Iowa Hawkeye Football Schedule Prep: Week 9 vs. Wisconsin

Each Monday, we'll look ahead game by game with a brief preview of the 2024 football schedule. In Week 9, the Hawkeyes renew their rivalry with the Wisconsin Badgers at home.
Wisonsin v Iowa
Wisonsin v Iowa / Matthew Holst/GettyImages

In Week 9, the Iowa Hawkeyes will host the Wisconsin Badgers for the 98th meeting for the Heartland Trophy in Iowa's blackout game.

It should come as no surprise, but Wisconsin mirrors Iowa in many ways heading into the 2024 season. Both programs have questionable offenses, and face near-impossible odds of winning the Big Ten, but have a reasonable path to cracking the expanded College Football Playoff.

Of course, the loser of the game can kiss a spot in the playoffs goodbye. That said, Wisconsin does have Alabama, USC and Penn State on the schedule before they make the trip to Iowa City, so they are more likely to be in a position to spoil Iowa's chances.

The Badgers are coming off a 7-6 record in Luke Fickell's first season with the program, which ended with a 35-31 loss to LSU in the ReliaQuest Bowl.

Starting with the Badgers offense, Wisconsin saw solid production from SMU transfer Tanner Mordecai in 2023, but it didn't translate to points or wins. They're hoping Miami transfer Tyler Van Dyke has more success in an offense that lacked overall consistency a year ago.

Much like Iowa is with Cade McNamara, the Badgers will go as far as the former Hurricane can take them. Van Dyke has been one of the top names in college football in the past, but the wheels fell off (again) at Miami while he was there.

Wisconsin was 7-0 in games where they ran the ball 35+ times and 0-6 when they didn't. As a team that usually sports one of the better offensive lines in the country, they'll likely be looking to establish the run at a better rate in 2024. Chez Mellusi will be the headliner after totaling over 300 rushing yards and four scores last season while Oklahoma transfer Tawee Walker will complement him off of a 500+ yard season with seven touchdowns in 2023.

Defensively, Wisconsin is a step down from Iowa but still has a talented unit. That said, they struggled to defend the pass consistently last year while the most talented quarterback they faced was Washington State's Cam Ward.

Their collective strength will be in the front seven, though their best defensive pieces are defensive backs Hunter Wohler at safety and Ricardo Hallman at corner. Wohler led the team in tackles with 120 last year along with two interceptions while Hallman had seven picks himself.

Wisconsin could be a national surprise or one of the better sub-10-win teams in the country. It all depends how they perform against a fairly tough schedule. Even if they walk into Kinnick Stadium at 5-3 (a very real possibility), they will not lay down for Iowa.

The Badgers lead the rivalry series at 49-46-2 and are on a two-game losing streak as they look for that 50th win before the 100th meeting in 2026.

Every game is a must-win, but this rivalry game will test their potential to make a case for the postseason down the final stretch of the regular season. From here, Iowa's schedule gets a bit easier on paper, so they cannot afford a loss to the Badgers.

The game is set for November 2 with the kickoff time and television and streaming channels to be announced at a later date.

You can check out last week's early preview against Northwestern here.

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