Four Factor Friday: Iowa vs. Wisconsin

Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Spor

An alliterative look at the keys to the game for Iowa vs. Wisconsin.

Let's get right into it.

Red zone defense

Let's face it...Wisconsin is going to run the ball all over Iowa. Last week, Northwestern had success running it right up the gut and the week prior, Ohio State had success running every which way. Wisconsin is a better rushing team than either. The key for Iowa's defense is to not give up any long TD runs by Melvin Gordon on a jet sweep, and to lock down once the Badgers are getting close to the end-zone.

Making Wisconsin attempt FGs is going to be a huge win. The Badger place kicker situation is currently in turmoil. The previous starter has been benched and in steps the backup, who has yet to make a kick this year. Before his injury, it was announced that LB Chris Borland was going to handle long FG attempts, but that probably isn't likely now that he is coming off a leg injury.

With big question marks at kicker, Iowa better be on high alert for fakes. Though it also wouldn't surprise me if Gary Andersen is quick to decide to go for it on 4th downs in Iowa territory.

Big plays through the air

In Wisconsin's two losses this year, opposing quarterbacks were able to put points on the board by throwing the ball well. In Arizona State just threw the ball a lot (51 times) and racket up 352 yards. They didn't have any passing TDs, but were able to move the ball through the air and then punch it in on the ground. Ohio State did things a little differently. They weren't able to sustain many drives against the Badgers, but did enough running the ball force the secondary to it step up towards the box. Braxton Miller was able to exploit that with 3 long TD passes (and a 4th that was short).

Iowa should definitely try to use its formula from the first have against Ohio State. Slow the game down, run the ball, use the TEs on short passes, move the chains, etc... But when Wisconsin adjusts and forced Jake Rudock to throw, Iowa will need to find some explosive plays. Maybe this can be the game that Damond Powell really shines.

Make Stave throw

Yes, this is obvious. Iowa needs to sell out against the run and make Joel Stave win this game with his arm. In Wisconsin's 2 losses, Stave has thrown the ball at least 30 times. In their 5 wins, he's thrown the ball under 30 times. So that's a pretty easy formula. Stop the run, make Stave throw, and hope he makes mistakes. Against Arizona State, he completed just 15 of his 30 attempts. At Ohio State, he was a little better, but threw a costly interception.

The good news too, is that Stave is not a mobile quarterback. His longest run of the year is just 10 yards and his rushing yards are negative on the year.

Iowa just needs to target in on Jared Abbrederis when Stave does throw. Abbrederis is averaging over 100 yards receiving per game and is a huge threat. Desmond King and B.J. Lowery are probably going to be asked to cover him man-to-man often as the rest of the D loads up against the run. The secondary was a lot better last week and will need to continue to improve to try to shut Abbrederis down.

Make something happen

I don't think this is the type of game where Iowa can just line up, trade blows, and win. There needs to be a timely turnover, a big special teams play, a long TD... Iowa hasn't used a trick play since the flea-flicker against Northern Illinois. This would be a good week for Greg Davis to pull something out.

Prediction

I don't see this game going much different from Iowa's last 3 games. The Hawkeye defense will be able to keep Wisconsin in check for the most part and the offense will find ways to score in the first half to keep this game close. But, once the Badgers start to get rolling a little bit with their run game and their 3-4 defense shuts down Iowa's run game, that'll pretty much be the end of it.

Final Score: Iowa 20 - Wisconsin 28

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