No. 8 Wisconsin (9-0, 6-0 BIG 10) has its first chance to silence their critics who are calling out the Badgers for their “weak” schedule as they welcome the No. 20 Iowa Hawkeyes (6-3, 3-3 BIG 10) to Madison at 2:30 PM CST on ABC. Wisconsin is coming off a 45-17 road win against the Indiana Hoosiers in a game that was close until the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Iowa shocked the world when they beat then ranked No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes in convincing fashion at home 55-24.
Iowa will need to be focused for this one and not have any hangover from last week’s win. Wisconsin is motivated to prove the doubters wrong. If Wisconsin wins, they secure at least a share of the Big Ten West title and their fifth berth in the Big Ten Championship game in its seven-year history.
The Badgers rank 4th in the nation in scoring defense, only allowing 13.3 points per game. They are also 5th in total defense with just 267.8 yards a game allowed. Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley will have to figure out how to combat that Badgers defense. Stanley is 151 of 259 for 1,929 yards with 22 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Last week against the Buckeyes, he was 20 of 31 for 226 yards and five touchdowns.
Behind him in the backfield is running back Akrum Wadley who has 181 carries for 761 yards and five touchdowns. He also had a good day last week carrying 20 times for 118 yards.
Wisconsin has a very good running back in Jonathan Taylor, a freshman who has 12 touchdowns with 1,368 yards on 190 carries. Wisconsin will look to pound the ball and wear down the Iowa defense who’s allowing 147.3 rushing yards a game. Taylor is a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award. He also leads the Big Ten in rushing and ranks 4th nationally with 152 yards a game.
Iowa will want to stack the box to force QB Alex Hornibrook to beat them in the air. Hornibrook has had an up and down year. He has 15 touchdowns but also has nine interceptions.
A win here and Wisconsin welcomes Michigan to Madison next week in what should be a tough contest. Michigan could be back in the top 25 next week which would bold well for the Badgers who need quality wins if they want a spot in the College Football Playoff as they’ve been on the outside looking in for the past several weeks.