Iowa-Wisconsin, 11:00 kick, BTN (Mark Neely, Glen Mason, Chris Martin and Anthony Herron on the call).
Let's face it; we have a pretty good idea of what's going to happen tomorrow. Heavy emphasis on the run by both offenses, 100 Year War-level battle for field position, and low scoring. We know because it's the same blueprint of every Iowa-Wisconsin game since Barry Alvarez was in short pants. Neither team has scored more than 30 points in this game since 2001. Only once (Wisconsin, 2005) has either team thrown for 250 yards this decade. This game might be done in less than an hour.
When Wisconsin Has the Ball
We have only the compiled rumor and innuendo of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel to work with, but it looks like junior Dustin Sherer will make his first career start at quarterback this week. Sherer isn't John Stocco; he can run a little. That being said, the quarterback draw and the zone read option are not integral plays in the Wisconsin offense, and Allan Evridge was a mobile quarterback as well (or, at least until he played that one season for Kansas State). Sherer looked competent if unspectacular last week (9/17, 115 yards, 1 interception after entering at halftime). In other words, he's like every Wisconsin quarterback ever.
Of course, Wisconsin's offense is predicated on the run. P.J. Hill and John Clay are running behind the biggest line in the conference, and don't expect the Badgers to go away from the run, regardless of the situation. That being said, Iowa has faced better backs throughout the season (McCoy, Ringer, and Sutton are arguably better than either of the Wisconsin backs) and no back has exceeded 100 yards against the Iowa defense. This might be the best pair of backs we've seen, but I can't see any reason why Iowa's success against the run would change dramatically.
When Iowa Has the Ball
Zone run, zone run, play action, zone run again. That is the story of Iowa's offense at Indiana, and that will be the story again this week. Iowa's greatest mismatch is the offensive line against Wisconsin's front seven. The Badgers haven't been particularly stout in its one run-in with a good back this year; post-injury Beanie Wells racked up 168 yards on just 22 carries. They did well against Penn State last week, but that was mostly because there was no reason to run when the pass was always open. This is not to say Wisconsin doesn't know what's coming from Shonn Greene, or what to do when he gets there. It's just saying that they are drastically undersized - especially at defensive tackle and linebacker - and no track record against straight-ahead running offenses.
Wisconsin's defensive philosophy in last year's game with Iowa was simple: stack the box with a safety or two on first and second down and force Iowa to throw, then bring the pain on third down. That philosopy might not be as successful this year, especially given Stanzi's ability to throw off the play-action rollout. I'd expect a MSU-like return of repeated pass plays on first down in an attempt to take advantage of the cheating safeties and force the Badgers back.
This one is simple: Iowa has the better quarterback, the better running back, the better receivers, and a comparable offensive line. Iowa has the better defensive front seven, the better cornerbacks, and the better punter. Wisconsin's only advantages are at kicker, safety, and (possibly) offensive line. Oh, and Iowa has home field.
If it weren't for the preseason hype, you'd feel good about this game. Take it from me: you should feel good about this game.
Iowa 17 - Wisconsin 9
...and by the standards of this series, that's a blowout.