The biggest game of this young season will be underway on Saturday when the Hawkeyes host Wisconsin. The Badgers have won five out of the last six games against Iowa. Wisconsin leads the all-time series 46-43-2. This one will be on prime time and this game could very well decide the fate of the Big Ten West.
“They’re a heck of a game, a heck of a test,” Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst said. “What’s fun about playing Iowa and what’s neat about the game of football is you earn everything that you get and nothing will be given to you. That’s a pretty neat way to play this game… When you play a good team, it’s never easy.
The Hawkeye offense gained some confidence this past week against Northern Iowa. Stanley threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns on 23-of-28 passing. Senior wide receiver Nick Easley rose from the dead and remembered what he means for the Hawkeyes aerial attack. He recorded 10 receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown.
Junior tight end Noah Fant also had his best game of the season. In just one quarter, he recorded five catches for 99 yards and a touchdown. He left the game after the first quarter, but he was listed on the depth chart on Monday so it sounds like he’ll be good to go for Wisconsin.
Sophomore wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette missed last week with a sore shoulder, but he is back on the depth chart. That’s big for Iowa because they’ll need as much speed as possible. We’ll know more about sophomore running back Ivory Kelly-Martin and sophomore right guard Cole Banwart on Tuesday.
When: Sat. 7:30 p.m. Central
TV: Fox (Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt, and Jenny Taft)
Radio: Iowa Hawkeye Radio Network (Gary Dolphin, Ed Podolak, Rob Brooks)
Line: Wisconsin 3.5
Weather: 73 degrees, Partly Cloudy, and 20% chance of rain at kickoff.
Junior weakside linebacker Kristian Welch has reclaimed his starting spot. He’s started in two games this season and has led the team in tackles in both of them. The Iowa defense will be charged with the difficult task of slowing down one of the most dynamic runners in Jonathan Taylor.
The Hawkeyes have been incredibly efficient this season against the run this season. Iowa is second in the nation in total defense (209.0 ypg) as well as rushing defense (42). Iowa has only allowed just 1.5 yards per carry. Jonathan Taylor has 515 rushing yards through the first three games, which is good for second in the country.
Iowa’s defensive line will have to find a way to conquer Wisconsin’s offensive line and get pressure on Badger quarterback Alex Hornibrook. If the Hawkeyes can force him to throw, they’ll have a solid chance of winning. Iowa managed only 66 yards in the 38-14 loss. There’s little doubt that the Hawkeyes are motivated for this game.
“That game hurt,” Fant said. “Our sights are set on Wisconsin. They are a good and sound team. They are contenders for the Big Ten every year. It’s going to be hard fought game, but all that is settled on the field. We are just going to go in there and do what we do.”
“You gotta be on point. That’s why those are fun games to be in, you gotta be ready for them,” Chryst said.