WISCONSIN AT IOWA
Wisconsin travels to Ames, Iowa to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in a
Big 10 conference game this Saturday.
The Big 10 has not been kind to the 3-3 Badgers this year. They
started the year out going 3-0 in non-conference play, including a
huge road win on national TV against the Fresno St. Bulldogs, and
then had a well placed bye to get ready for the start of conference
play. And probably no tougher task in the Big 10 then to have to
start off with Michigan, Ohio St and Penn St back to back to back.
The good thing is that they had 2 of those opponents at home, but it
didn’t matter as they dropped all 3 games to go to 0-3 in the
conference and ruin any hopes of a Big 10 title. They probably
should have won the first two games against Michigan and Ohio St. In
the Michigan game they were up 19-0 at the half, but they gave up 27
2nd half points, including 20 in the 4th Q, to fall behind by 8. A
missed 2 pt conversion following a Badger TD with just seconds
remaining sealed their fate as they lost a close one 27-25. In the
Ohio St game, Wisconsin held a 4 pt lead with just 6:30 left in the
game, but they let the Buckeyes drive 80 yds to take a 20-17 lead
with just a minute to play. In the Penn St game they were just plain
out-matched, so I won’t even talk about that one. But the bottom
line is, they could have easily won two of those games and been 5-1
going into this match-up with Iowa.
The Badgers are led by QB Allan Evridge, who has been pretty
mediocre at best. He has completed just 53.8% of his attempts for
949 yds and 5 TD’s, but he has also thrown 5 picks. Four of those
INT’s have been in the last 3 games. In fact, turnovers have been a
big part of their problem lately considering that they turned the
ball over 10 times in those 3 losses. The Badgers like to throw to
the tight end and, as a result, TE Travis Beckum leads the receiving
corps with 17 receptions for 207 yds and fellow TE Garrett Graham
leads in TD’s with 3, to go along with his 12 receptions for 177
yds. In fact, the two TE’s are often used in tandem on the same
play. In addition, WR’s David Gilreath and Kyle Jeffereson have
combined for 26 receptions for 338 yds and a TD.
Where Wisconsin excels though is in the running game where PJ Hill
leads the attack with 570 yds and 5 TD’s, and a 4.6 YPC average.
Also contributing to the ground game are John Clay (303 yds, 4 TD’s,
6.2 YPC) and Zach Brown (185 yds, 2 TD’s, 5.3 YPC). As a team they
rank 2nd in the Big 10 with 200 yds rushing per game. Of course it
helps to run behind an offensive line full of 300 pounders.
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The defense boasts 9 returning starters from a unit that ranked 38th
overall in the nation last year. This year they are allowing
opposing QB’s to complete just 54% of their attempts for right at
200 yds per game on average, and have allowed just 5 passing TD’s in
6 games, with 8 INT’s to their credit. Their rushing defense has
been victimized a bit as they are giving up around 120 yds per game
and an average carry of 3.75 yds, plus they have allowed 10 rushing
The 4-3 Iowa Hawkeyes have followed a similar road as the Badgers
this year. Their 4 wins have come against pretty easy competition,
but they have lost their 3 toughest match-ups against Pittsburgh,
Northwestern and Michigan St. The 3 losses have been by a total of
just 9 pts though so, like Wisconsin, they could have been coming
into this game in much better shape record-wise. Turnovers have
plagued Iowa also as they have turned the ball over 8 times in their
last 2 losses. They are coming off of a big 45-9 road win at Indiana
though, where they didn’t have a single turnover, so they do come in
having a little momentum.
Iowa started off the year utilizing the QB tandem of Jake
Christensen and Ricky Stanzi fairly equally for the first 4 games of
the season. But the nod has gone to Ricky Stanzi in the last 3
games. As the lone starter, Stanzi has gone just 1-2 but he has
completed 66% of his attempts for 580 yds, 4 TD’s and 2 INT’s.
Overall he has completed 64% of his attempts for 1006 yds, 7 TD’s
and 4 INT’s. He’s got 3 solid targets in WR’s Andy Brodell (24 rec.
for 373 yds and 3 TD’s) and Darrell Johnson-Koulianos (21 rec. for
274 yds and 1 TD), and in big TE Brandon Myers (20 rec. for 266 yds
and 3 TD’s). RB Shonn Greene is a workhorse at running back as he
has amassed 152 carries for 937 yds and 6 TD’s already, good enough
to rank 6th nationally in total rushing yardage. Freshman RB Jewel
Hampton has surprised a little by chipping in 52 carries for 268 yds
and 5 TD’s himself. The offensive line can be thanked for much of
the success as it is a pretty veteran unit that has returned all 5
starters from last year and includes lots of experience with 3 Jrs.
and a Sr. Overall a very balanced offense with 1313 yards and 14
TD’s on the ground, and 1399 yards and 9 TD’s through the air.
The Iowa defensive unit returns just 5 starters from last year’s
group that ranked 36th nationally (24th vs the rush, 62nd vs the
pass). This year they are only giving up a little over 10 pts per
game, but if you throw out the patsies then it’s more like 19.5.
Actually, if you look at the offensive and defensive statistics
within the Big 10, Iowa and Wisconsin are extremely similar in most
categories. Both teams have played several very close games this
year and both teams have the defense to keep them in most games. The
last 2 meetings between the two have been decided by 4 pts or less
and both have been Badger wins. Also, the under is 7-3 in the last
10 meetings between these teams. When you are getting 4 pts, unders
are a good thing because it means less scoring. The ATS record for
Wisconsin is not pretty lately as they are just 1-7 ATS in their
last 8 road games, and 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games overall. But
Wisconsin is 4-0 SU and ATS in their last 4 games following a 3 game
losing streak. They are 5-2 ATS their last 7 games after a loss as
an underdog. I don’t know if this year is an anomaly or what, but
prior to this year they were 12-3 SU against conference opponents.
This team returned 9 starters on both sides of the ball. They have
obviously not been playing up to their capabilities. Two of those
Big 10 games could have been wins, and probably should have. I can’t
believe they won’t turn this around. The toughest part of their
schedule is behind them and I think we are getting a lot of value
here with the Badgers getting 4 pts.
If they had been able to hold on against Michigan and Ohio St, they
would likely be the 4 pt favorites here. The Hawkeyes are just 3-7
ATS in their last 10 roles as home favorite. They are just 4-13 ATS
in their last 17 roles as a favorite overall. They are 6-10 ATS in
their last 16 games vs conference opponents. And they are 4-6 ATS
their last 10 home games vs a conference opponent. I think Wisconsin
can certainly keep this game within 4 pts, if not have a chance for
the SU win. This team has the tools to win out as the toughest games
are behind them. A 9-3 record would no doubt qualify them for a
decent bowl game so they certainly have something left to shoot for.
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