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Sunday, May 19, 2024
Junior quarterback Alex Hornibrook struggled against Michigan, throwing two interceptions during a 38-13 loss.

Junior quarterback Alex Hornibrook struggled against Michigan, throwing two interceptions during a 38-13 loss.

Three keys to the game: After momentous upset over OSU, Iowa looks to clip Badgers


Let Taylor take over

Freshman running back Jonathan Taylor’s incredible season is no secret, as the Salem, N.J., native just passed the 1,300-yard mark last week with 183 yards against Indiana. This was his third such outing of at least 100 yards in a game during UW’s 9-0 start. In fact, he has three performances of 200 yards or more on the season, too. He’s a workhorse, so let him run and run often. He knows how to find the endzone — he has 12 touchdowns — and even when he doesn’t find the endzone, he’s setting up his team to score.

Don’t force Hornibrook outside of his comfort zone

Relying on Taylor to generate offense will only help redshirt sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook. The passing attack will face stiff competition in an Iowa secondary that picked off Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett to open the game and four times overall last Saturday. Hornibrook has been much more dependable than last year, but his arm is still not the focal point of the offense. He has more interceptions this year (nine) than all of last year (seven), although he was splitting reps with Bart Houston last year — this season it’s all him under center. Hornibrook knows how to control the offense, but depending on him to make multiple big plays might be a stretch. Let him feed off the run game before putting pressure on his shoulder. He can make a play when it counts, but you have to get him there naturally.

Don’t sleep on the Hawkeyes

Yes, Wisconsin is off to the best start since 2004 with their 9-0 record. Yes, for the most part, teams haven't been able to keep up with the Taylor-led Badger offense. The Hawkeyes, however, are not a team to scoff at. They blew out the No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes last weekend, improving to 6-3 overall, 3-3 B1G thanks to one of the best defenses in the nation. The Hawkeyes, led by junior cornerback Josh Jackson, allow about 18 points per game. If the Badgers plan to walk all over them, they may find the same fate as the Buckeyes. The playoff committee will make teams prove they’re worth a bid, and Wisconsin doesn’t have the schedule like others competing for a spot. All they can do is win — and win big — before the Big Ten Championship.


Keep a balanced attack

The Hawkeyes have a star in senior running back Akrum Wadley. He may be outshined by Wisconsin’s Taylor and Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, but he has eight touchdowns on the season, and they’ve come via both the ground (five scores) and in the air (three scores). That alone shows Iowa’s two-pronged attack. This doesn’t even mention the seven other offensive players who have scored a touchdown this season. Wadley could have success on the ground, setting up the air attack; Wadley could also have success in the air, setting up his big-run ability. Sustained success on either side will keep Wisconsin on its toes possession to possession.

Support from the secondary

On the first possession of the game in Iowa’s matchup with Ohio State, sophomore safety Amani Hooker picked off J.T. Barrett and put Iowa up 6-0 in the first eight seconds of the game. Hooker is one of eight players this season to have an interception for the Hawkeyes, and the second to have a pick-six. Hornibrook has thrown 16 interceptions in 20 career games, proving he can be fooled by strong secondaries. For Iowa, it’s a matter of putting the redshirt sophomore in a position to capitalize on an errant throw. The Badgers may rely heavily on the run game, but Hornibrook will be tasked with making at least some throws: That’s when the secondary can earn its meal ticket.

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Believe in the upset

Camp Randall is no joke. The stadium can get up there with the best of them in terms of intensity. Badger fans will look for their team to start of the season 10-0, on course for the Big Ten Championship and possibly the College Football Playoff. Still, the Badgers absolutely need to win out barring their softer schedule. They’ve seen some slow first-half starts and some close games that broke in their favor. If college athletics teach you one thing, it’s that everyone is beatable — Wisconsin is no exception. Iowa just crushed Ohio State’s championship aspirations, and nothing would be sweeter than to crush the dreams of a Big Ten rival and playoff hopeful for the second straight week.

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