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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, May 19, 2024
The Wisconsin–Iowa rivalry is typically decided by play in the trenches, an area where Wisconsin will need to bounce back after a poor performance against BYU.

The Wisconsin–Iowa rivalry is typically decided by play in the trenches, an area where Wisconsin will need to bounce back after a poor performance against BYU.

Hawkeyes group of quality starters giving Badgers a run for their money in the Big Ten West

The Iowa Hawkeyes (3-2 Big Ten, 6-2 overall) have had a good start to the season thanks to their running back Mekhi Sargent. The junior from Key West, Florida has put up some impressive numbers this season. 

Brandon Smith a wide-receiver from Lake Cormorant Mississippi has also been a huge contributor to the Hawkeyes offense. 

Mekhi Sargent is averaging 55 rushing yards-per-game with a total of four touchdowns this season. While those numbers don’t exactly pop off the page, remember that every school doesn’t have Jonathan Taylor. He leads Iowa in rushing touchdowns, yards, and attempts. Expect to see Iowa leaning on him for continued production on the ground in the upcoming game against Wisconsin. 

Likewise, Brandon Smith is averaging 58 receiving yards-per-game, recording four touchdowns on the season. He should be the main receiving target for Iowa and Nate Stanley this Saturday, seeing many of his targets on important third downs and in end zone situations. 

Iowa isn’t the most offensively adept team in the entire country, but it has come around somewhat in the last two weeks.

However, the Badgers top defense will pose the biggest challenge this Iowa team has seen all season. If the badgers hold off Mekhi Sargent and Brandon Smith to less than 50 yards each, Iowa’s offensive production will likely be drastically affected. 

The Hawkeyes don’t have a ton of production behind these two playmakers, so shutting them down will be key.

Mekhi Sargent has scored a touchdown in the last two games and ultimately has gained offensive consistency in finding the end zone, while Brandon Smith is coming off of a 100-yard receiving game. 

If the Badgers can end the offensive momentum those two are building and halt their offensive production, it could get messy for the Hawkeyes.

On the defensive side of the ball, two players to look out for are senior linebacker Kristian Welch and junior defensive end Chauncey Golston. Welch is leading the Hawkeyes defense with 22 solo tackles for a loss, and 25 assisted tackles. 

He provides strong defensive pressure and consistency that this Iowa team will need this Saturday. Wisconsin has thrived when Coan has plenty of time in the pocket and Taylor can wait to pick and choose his holes, so initial pressure will be huge.

Golston has a total of seven tackles for loss for about 21 lost yards for the offenses this season. Watch for his aggressive play that will put pressure on offensive linemen and the quarterback. 

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If Golston and the Hawkeyes can replicate what Chase Young and the Buckeyes did to the Badgers offensive line, it could be another long afternoon for Wisconsin.

If the Badgers offense is able to stop these two players, a significant part of the Hawkeyes defense will be suppressed. 

Overall, this Hawkeyes team is well balanced, but these key contributors are what truly drive this team. Especially after wins against Northwestern and Purdue, the Hawkeyes aim to continue their win streak while the Badgers are looking for a shift in the right direction after tough losses to Ohio State and Illinois. 

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