IOWA CITY, Iowa – When two of the best defenses in the country lock horns on an brisk November Saturday, points become about as rare at Kinnick Stadium as a tank top and a pair of cargo shorts.
The Hawkeyes scraped together a pair of field goals by Mike Meyer and held Wisconsin scoreless for 28 minutes until a late touchdown gave the Badgers a 7-6 lead at halftime.
Iowa (5-3, 2-2) had held the lead at halftime in its previous eight games and threatened to make it nine, leading 6-0 late in the half. But the Badgers drove 72 yards in three minutes and took the lead when quarterback Joel Stave hit Jacob Pederson for a 44-yard touchdown.
The Badgers (5-2, 3-1) threatened again after an Iowa punt but Jack Russell missed a 54-yard field-goal attempt as time expired.
Both teams sputtered for much of the half on offense. Iowa, which has scored on its opening possession the past two games, needed three before it could march into field-goal range. After a short punt, Iowa took over on the Wisconsin 39 and took 11 plays to go 28 yards. The Hawks converted a 4th-and-1 from the 19 but stalled three plays later before Meyer made it 3-0 from 28 yards out.
Wisconsin came in ranked 2nd in Big 10 in scoring defense, with Iowa third. The Hawks played most of the first quarter in Wisconsin territory but had little to show for it. Iowa’s biggest plays of the half came on consecutive plays. The first was a 17-yard catch by Tevaun Smith from Jake Rudock. That was followed by a 21-yard shovel pass to Damon Bullock that gave Iowa a 1st-and-10 on the Wisconsin 17. Iowa was called for holding on the next play. Two plays later, Rudock hit C.J. Fiedorowicz for 16 yards down to the 8. Iowa gambled on fourth down and it paid off when Mark Weisman gained 2 yards to the 6. But the offense sputtered and a penalty forced Meyer to kick a 22-yard field goal to make it 6-0.
Wisconsin didn’t get a first down until 14:04 left in the second quarter. The Iowa defense quickly snuffed out that drive. Linebacker James Morris sacked Stave on 3rd-and-4 from the 37 to force a punt
Wisconsin outgained Iowa, 146-131, in total offense in the half.
Iowa safety Tanner Miller intercepted Stave on the game’s third play for the only turnover of the half.