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Wisconsin football: How you doing...Iowa

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A look at Iowa’s season to this point.

Purdue v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Our “how you doing” feature is back for year three! Each week we at B5Q will review how each of Wisconsin’s opponents has fared heading into their contest with the Badgers.

Following a big road win over Purdue last weekend, the Wisconsin Badgers (4-3 overall, 2-2 Big Ten) will look to win their fourth game in a row against the No. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes (6-1 overall, 3-1 B1G) this weekend.

Purdue v Iowa
Running back Tyler Goodson is one of the Hawkeyes top offensive weapons.
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

In an attempt to preview what to expect on Saturday, let’s take a look at how Iowa has looked so far this season (rankings listed are from the time of the game).

  • Win vs. No. 17 Indiana 34-6
  • Win at No. 9 Iowa State 27-17
  • Win vs. Kent State 30-7
  • Win vs. Colorado State 24-14
  • Win at Maryland 51-14
  • Win vs. No. 4 Penn State 23-20
  • Loss vs. Purdue 24-7
  • BYE WEEK

Status of the offense:

Statistically, Iowa ranks below the Badgers in most offensive categories.

The Hawkeyes have relied heavily on their defense, and have converted when they have a short field. As a result, Iowa ranks No. 73 in in the FBS at 28 points per game, but are outside the top-100 in rushing offense, passing offense, and passing efficiency. In total they rank No. 120 in the country in total offense, averaging about 54 fewer yards per game than Wisconsin.

For the Hawkeyes it all starts up front. Center Tyler Linderbaum might be the best offensive lineman in the entire country, and they use him in unique ways in their running game. He is frequently on the move, pulling all over the field as a lead blocker. Beyond him, Iowa has relied on a ton of youth on the line. They have held up well most of the games this year, but they will be tested by Wisconsin’s front seven.

Iowa v Maryland
Center Tyler Linderbaum and QB Spencer Petras are two key players to watch on Saturday.
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Running back Tyler Goodson has shouldered much of the load this season, and comes into the game averaging just over 83 yards per game and has reached the end zone five times in seven games. Goodson is a talented back and he is averaging 4.3 yards per carry. Backup Ivory Kelly-Martin is also a good option, and averages six carries for 27 yards per game.

The play of quarterback Spencer Petras is best described as uneven. The pocket passer has made some tremendous throws in big moments, but has also struggled with accuracy and turnovers at times. This year he is averaging 190 yards per game through the air, while completing just under 60% of his passes. Petras has also thrown nine touchdowns compared to six interceptions. The 6-foot-5 and 233 pound quarterback is not much of a threat on the ground, outside of short yardage situations, where he has added another three touchdowns.

Iowa v Maryland
The top Iowa receiving threat is a tight end?!?!?!
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The top target for Petras this season has been, SUPRISE, a tight end. Sam LaPorta leads the team in receptions and yards, averaging 47 receiving yards per game. He is a talented receiving threat, and has consistently gotten better during his time in Iowa City.

Beyond LaPorta, running back Tyler Goodson is second on the team in receptions, while the quartet of Nico Ragaini, Tyrone Tracy, Charlie Jones and freshman Arland Bruce have at least 10 receptions apiece as well. Fellow freshman Keagan Johnson is a wildcard player to watch as well. He only has six catches this year, but he is averaging 31 yards per reception and has big play capabilities.

Status of the defense:

Iowa has one of the best defenses in all of college football. While they only average a shade over two sacks a game, their secondary is tremendous at creating turnovers. Through seven games, the Hawkeyes have grabbed a ridiculous 16 interceptions.

Colorado State v Iowa
Linebacker Jack Campbell leads Iowa in tackles with 67 this season.
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

The injury status of cornerback Riley Moss should be closely monitored, as he missed the Purdue game and he did not appear on the recently released Iowa depth chart. Moss leads the Hawkeyes in interceptions this season with four, and he is an experienced leader.

Beyond Moss, Iowa still has one of the best secondaries in the Big Ten. Safety Jack Koerner is seemingly always around the ball, and cornerback Matt Hankins is another tremendous cornerback. Koerner is third on the team in tackles and has added two interceptions, while Hankins has three interceptions as well.

Their defense was torched by David Bell and Purdue two weeks ago, but they still rank No. 4 in passing efficiency and overall Iowa still ranks No. 12 in total defense and No. 3 in scoring defense.

Linebackers Jack Campbell and Seth Benson have combined for 117 tackles this season, and are no nonsense run-stuffers. They won’t wow you in terms of sacks and tackles for loss, but they are talented players that fit exactly what Iowa wants in the middle.

Iowa v Iowa State
Cornerback Matt Hankins has three interceptions on the season, and is one of the Hawkeyes best defensive backs.
Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

Up front, Iowa has a deep group of defensive lineman that they rotate through. Lukas Van Ness (four sacks) and Joe Evans (three sacks) have gotten to the quarterback the most this season, but overall this group has been very good against the run as well. Iowa ranks No. 7 in the country in opponent rushing yards per game.

Overall:

Iowa has used a solid special teams and great defense to propel them to a hot start this season. The Hawkeyes have forced a ton of turnovers and have done just enough on offense to be one of the Big Ten’s best through seven games. Wisconsin will need to limit Charlie Jones in the return game, and take care of the football to win on Saturday. The Badgers and Hawkeyes have had some close calls in recent years, but Wisconsin will look to avenge a 28-7 beat down from last season. Iowa has one of their best teams in the past decade, and the Badgers will have their hands full in what should be a low scoring game.