The Badgers faced off against the Iowa Hawkeyes on a cloudy afternoon at Camp Randall Stadium, falling to the Hawkeyes 15-6 in a low-powered performance.
Both Wisconsin and Iowa struggled to find their offensive rhythm. Iowa began the game with a drive into Wisconsin territory led by running backs Kaleb Johnson and Leshon Williams, but they were eventually forced to punt.
When Wisconsin received the ball, they executed a series of plays to get their drive going, including an impressive 42-yard throw by Tanner Mordecai to Bryson Green, which brought Wisconsin into Iowa territory. Wisconsin head coach Luke Fickell made an aggressive call, opting to go for a conversion on fourth-and-4 to keep the drive alive. However, Iowa's defense held strong, blowing up a rushing attempt by Braeleon Allen at the Iowa 15-yard line.
After Wisconsin turned the ball over on downs, both teams exchanged three-and-outs. Wisconsin's defense kept the Hawkeye offense in check by limiting Iowa to short plays, consistently making critical stops on third and short. On the Badgers' offense, they played with a different approach from their typically run-heavy offense, giving Mordecai more passing plays.
As the second quarter began, Iowa's offense faced a familiar situation. Johnson rushed twice, setting up another third and short scenario. This time, Williams found a gap and ran 82 yards for a touchdown, giving Iowa a 7-0 lead. This touchdown would be the only one scored by either team.
After this play, both teams struggled to generate offensive momentum, resulting in consecutive three-and-out drives. Penalties plagued Wisconsin’s performance, including a 15-yard penalty for pass interference, another 15-yard penalty for an illegal block in the back and multiple false starts by offensive linemen.
While Iowa's offense had its own difficulties, their punter, Tory Taylor, delivered an outstanding performance. Wisconsin started seven drives inside the 20-yard line and three consecutive drives inside their own 10-yard line.
A series of injuries struck the Badgers late in the first half as Allen briefly left the game due to an upper-body injury before later returning. Then, with just two minutes remaining in the second quarter, Mordecai suffered an injury and did not return for the rest of the game. He was replaced by sophomore Braedyn Locke.
Wisconsin received the ball at the start of the second half. Allen got the drive going with multiple strong rushes while Locke looked comfortable in the pocket, connecting on several 10-plus yard completions to advance into Iowa territory. Although they had to settle for a field goal, it was a solid first drive from Locke.
Iowa went three-and-out, and Wisconsin once again continued to move the ball down the field. Allen had several runs of 10 or more yards, and a field goal by Nathaniel Vakos brought the Badgers within one point.
However, the game slipped away from Wisconsin shortly after. Both teams exchanged punts, but Iowa received the ball on their own 41-yard line and engineered a drive that resulted in a field goal, extending their lead to four points.
Wisconsin needed a drive to get back into the game but was forced to start on their own seven-yard line. On third-and-9, Locke dropped back and was sacked for a safety, putting Iowa up by six points and giving them possession of the ball.
It didn't matter, though, because both teams struggled with offense, and Wisconsin got the ball right back after a three-and-out by Iowa. Wisconsin slowly got a drive going, even converting on a pitch to Allen on fourth-and-1. Locke fumbled the ball on the next play, and Jay Higgins of the Hawkeyes recovered on the Wisconsin 39-yard line to seal the game.
Iowa would eventually kick another field goal, making it a two-score possession, and Locke threw a late-game interception, finalizing a 15-6 victory for Iowa.
There were few positive aspects of the game for Wisconsin, but notable performances included Braeleon Allen's 87 rushing yards and Bryson Green's 86 receiving yards on five catches. In contrast, Iowa's ground game dominated with Williams gaining 174 yards and a touchdown. Wisconsin, however, struggled with fumbling issues, losing two fumbles by Locke and one each by Chimere Dike and Allen.
Wisconsin will look to bounce back against Illinois next week as they scramble to keep their Big Ten West hopes alive.