Wisconsin Opponent Preview: Iowa

Wisconsin Opponent Preview: Iowa

Football

Wisconsin Opponent Preview: Iowa

Good news and bad news as it is concerned for the University of Wisconsin.

The bad first is Wisconsin is trying to shake off a tough September loss, seeing an opportunity to send an ugly game into overtime sail wide left. Instead of another perfect nonconference home season, UW is left to figure out what went wrong from its 24-21 loss to BYU last weekend. The good news, however, is there is still plenty of season left to make up for their loss and win the Big Ten championship. Are the hopes of the College Football Playoffs out of reach for the Badgers?  Not necessarily, even though the probability went way down, and UW can right the ship this Saturday at Iowa. If the Badgers can finish the season strong and win the Big Ten Championship, can that land them a spot in the playoffs?

Iowa is coming off a big win against Northern Iowa, 38-14, in large part to its offense and junior quarterback Nate Stanley. Stanley threw for over 300 yards, completing 23 of 28 of his passes and a pair of touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Nick Easley had a field day with Stanley’s performance, hauling in 10 receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown. The ball was run efficiently by the Hawkeye running backs, sophomore Toren Young and Mekhi Sargent, combining for 154 rushing yards off of 29 carries and three scores.  The last stat should catch the attention of Wisconsin, considering the Badgers saw BYU senior running back Squally Canada run for 118 yards and two touchdowns on only 11 carries.

That performance wasn’t the typical Badgers defense we see every week, a unit that has the core goals of shutting down the run game, limiting the opponents’ scores close to none and getting the ball back to the offense.

Defensively, the Hawkeyes held the Panthers to six rushing yards on 21 attempts. UNI’s leading rusher finished with 27 yards on 13 carries. The Panthers were able to do some damage through the air, however, finishing with 222 passing yards and completing a decent percentage (21-for-38, 55.2 percent) of their passes to their receivers.  Both teams evened out on turnovers with two, the Hawkeyes causing an interception and fumble recovery and the Panthers catching two interceptions.

The passing game for both teams last weekend was not a pretty sight to see at Camp Randall Stadium.  Junior Alex Hornibrook went 18-for-28 passing for 190 yards but threw a costly interception and no touchdowns. Senior Tanner Mangum struggled throughout the game, throwing only for 89 yards on 12-for-22 passing.  Mangum also went without any touchdowns but threw no interceptions. The only player that threw a touchdown was BYU junior wide receiver Aleva Hifo for 31 yards.

Some good news for Wisconsin’s offense is sophomore wide receiver Danny Davis returned from his suspension and had four receptions for 40 yards. With Davis back in the lineup and getting back into the swing of things, he will be a big threat for defenses throughout the season. Helping hands also come from freshmen tight end Jake Ferguson and junior wide receiver A.J. Taylor, making it difficult to game plan against a good receiving core.

In the last few years, Wisconsin has beaten Iowa both at Camp Randall and Kinnick Stadium to maintain possession of the Heartland Trophy. Will the bronze bull be leaving Madison this Saturday?

Iowa has played phenomenal games against highly-ranked football programs under the lights in recent years, and the games between UW and Iowa have always been battles. Both schools are known for its big and powerful lineman and similar offensive and defensive concepts. Wisconsin will be playing a mirrored version of itself, meaning it is going to be a hard-fought game of inches between the two parties.

With conference play beginning, Wisconsin has to play with better focus and discipline on its gameplay. UW needs to get everyone healthy and prepared because these rivalry games are no walk in the park. These games decide the men amongst the boys. Having a young defense, Wisconsin will have a difficult time against the receiving core and the leadership of Stanley. They will need to be able to get off the field by winning the third-down conversions. Offensively, the Badgers need to produce when the opportunity arises. The Iowa defense will play physical and smart so Hornibrook and the receiving core will need to help out Jonathon Taylor if they want to win this game.

Wisconsin did not play “Wisconsin Football” last weekend and it cost them. The loss to BYU hopefully is an eye-opener as a whole, especially since a lot of goals are still obtainable with plenty of season left to recover. Only the UW players can decide where they want to be at the end of the season. Is it holding the Big Ten Championship Trophy? Or looking on from home, watching someone else hoist the hardware?

We can only control the controllables in life. It is up to us – the players – to take advantage and seize the moment when it arises.  Expect a battle this weekend and that the Badgers will be ready to play.

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