Connect with us


How Will Wisconsin Football Beat Iowa? – Analytics Preview

Here’s a look at how the numbers say Wisconsin football will take down Iowa on Saturday.



Wisconsin football hoists the Heartland Trophy
Oct 30, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers players celebrate with the Heartland Trophy following the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It’s almost gameday, and I’m back to bring you an “Analytics” Preview of Wisconsin Badgers Football and their Matchup vs. Iowa!

If you missed it, read my Analytics Recap of Game 5 vs. Rutgers or PART IV of my “DEEP DIVE” series. Check them out!

But let’s dive into our matchup vs. the Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa Offense:

Personnel Grouping & Play-Mix:

Wisconsin Football vs. Iowa Analytics Chart

If Iowa shows up in 11 Personnel or 12 Personnel (1 RB 1TE or 1 RB 2TE), there’s a ~70% chance it’s going to be a Pass.

If they show up in 13 Personnel or 22 Personnel, there’s a ~88% chance it’s going to be a run.

Hilarious levels of predictability based on Personnel grouping! Drive for 325!

Route concepts:

Wisconsin Football vs. Iowa Analytics Chart

Iowa, Iowa, Iowa. Man, I wanted to not bash this offense, it almost seems TO in vogue right now.

But man, when you see 71% of their Route Concepts used have Air Yards/ATT of <3.3 Yards. Frankly, I have absolutely no concern they’re going to be able to test us at all.

(The Black Line is AIR YARDS/ATT x ROUTE)

And it gets worse…

Wisconsin Football vs. Iowa Analytics Chart

Iowa, outside of Screens, Flats, or Drags with Air Yards/ATT of -1.83, 0.40, and 1.00, respectively, has no On-TGT % over 60%.

If you can recall, Rutgers had a pretty similar On-Tgt Performance. But to Rutgers’ credit, they at least pushed the ball further downfield.

Iowa vs. Pass Coverages:

Looking at Iowa and how they fare vs. particular coverages. They haven’t faced a ton of Cover 0. What they have seen is a lot of Cover 1. The rest has been a mix of Cover 3 & Screens.

What we can see is that vs. Cover 1, Iowa’s collective On-TGT % is 42.11%

Wisconsin Football vs. Iowa Analytics Chart

There are going to be errant throws out there on Saturday. We’ve been taking advantage of those as a defense quite often since Week 3 vs. Ga. Southern. I’d expect the same this Saturday, especially if we jump on them quick and they have to get to the Pass-Game early and often.

Iowa Running Game:

Run Type:

Wisconsin Football vs. Iowa Analytics Chart

The Hawkeys, rely on Inside Zone & Outside quite heavily. They mix the remainder with Counter & Power Runs. What’s impressive is Iowa doesn’t get stuffed very often, even on Inside Zone Runs. They almost NEVER get stuffed in their Outside Zone & Counter Runs.

Outside of those Core Run-Types, things get rocky for the Hawks with Stuff Rates >30%.

It was a fantastic outing versus Rutgers, nothing flashy, not many TFLs. Just really sound and fundamental defense. Given their predictability in Personnel groupings we should be able to sneak an extra man into the box quite often and keep the Rush YPA Allowed low on Saturday.

From a YPA standpoint, Iow is really only “successful” however you want to define that, for me, it’s >4.25 YPA on Outside Zone & Counter Run-Types.

All other Run Plays are below 4.25 YPA and show a very low level of execution!

What Challenge will Iowa Present the Wisconsin Football Offense?:

Iowa Coverages:

Iowa plays a good mix of Coverages. But their primary coverage is Cover 3, with a good mix of Cover 2 & Cover 4 as well.

What Iowa isn’t going to do is play a lot of 1-High Safety looks. At least I don’t anticipate this based on the data. We haven’t faced a lot of teams who don’t primarily play Cover 1. So this should be a pretty new challenge to this Wisconsin football Offense.

Iowa Pass Rush:

Pretty standard look here from Iowa, as they play in a 4-Man Defensive front. You’d expect this look, very old-school when you compare what they’re going to present us vs. what we’ve seen so far this season.

