconsin Football Offense is in Trouble Without Tanner Mordecai

Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Tanner Mordecai exits the Iowa game with an injury

Oct 14, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Tanner Mordecai (8) runs to the locker room during the second quarter against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Everything that could go wrong for Wisconsin yesterday did go wrong. But losing starting quarterback Tanner Mordecai to an injury takes the cake.

Redshirt freshman Braedyn Locke stepped in and completed 15-of-30 pass attempts for 122 yards, an interception, and two fumbles in relief. I can acknowledge that playing your first meaningful snaps against Iowa isn’t exactly ideal –but if Mordecai is going to miss significant time — the Wisconsin football team is in for a rollercoaster finish to the season.

Phil Longo’s playcalling in the game against the Hawkeyes left many fans scratching their heads, particularly with the decision to throw the ball 50 times. Additionally, the offense lacks a clear-cut identity. But one thing is for sure moving forward: any offensive shortcomings that Mordecai may have been able to mask will become even more glaring in the upcoming weeks.

The Ugly: Wisconsin Football Losing the Big Ten West in a Down Year

Wisconsin football head coach Luke Fickell

Wisconsin head coach Luke Fickell argues with an official after a penalty during a game against Iowa on Saturday, October 14, 2023, at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. Iowa won the game, 12-6.

Athletic Director Chris McIntosh made a splash when he hired Luke Fickell to become the next head coach of the Wisconsin football program.

While the expectation was that building a college football playoff-caliber team would take time, the combination of returning talent, transfer portal additions, and well-compensated coaching staff made winning the West the anticipated outcome.

After Saturday’s loss to Iowa, Badgers fans must accept a bitter reality. Unless something unexpected happens, Wisconsin football won’t win the Big Ten West in a season when the division is at absolute rock bottom.

Talk about a missed opportunity — especially when conference expansion is on the horizon.

Wisconsin Football Fans Are Furious After Badgers 15-6 Loss to Iowa

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Dillon Graff is a Substack Newsletter Best Selling Author and the Owner of, your go-to source for in-depth coverage of the Wisconsin Badgers. His work has been featured in top media publications like USA Today, Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, B5Q, Saturday Blitz, and Fansided.