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Wisconsin vs. Iowa: Classic Badgers-Hawkeyes rivalry renewed on road to Indianapolis

What will Melvin Gordon do for an encore? Which Iowa defense will show up? Will Iowa's passing game do things? Did Wisconsin just score again?

Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

One of the weird things that happens after a transcendent moment in sports history is there's usually another game. And it's like, Melvin Gordon is going to disappoint you.

It's just that simple. Not to say that he's going to have a bad game. But let's be honest: Gordon could have a great game and rush for less than half of what he did last week.

We'll talk further about that, because we're going to Iowa! The home of the Black Hearts and the Gold Pants. The Hawkeyes are one of the more mercurial teams that the Badgers will play this year, but they definitely have some pieces that will make things interesting.

For Kirk Ferentz's reputation as an old man who hates everything but scholarship punters and Matlock, he actually has an underrated passing game. Jake Rudock has thrown for 207 yards a game, completing about 64 percent of his passes and 12 touchdowns against four interceptions. C.J. Beathard might not have the "OR" attached to his name on the quarterback depth chart, but he's been more of an assist character than combo breaker when he's seen the field. It's not as "opposites attract" of a tag team as McStavoy, but they've been generally effective.

The Hawkeyes also have a lot of targets to throw to here. Receivers Tevaun Smith and Kevonte Martin-Manley join tight end Jake Duzey and running back Damon Bullock, and all have at least 30 catches. Damond Powell can also win a one-on-one matchup deep. Iowa's passing game doesn't have the star quality, but it's a passing game that takes what a defense gives it.

That said, Iowa still runs a Greg Davis offense. It doesn't have much tendency to attack downfield. And if you trust the Badgers' ability to make tackles in the open field, it's not going to be as much of an issue.

That said, it's worth watching to see just how the blitzing goes. Because Iowa can answer those calls better than one would expect.

Of course, there is the whole question of just how Iowa is going to run on the Wisconsin defense. Mark Weisman is a thumper at running back, but he became a tailback by meme-based necessity. So yes, he's a thumper, but going up against Michael Caputo and the cool playmaking linebacker corps is a recipe for a 20-carry, 30-yard sort of effort. Jordan Canzeri is more athletic, and since he returned for the Illinois game, he's been able to provide some lightning if what's between the tackles isn't what one would be hoping for.

In the passing game, you can expect the Badgers to do what they usually do. But they'll likely try to keep the passes attempted below 20. Iowa averages an interception per game, and is currently ranked 10th in completion percentage allowed at 51.7 percent. Add in the pass rush of Drew Ott (11.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 7.0 hurries) and Louis Trinca-Pasat (10.5 TFL, 6.5 sacks), and while the Badgers can take what they can get, the run/pass split for the game will likely be 70 percent to 30 percent.

Why? Because the better rushing attacks of the Big Ten have had good days against Iowa. Minnesota was able to go off and get 291 yards. Indiana's Tevin Coleman was able to get 219 yards and three touchdowns. And if you consider the Wisconsin offensive line is probably the best unit that Iowa is going to face this year, it's likely going to be a scenario where safeties John Lowdermilk and Jordan Lomax will be making plays. Add in the fact that cornerback Desmond King is likely going to be the last man between Gordon and so many yards, and the Badgers are going to go off and have themselves another good day on the ground.

That said, Iowa always plays Wisconsin tough. Truth be told, anyone who talks about a trap game isn't completely out of bounds. The Badgers tend to struggle early, and the Hawkeyes can get turnovers. But while there's likely going to be some stress and irrational panic, this looks like another game the Badgers will end up winning with some comfort.

Axe week looks like it's gonna be huge.