The Iowa Hawkeyes are the Wisconsin Badgers’ last true challenge on the road to a 12-0 regular season — and the Hawkeyes are hotter than ever. Kirk Ferentz’s team is coming off an absolute stomping of then-No. 6 Ohio State, but they’ll have the challenge of facing an undefeated Badger team in what promises to be a raucous Camp Randall Stadium Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. E.T., broadcast on ABC (live stream).
Wisconsin will have to find a way to carve up the Hawkeyes without several key players. Top wideout Quintez Cephus left last week’s game with a leg injury and won’t play. Senior Jazz Peavy will also miss Saturday’s showdown, putting the onus of the Badger passing game on tight end Troy Fumagalli’s broad shoulders. That’s bad news for a team about to face the defense that shredded J.T. Barrett’s Heisman hopes in last week’s 55-24 stomping of the Buckeyes.
Time, TV channel, and streaming info
- Time: Noon ET
- Location: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wis.
- TV: FOX
- Streaming: WatchESPN
- Odds: Wisconsin is favored by 12 points.
Iowa at Wisconsin news:
- Wisconsin has been able to overcome injuries in the past, but the Iowa game brings a new set of challenges.
Head coach Paul Chryst announced on Monday that linebacker Chris Orr and wide receiver Quintez Cephus, along with three others, are listed as out for Saturday’s game in Madison. They join tight end Luke Benzschawel (right leg) and wide receivers Jazz Peavy (right leg) and George Rushing (left leg) with that designation.
Wisconsin’s on cruise control in the West, a division the Badgers will clinch with their next win. They’ll play in the Big Ten Championship on Dec. 2 in Indianapolis, and if they don’t lose before then, it’ll likely be a Playoff play-in for them.
Let’s just assume the Badgers win their last three games. If they don’t, their weak schedule likely precludes them from making the Playoff.
- Iowa still has a chance to win the Big Ten West. A good chance? No, not at all.
Iowa Wins If...
...they win out, Wisconsin loses out, and Northwestern loses another game. Under such a scenario, it becomes a three-team tie atop the West and each team as 1-1 against each other. In that event, it would go to the (b)-2.
Iowa would then win the division because they’d be 5-1 against the division and Wisconsin and Northwestern would be tied at 4-2. As I mentioned at the beginning of the year, this is the red herring of “tough crossover games.”
The Iowa defense has one man to stop. Can they do it?
Wisconsin’s passing game has had some peaks and valleys behind Alex Hornibrook, but there’s been one man behind the success of the Badger offense in 2017, and that’s Jonathan Taylor. The explosive tailback ranks third in the NCAA with 1,368 rushing yards this fall and has run for 180+ yards in four games this season. If the Hawkeyes want to escape Madison with a win, it’s got to come at Taylor’s expense.
Iowa at Wisconsin prediction:
Ohio State never really established a running game against Iowa, but when the Buckeyes ran the ball, they typically had success — J.K. Dobbins had only six carries, but gained 51 yards. That’s a bad omen for any defense that has to face Jonathan Taylor. The freshman can push his way into Heisman consideration by running all over the Hawkeyes Saturday — and that will be enough for Wisconsin to fend off Iowa’s upset bid.