As much as it pains me to say it, Wisconsin football has been better than Iowa football the last number of years. Even when the Hawks have outplayed the Badgers, the Hawkeyes have come up short. Saturday will be a great opportunity for the good guys to get some payback against Bucky. After all, the entire Wisconsin athletic department was built by a Hawkeye. You’re welcome.
Wisconsin comes into the contest sporting the best defense in college football. The Badgers are allowing a minuscule 229.2 yards per game. I’m no math expert, but dang that’s impressive. The next closest team is Marshall which allows 253.9 yards. That’s more than two first downs. Statistically speaking that’s a whole big bunch. As a comparison, our Hawkeyes, and we can agree we have a salty bunch on that side of the ball, are giving up 326.4 total yards a game. That puts the Hawks at #16 in the country.
Hawks Total Yards vs Badgers the Last Three Years
2019 295 yards
2018 404 yards
2017 66 yards (not a typo - yikes!)
So what went right in 2018? First of all, Nate Stanley threw for 256 yards, 2 TD’s, 1 INT. Ivory Kelly-Martin ran for 72 yards (5.1) and Toren Young gained 34 on the ground (5.7). Also of note, T.J. Hockenson had 125 yard receiving and Noah Fant caught 2 TD’s. The names have changed, but Iowa can get Tyler Goodson and Mekhi Sargent going. Spencer Petras showed strides in becoming an effective Big Ten quarterback against Illinois, but the Badgers are no Illinois. Finally, Sam LaPorta and Shaun Beyer are becoming the next very good/great tight ends at Tight End University.
Limit Mistakes and Create Turnovers
The Iowa / Wisconsin game is typically a close contest. Bucky has created and taken advantage of a few plays here and there that have made the difference. I’m going to predict (pretty safe assumption, but still) that whoever wins the turnover battle walks away with the Heartland Trophy. Oh, and by the way. Watch the fake punt! (That one still hurts.)