A week after losing in overtime to No. 2 Ohio State, No. 10 Wisconsin is back in action Saturday in a visit to Kinnick Stadium to play Iowa. The Hawkeyes have been up and down, but they’re a real obstacle to Wisconsin’s bounce back.
Wisconsin’s better than Iowa this season by just about every metric other than the one that matters most: record. The Badgers have lost their last two games, but they’ve done it by a combined two touchdowns against unbeaten Michigan and unbeaten Ohio State. Their losses have been as understandable as losses can be, and they’ve been competitive all the while.
The Hawkeyes are 5-2 to Wisconsin’s 4-2, though, and more importantly 3-1 to 1-2 in conference play. The Hawkeyes will probably get some measure of comeuppance in a few weeks, when they have to play Michigan, but they’re currently in a pretty good spot. Playing Wisconsin means a chance to entrench that.
How to watch, stream, and listen
TV: Noon ET, ESPN. The broadcasters are Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Todd McShay
Odds: The Badgers are about 4-point favorites.
Make friends: Get to SB Nation’s team blog chats: Wisconsin, at Bucky’s 5th Quarter, and Iowa, at Black Heart Gold Pants.
Three big things to know
1. Wisconsin has an elite defense. The Badgers are a bit better against the run than the pass, but they're good against both and have few holes. Iowa's a better running team than a passing team, and the Badgers don't seem like a good matchup at all. The Hawkeyes are most dangerous when running backs LeShun Daniels Jr. and Akrum Wadley get loose, but it's really hard to find daylight against Wisconsin's front.
2. Iowa can probably hold the Badgers' score down a good bit, too. Wisconsin's offense isn't nearly as good as its defense, Iowa's only given up 19 points per game, and the Iowa secondary doesn't look likely to get bitten against Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook. This game will feature a great deal of running, which should hold down the number of possessions and result in a low-scoring contest.
3. C.J. Beathard might need to do a lot. Wisconsin's got more going for it than Iowa on the whole, and the Badgers' run-stopping should make life hard on the Hawkeyes' backs. The simplest path forward for Iowa is for its quarterback to have one of the best games of his career against a formidable but beatable pass rush and secondary. Beathard's got experience and the home field, and maybe he can do it.