MADISON, WIS. - The No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers (7-2 overall, 4-2 B1G) held on to defeat the No. 18 Iowa Hawkeyes (6-3 overall, 3-3 B1G), 24-22, to keep the Heartland Trophy, despite a slow start and penalty issues, behind a strong offensive showing on the ground.
Wisconsin was penalized frequently in the first quarter, having five calls go against them (four on offense), which delayed two drives and led to a Collin Larsh missed field goal.
Wisconsin was going for it on fourth-and-two, in the red zone when it was penalized for a false start. The Badgers then had to settle for a 31-yard field goal, which was missed right, by Larsh.
Wisconsin’s only defensive penalty came following a Jack Coan fumble which left Iowa with a short field. The penalty was defensive holding, which moved Iowa half the distance to the goal. However, the Wisconsin defense held Iowa to only a Keith Duncan field goal.
Overall, Wisconsin was penalized eight times for 63 yards, compared to Iowa’s three penalties for 25 yards.
Iowa’s first penalty of the game came on a Coan pass attempt to Quintez Cephus along the sideline which led to Wisconsin’s first score of the game.
Cephus was knocked down as the pass was heading into the end zone. Following the 15-yard penalty, Wisconsin took advantage as Danny Davis III took a jet sweep into the end zone from 17 yards out which was his first score of the season.
Following another Duncan field goal, this time from 40 yards out, Wisconsin went on a 13-play, 76-yard driving, covering just over six minutes which was capped off by Davis’ second score of the game.
This time, Coan found Davis on a 4-yard completion on a play-action pass, following a fake handoff to Taylor, which the Iowa defense fell for.
Entering the top-25 matchup Davis had zero touchdowns on the season.
Wisconsin’s second score of the game came when Coan found Cephus for a 27-yard completion, capping off a 4-play, 86-yard drive. Coan and Cephus also connected on a 52-yard completion on the drive as well, giving Cephus two receptions for 77 yards on the drive alone.
Cephus led Wisconsin in receiving in the game with five receptions for 94 yards.
Coan finished the game with 173 passing yards (16-for-25) and the two turnovers.
Iowa answered the Cephus touchdown, with a 9-play, 75-yard drive, which ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Nate Stanley to Nico Ragaini. This was the second time in the game that Iowa had a goal-to-go situation. Previously they were unable to capitalize and ended their drive with a field goal.
Following the Ragaini score, Coan committed his second turnover of the game, this time with an interception which was secured by Iowa defensive back Matt Hankins at the Wisconsin 47-yard-line.
However, Iowa was unable to take full advantage of the turnover and was only able to put three points on the board with a 39-yard field goal by Duncan.
A big reason Wisconsin was able to keep Iowa from capitalizing was it’s play when Iowa was on third down, offensively. The Badgers only allowed Iowa to convert just one of its nine third down tries.
With a chance to push its lead to two scores, Wisconsin drove down the field but on third-and-seven Coan scrambled, picking up just two yards, leading to a 29-yard Collin Larsh field goal, putting Wisconsin up by eight with 3:29 remaining.
Iowa wasted no time striking back as Stanley completed a 75-yard touchdown pass to Tyrone Tracy Jr., bringing Iowa within two of the Badgers at 24-22.
With Iowa just a couple of yards away from tying the game on a two-point conversion, the Wisconsin defense dug in and snuffed out Stanley’s quarterback draw.
Chris Orr and Eric Burrell teamed up on the stop, with Orr colliding with Stanley before the goal line and Burrell coming and finishing off the play, preventing Stanley from reaching the ball out across the line.
“When I hit him, I was looking at his legs and I’m like OK, just make sure he doesn’t keep going forward,” Orr said. “And I’m just hoping somebody comes up across because I didn’t want him to do the Brady like... just tap it over the goal line.
“Hoping somebody got him a little higher and stop the ball, and I just heard the crowd and I knew I was OK, and I knew we stopped him.”
As Wisconsin took over in an attempt to close out the game, Jonathan Taylor had arguably his biggest run of the game, a 42-yard run, taking the Badgers deep into Iowa territory.
Taylor who saved his biggest run for later in the game, played a big part in Wisconsin’s offensive drives all throughout, even though he did not find the end zone.
Taylor rushed 31 times for 250 yards, which was the most Iowa had allowed this season, the previous individual high was 102 yards, by Penn State’s Noah Cain.
As a team Wisconsin amassed 300 rushing yards as a team.
However, it was another back that secured the game for Wisconsin. With Wisconsin facing a third-and-one and only 1:37 remaining Wisconsin was in a position to apply the dagger since Iowa had just used its final time out.
The Badgers turned to fullback Mason Stokke who picked up three yards on a fullback dive, giving Wisconsin a fresh set of downs and Iowa no way of stopping the clock.
Wisconsin will continue their final push of the season next weekend as it travels to Nebraska (4-5, 2-4 B1G) to take on the struggling Cornhuskers. This will be the second in a stretch of four straight B1G West opponents to end the season.