Iowa’s season seemed to be spinning out of control after back-to-back losses against Michigan and Penn State, despite their hot 4-0 start to the year. In their last two games however, the Iowa Hawkeyes (3-2 Big Ten, 6-2 overall) managed to come away with a couple of important wins over Northwestern and Purdue, and regained their momentum for a matchup against the struggling Wisconsin Badgers (3-2 Big Ten, 6-2 overall).
The Badgers have lost their last two games, both on the road, and hope to turn their season around at home in a crucial Big Ten West contest on Saturday.
Iowa’s defense has been one of the team’s biggest surprises this season, as only four of their starters from a season ago are still on the team. Their defense is one of only five in the Big Ten that lets up an average of less than 300 yards a game — Wisconsin is also in the top five — though the defense also allows the third fewest yards per pass attempt in the Big Ten.
Senior cornerback Michael Ojemudia is tied for third in the Big Ten with two interceptions so far this season. He has had an impressive season for the Hawkeyes defense, as he’s been able to shut down opposing team’s star receivers.
Iowa’s defense hasn’t allowed more than 20 points in any game this season and have only allowed 81 points to opponents this season, compared to the 91 total points the Badgers have given up.
However, Iowa’s offense has been a disaster so far this season, as senior quarterback Nate Stanley has been unable to perform well in the team’s most important games. In their game against Michigan, Stanley threw three interceptions and 19 incompletions. Against Penn State, Stanley had another subpar game, throwing an interception and 18 incompletions.
Iowa needed Stanley to come up big those games, but he only was able to lead his team to a combined 15 points in both games. Stanley will need to come ready to play against the Badgers top-ranked defense if Iowa hopes to win.
Stanley will also need help from his team’s rush attack which so far has been incapable of performing in big games. The Hawkeyes running backs rushed for only one yard against Michigan, and only 70 total yards against Penn State.
A bright spot for the Iowa team is that their kicker Keith Duncan has been coming in huge for the team in big moments. The junior kicker has made 19 of his 22 field goal attempts this season. Duncan will need to continue his impressive start to the season to help his team score against a tough Badger defense.
This game is very important for both teams. The Badgers and Hawkeyes are currently tied for second place in the Big Ten West behind Minnesota, so the winner of this match will gain a huge advantage over the loser in hopes of trying to win the division. The loser will most likely be out of contention for winning the Big Ten West division.