TEAMS: Wisconsin Badgers (2-1) at Iowa Hawkeyes (3-0).
WHERE: Kinnick Stadium.
TIME: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
TV: Fox with Gus Johnson (play-by-play), Joel Klatt (analysis) and Jenny Taft (sideline).
RADIO: AM-920 in Milwaukee and a state network with Matt Lepay (play-by-play) and Mike Lucas (analysis).
TICKETS: Sold out.
LINE: Wisconsin by 3.
SERIES: UW leads, 46-43-2.
COACHES: Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst (36-8, third season; 55-27 overall) vs. Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz (146-97, 20th season; 158-118, 23rd overall).
LIVE COVERAGE: Follow Jeff Potrykus’ tweets from the press box.
SCOUTING REPORT: Iowa at a glance
LIVE SCOREBOARD: NCAA football schedule, box scores
Four things to watch
MATCH IOWA’S INTENSITY: UW defeated Iowa in each of the last two seasons en route to the Big Ten West Division title. The Iowa players know they must win this game if the are to win their first division title since 2015 when, coincidentally, they upset UW in the teams’ Big Ten opener. Iowa has toppled top-five teams at Kinnick Stadium in recent seasons and a night kickoff will give fans hours to work into a frenzy. The Hawkeyes will attempt to impose their will from the opening series. UW has to punch back and not back down.
“We know it’s going to be an electric environment,” Iowa safety Jake Gervase said. “We know as soon as we step off the bus Saturday night it’s going to be a little bit different feel than the first three games, just because of the stakes, just because of our opponent.”
PICK UP THE SLACK: Senior outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel, who suffered a right-leg injury in the opening quarter against BYU, is not expected to play against Iowa. That means UW will be without one of its most disruptive players on defense. Who will fill the void and make plays in the Hawkeyes’ backfield? The starters should be Zack Baun and Tyler Johnson, who suffered a minor left-knee injury in Week 2 and was in for only a handful of plays against BYU. Neither player can blow up plays like Van Ginkel, but both Baun and Johnson will have to hold firm on the edges and pressure quarterback Nate Stanley when called upon.
MAXIMIZE SCORING CHANCES: The Badgers had the ball for 10 series in the three-point loss to BYU. They had touchdown drives of 61, 65 and 82 yards, an average of 69.3 yards per possession. They gained a combined 177 yards on the other seven series, an average of 25.3 yards. “We had 10 drives and scored on three of them,” UW offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said. “We didn’t get it done in that game. We’ve got to be better than that. You’re just trying to teach them the value of each possession. Each possession is everything. You don’t know how many times you are going to get the ball. When you’ve got it, it means everything that you take full advantage.”
Iowa’s defense is allowing 13.3 first downs, 209.0 yards and 8.0 points per game.
DOMINATE THIRD DOWN: Iowa had 13 third-down chances in a 38-14 loss to UW last season in Madison. The Hawkeyes failed to convert even one time. UW’s 2018 defense isn’t nearly as dominant as last season’s unit, but the Badgers can do a better job forcing teams into third-and-long situations. Opponents have faced third and short or third and medium on half of their third-down chances against UW (19 of 38). UW’s defense must limit Iowa on early downs and then get after the quarterback on third down.
“We have to be strong on the edges, make sure they don’t get their stretch game going,” UW inside linebacker Ryan Connelly said. “We have to stuff the run and put them in third and long.”
UW has won its last four games at Kinnick Stadium – 2010, ’13, ’14 and ’16.
The last time the Badgers lost at Kinnick Stadium was in 2008. UW entered the day with a 0-3 mark in Big Ten play and with a new starting quarterback (Dustin Sherer). The Hawkeyes countered with tailback Shonn Greene and rolled to a 38-16 victory as UW’s season continued to spiral out of control.
Greene scored on runs of 12, 34, 52 and 34 yards to tie a school record and finished with 217 yards on 25 carries.
UW snapped its losing streak at four games one week later with a 27-17 victory over Illinois but went on to finish 3-5 in the league.
The season ended with an ugly 42-13 loss to Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl.
Did you know?
UW has a 14-1 record in road games under Chryst. The loss was a 14-7 decision against Michigan in Week 5 of the 2016 season.
UW has won nine consecutive road games since that defeat. The foes: Iowa, Northwestern and Purdue in ’16 and BYU, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota during the ’17 regular season and then Miami in the Orange Bowl.
Jeff Potrykus’ prediction
Wisconsin is ranked No. 16 in the Amway coaches poll and No. 18 in The Associated Press poll; Iowa is unranked in both polls. Forget about the polls. Iowa is playing better overall than UW so far. Iowa’s defensive front seven is good enough to slow UW’s ground game and get after quarterback Alex Hornibrook. UW’s defense remains a work in progress. Iowa will get a jump on the Badgers in the race for the West Division title with a 17-10 victory.