Iowa running back Akrum Wadley vs UW safety Leo Musso
One key matchup to watch Saturday is Iowa’s breakout junior running back Akrum Wadley and his big-play ability going up against Leo Musso and his consistent touchdown-saving tackling.
Wadley has burst onto the scene as Iowa’s surprise top rusher. After rushing for seven touchdowns in nine games last season, it has taken the junior only seven games to eclipse eight touchdowns on the ground this season.
He has done so by utilizing his blinding speed to break off big gains and beat safeties after he gets to the second level of the defense—as seen last weekend in his 75-yard scamper to the house against Purdue.
However, Wisconsin has in its defensive arsenal the show-stopping senior safety Leo Musso patrolling the open field hoping to burst an opposing team’s big play bubble.
From Leonard Fournette's failed hurdle of Musso Week 1one, to J.T. Barrett being brought down by his shoelaces last week in a potential good-ahead score thanks to Musso, the Badger safety has stepped up when an injury-riddled core fails to make the initial play.
In addition to breaking off a 75-yard run last week, Wadley blew past Minnesota’s defense the week prior for a 54-yard run with less than six minutes left in game. Musso typically makes big plays down the stretch, so look for these two to find each other Saturday, with only one coming out on top.
UW wide receiver Jazz Peavy vs Iowa cornerback Desmond King
Wisconsin's junior playmaking receiver Jazz Peavy will face arguably his toughest test this week, as he goes up against the reigning Jim Thorpe award winner for best corner in the country, Iowa’s Desmond King.
Peavy is the only Badgers receiver with more than one touchdown on the season and has consistently been a key target for redshirt freshman quarterback Alex Hornibrook. The two paired up last Saturday against Ohio State for a timely touchdown as Peavy broke through the lackadaisical Buckeye secondary for an easy pitch-and-catch score.
Peavy also surprised the Buckeyes’ defense on the ground, as the receiver amassed 70 rushing yards last week—mainly off sweeps that utilized the junior’s speed and agility—as well. With time to throw in the pocket, Hornibrook and Peavy could recreate Peavy’s Wweek 2two performance against Akron, where the junior receiver had two touchdowns and more than 100 yards.
But Desmond King is looming in the Hawkeyes’ defensive secondary, as the ball-hawking senior corner who accounted for eight interceptions alone last year, will be poised to stop Peavy from making plays downfield.
The senior corner may have only accounted for one interception so far this season, but that pick ended in a huge touchdown for the Hawkeyes. That 41-yard pick-six proved crucial in stopping Purdue after the Boilermakers scored two touchdowns to pull the game within reach—showing the corner making plays when it matters most.
Much of King’s low interception total is a result of teams’ avoiding the senior cornerback. And while Jazz Peavy played well against Akron and Ohio State among others, he also was noticeably absent in Wisconsin’s loss against Michigan and its tenacious cornerback corps. So come Saturday, look for King to take away Peavy’s space and put a stranglehold on Wisconsin’s passing game.