Bring Down the House: Iowa vs. Wisconsin Preview

House breaks down the Hawkeye's game against Wisconsin on Saturday in his latest Bring Down the House.

Jonathan House, Sports Editor

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The Hawkeyes are 4-0 in the beginning of October. The last time they started the season 4-0, 2009, the Hawkeyes ended their season at the Orange Bowl.

This Saturday’s return to Camp Randall will be for the first time since 2009, where Iowa escaped with a victory. The Hawks have only played one road game, where they defeated Iowa State at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on September 12, but they also have another win over a power five conference opponent. This Saturday will also be Iowa’s first time playing a top 25 team, as Wisconsin is ranked 19th in the latest AP poll (Iowa also received 37 votes). Many people (including myself quite frankly) were doubting Ferentz’s coaching and the direction Iowa football was headed, but the first four games have erased a lot of doubt.

Things to watch:

  1. Quarterback play. C.J. Beathard has been a large part of Iowa’s offense. He has eliminated a lot of doubt as to whether or not he was the right man for the job. Beathard has six touchdown passes through the first four games. He also has provided an extra element with his legs; Beathard has three rushing touchdowns, and is Iowa’s third leading rusher with 151 yards. Wisconsin’s Joel Stave has also looked solid, throwing seven touchdowns and only two interceptions this year. However, unlike Beathard, Stave shouldn’t be much of a rushing threat. He has -32 rushing yards this year. (Keep in mind that this includes sacks in college.) I think if Iowa wants to win, Beathard will need to play a good game, as well as limit his interceptions, something he has done very well thus far.
  2. Special teams. Iowa’s special teams have been solid so far this year. Marshall Koehn has only missed one kick this year; a garbage time PAT against North Texas. Iowa also has mixed it up with two fake field goals. Desmond King also has had success in the return game this year, with over 300 return yards, and a kickoff return long of 40 yards. However, Wisconsin also has pulled off some fake punts against Iowa. If King can get some nice returns,, it could mean good things for Iowa.
  3. Rushing Defenses. I have to talk about defense somewhere, and the strength of both of these teams is likely their run defenses. Both teams have rushing defenses in the top 15 in the country. Iowa hasn’t given up a rushing touchdown yet this season, and its opponents are only averaging 84 yards per game. Wisconsin, however, also has only given up an average of 82.8 rushing yards per game. Iowa’s rush defense did look a little shaky last Saturday against North Texas. The North Texas running backs were able to get outside, and the Mean Green were able to rack up 183 rushing yards on Iowa.

The game on Saturday will tell us a lot about Iowa, Wisconsin, and the Big 10 conference as a whole.  I think that Iowa is much improved this year, but I think the Badgers get the slight edge, because they are at home. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if this one came down to the final possession or two. Also, keep in mind that Vegas has Wisconsin winning by a touchdown.

My prediction: Wisconsin 28, Iowa 24