Similar to last year, the team no one expected to win the Big Ten West is leading by two games (Minnesota). Iowa and Wisconsin still have a chance to take it, but it’ll require a win in this matchup because three losses isn’t going to cut it. Playing at home, the Badgers were -9.5 point favorites with an over/under of 38 early in the week.
If Iowa is to have a chance, this game has to be low scoring. That happened in its two losses, though its offense did nothing and has done nothing with 61 points in its last four games.
In addition to struggling against good defenses, the Hawkeyes barely beat the Boilers 26-20 at home. It won’t be easy for them to score more than 10 points in this game with 20 points a stretch. Wisconsin needs to get back on track after road losses against Illinois and Ohio State.
The Badgers at least have something going in their favor in that they’ve dominated the likes of Michigan and Michigan State at home and that’s where most of their backers will look.
The Badgers are still allowing the fewest yards per game in the country along with 11.4 points per contest. That’s not a great recipe for this Iowa offense, which has struggled against almost every opponent.
Nate Stanley brings experience, but a new receiving corps hasn’t helped as he has just 10 touchdowns with five interceptions despite the rest of his numbers being similar to last year.
The problem is that the Hawkeyes aren’t running the ball as well, averaging 3.9 yards per carry as a team. Neither Mekhi Sargent nor Toren Young have more than 500 rushing yards and it’d be a surprise if either of them surpassed 50 yards in this game.
The winner will be decided by Wisconsin’s offense because Iowa’s strong suit is the defensive side. The Hawkeyes are actually allowing less points per game (10.1) than the Badgers with similarly dominant yardage totals, giving up 87.8 rushing yards per contest. Unlike Wisconsin in its losses, Iowa’s defense was able to keep the game competitive and that could happen again.
Jonathan Taylor has an awesome 1,009 yards and 15 touchdowns on 5.7 yards per carry, but he’s had issues the last few games. He’s failed to average more than 3.1 yards per carry in two of the last three and Iowa is allowing just 3.1 yards per carry.
If Taylor struggles again, the chances will be there for Iowa to keep things close. That’s because quarterback Jack Coan isn’t the guy to break open a game.
He has fine numbers, completing 74.5% of his passes on 8.1 yards per attempt, but for just 10 touchdowns. If Taylor can’t find the end zone, it’s a rare occurrence for Coan to throw more than one touchdown.
There’s a chance Wisconsin dominates the defensive side and that’s enough to reach 20-plus points, which will probably be enough to cover. However, if Iowa’s defense shows up, it wouldn’t be surprising if both teams finished with fewer than 20 points.
Iowa has failed to cover its last four following an ATS win while the under is 4-0-1 in its last five following a straight-up win. The under has hit in Wisconsin’s last five games overall. The Hawkeyes are 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings between these schools played in Madison, while the road team is 9-3 ATS in the last 12 meetings overall.
Our Pick – Wisconsin -9