It’s plain and simple here folks, the Hawkeyes can stop the run and the Badgers can run the ball with the best of them. The only question for Saturday morning is, who prevails?
Iowa comes into the game with the 12th best defense in the country in terms of points against at 18.1. Most of their success on defense is due to the senior line backing core that includes, James Morris, Christian Kirksey, and Anthony Hitchens. The trio has been dominant in their ability to stop the run.
This Hawkeye defense has allowed just two 100 yard rushers so far this season and hadn’t allowed one for the first six games of the year. They also hadn’t allowed a rushing touchdown in the first six games either. All of that changed on the trip to Columbus when Carlos Hyde hit the Hawkeye defense for 149 yards and two touchdowns. Braxton Miller also went over 100 yards with 102 on 18 carries. The Buckeyes have really been the only team to have success on the ground against the Hawks.
Now, this defense has slipped a little bit in the past. I mentioned the Ohio State game, but last week against Northwestern Stephen Buckley tagged the Hawkeyes for 99 yards. This makes you wonder if, as they get into the tougher part of their Big Ten schedule, they slip up a little bit.
If they are going to slip up and let someone tag them for a lot of yards, Wisconsin has the duo to do so. Melvin Gordon and James White are two guys that have big time play making ability. Gordon on the year has 107 carries, 1012 yards, and 11 touchdowns. That’s 9.5 yards per carry, and no that is not a typo. Gordon is putting up video game like numbers for the Badgers. James White’s number are quite as video game like, but he still remains productive. White has 108 carries, 672 yards, and 7 touchdowns on the year.
Wisconsin’s offense is 8th in the entire country in rushing yards per game with 297 and they are 17th in points for at 40. So, the Hawkeyes have their hands full.
Last week against Illinois, both ball carriers went for over 100 yards and both recorded a touchdown. Coming off big games like this I’m sure they would like to keep it rolling with their confidence level up in the clouds.
On the other hand, the Hawkeyes are also going to have to be effective in setting the pace for this game if they want to have any shot at winning it. Wisconsin’s defense comes in at 6th in the country in points against at 16 a game. A steady diet of Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock early should give Jake Rudock more confidence and more time to throw the football.
Wisconsin comes into the game ranked 24th in the country with losses to just Arizona State by two and Ohio State by seven. Iowa comes in with three losses on the year to Ohio State, Northern Illinois, and Michigan State.
The Hawkeyes are coming off an emotional overtime win last week against Northwestern, so Kinnick should be rocking again and with the Hawkeyes being the underdog, home field advantage can’t hurt.