Iowa hasn’t been able to get a ton of good pressure on the QB from its most used Pass Rushers (DE/DT). Where they have been successful at getting pressure is by sending Safety and LB blitzes! The good news is that they rarely send their Safetys, which they generate the highest Pressure Rate from. How aggressive they decide to get with their LBs will be a key to this game. Braelon/Rucci haven’t been outstanding when in on Pass Protection. And I’d much rather keep them in quick/hot routes and try to get them in space with vacated by blitzing LBs. I just have faith in Mordecai to avoid the pressure and find his guys!

I’ve been concerned with how this O-Line has performed in Pass-Blocking, given how impactful their poor performance in Week 2 vs. WSU was. But I think we can put to bed the notion that this O-Line isn’t Very Good to borderline ELITE.

Iowa vs. 11 Personnel:

Wisconsin Football vs. Iowa Analytics Chart

This will be a very interesting thing to watch. How will Iowa load the box when we go 11 Personnel. As it stands through this Season when they’ve faced it they have BARELY loaded the box with more than 6 defenders. It’s Phil Longo’s Bread-and-Butter Personnel grouping, and Braelon Allen and Jackson Acker will be able to get a lot of easy yards against light boxes.

From a Coverage Usages standpoint when teams have gone 11-Personnel this Season there is no real changeup. Cover 3 is their most used scheme, beyond that its a mix of Cover 2 | 6 & Cover 4. With only 19% Cover 0/1 USAGE.

Wisconsin Football vs. Iowa Analytics Chart

Given our ability to Run the Football, especially against lighter boxes, I’ll be interested to see if Iowa increases their Cover 1 usage and what that means for our Passing Attack.

How Will Wisconsin Football Attack Iowa in 11 Personnel?:

Wisconsin Football vs. Iowa Analytics Chart

We’ve seen our PA/RPO % drop a bit, especially last week with how much Cover 1 Man they played. What’s interesting here is Iowa looks to be playing much more Cover 3, Cover 4, and Cover 2/6. When Wisconsin football is in 11 Personnel and is facing Cover 3, we’ve been extremely efficient.

This again leads me to believe we’ll see an increase in Cover 1 from Iowa. I think they’ll have to force the issue against us.

Final thoughts on Wisconsin Badgers vs. Iowa:

Implied Line:

VEGAS SPREAD is Wisconsin -9.5 & O/U 34. This implies a Score of:

Wisconsin Football: 24/21 vs. Iowa: 13

Final Thoughts:

I think we’re starting to see a little more belief in Wisconsin out of Vegas. The Spread for Penn State vs. Iowa was only -14.

I’m glad my record highlights myself as being FIRMLY on this team’s bandwagon through all the ups and downs. I still believe this Team is 11-1 “Good”. I don’t think that changes at all vs. Iowa, in fact, I think we win handily.

I truly believe this team is SO CLOSE to breaking out; I’ve had this feeling it’s coming since the Ga. Southern 2nd Half Performance.

We’re now in the biggest stretch of the season. If we can’t come to play for a full 60 Minutes in a Rivalry Game vs. Iowa by playing at or close to our best level all game. I’m not sure we are who we think we are!

I predict we do, I feel it in my bones!

My Prediction:

Wisconsin football: 30 Iowa: 10

On Wisconsin!

Contact/Follow us @Badger_Notes on Twitter, Subscribe to the BadgerNotes Newsletter here, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Wisconsin Badgers news, notes, opinion, and analysis. You can also follow me on Twitter @GardYourFickell

Join the BadgerNotes watch party and stream Wisconsin Badgers games by following this link.

*Subscribe to BadgerNotes After Dark on Youtube and wherever you find podcasts, the official Wisconsin Badgers podcast of the Big Banter Sports Network.

Gard Your Fickell is a leading authority on Wisconsin Badgers analytics, specializing in dissecting the intricate data behind football and basketball. With a deep passion for the game and an analytical mindset, Gard Your Fickell offers readers a unique perspective on the Badgers performance.