The Wisconsin Badgers (4-3 overall, 2-2 Big Ten) are on the oh so tiniest bit of a roll. They have won three games in a row, a winning streak that has included an elusive win over a top-25 team, and the running game is closing the gap on the defense as a certified “strength” of the team.
Awaiting the Badgers this weekend is the No. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes (6-1 overall, 3-1 Big Ten), a team built quite similarly to the Badgers. Iowa relies on their excellent defense and absurd turnover margin to make up for an offense that, yardage-wise, is worse than even Wisconsin’s.
Rally the troops and tighten the chinstraps! It’s RIVALRY WEEK! pic.twitter.com/EWDmEYzc01— Collin Wilder (@WilderCollin) October 25, 2021
Wisconsin will be looking to win back the Heartland Trophy, which Iowa won last year for the first time in four years, and continue to control their own destiny in the Big Ten West. The Hawkeyes have had two weeks to lick their wounds after getting destroyed by Purdue their last time out. Have they fixed the problems that bubbled up against the Boilermakers or are they starting their descent into another pretty good eight or nine win season?
How to watch/listen
TV: ESPN, 11:00 a.m. CT, Bob Wischusen, Dan Orlovsky, Kris Budden
Streaming: ESPN App/Watch ESPN
Radio: Badger Sports Network (Varsity Network App), Satellite: Sirius 99, XM 201, Matt Lepay, Mike Lucas, Mark Tauscher, Patrick Herb; ESPN Radio: Sirius 80, XM 80, Sean Kelley, Barrett Jones, Ian Fitzsimmons
Stadium: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wis.
Weather: Madison, Wis. (cloudy with a very slight chance of rain)
DraftKings Sportsbook Line: Wisconsin -3.5 (Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.)
Fun facts (according to the media guides)
- UW has won seven of the last nine meetings between the Badgers and Hawkeyes and owns a 9-6 edge in the series since the 72-pound brass bull was first presented to the winner of the rivalry contest in 2004.
- UW is 14-8 against Iowa since breaking an 18-game winless streak against the Hawkeyes in 1997. From 1977 to ’96, Wisconsin was 0-17-1 against Iowa.
- In case you need reminding, Iowa won last year.
- Dating to the 2010 season, Wisconsin has won 23 of its last 26 games with a traveling trophy on the line vs. Iowa (Heartland Trophy), Minnesota (Paul Bunyan’s Axe) and Nebraska (Freedom Trophy).
Trophy Season pic.twitter.com/Z36CXJ5Vlz— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) October 29, 2021
- The Hawkeyes are 23-4 in their last 27 trophy games (includes bowl games) and 20-4 in their last 24 rivalry trophy games (Iowa State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin).
- Wisconsin is unranked for the first time in its last 10 meetings with the Hawkeyes.
- With 94 all-time meetings, Iowa is Wisconsin’s third most-played rival. The Badgers have faced Minnesota 130 times — the most played rivalry of any FBS teams — and Northwestern 103 times.
- Overall, the Badgers lead the series 48-44-2.
- Recently-retired UW Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez began his college coaching career as linebackers coach at Iowa from 1979-86 under head coach Hayden Fry, who hired Alvarez after he led Mason City High School to the Iowa Class 4A state title in 1978.
- Alvarez and Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz worked together as assistants under Fry from 1981-86.
- Wisconsin executive director of football administration Eric Johnson spent 15 seasons at Iowa under Ferentz, including 11 as an assistant coach, between 1999 and 2013.
- Wisconsin senior ILB Mike Maskalunas and Iowa senior WR Henry Marchese were part of the same state championship team at Adlai E. Stevenson High School (Ill.).
- Wisconsin junior OLB C.J. Goetz and Iowa senior WR Max Cooper were prep teammates at Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha.
- Wisconsin sophomore K Jack Van Dyke and Iowa freshman LS Luke Elkin were teammates at Neenah High School.
- Wisconsin owns the nation’s No. 1 defense against the run, giving up just 53.3 yards per game and 1.9 yards per carry. The Badgers have held five of their seven opponents this season to 50 or fewer rushing yards, the most of any FBS team.
Happy Homecoming, Badgers! pic.twitter.com/tRDeMyNsHw— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) October 30, 2021
- Opponents have averaged just 12.1 first downs per game vs. the Badgers’ defense, the 2nd-lowest rate in the FBS behind Georgia (12.0).
- The Badgers have produced seven 100-yard rushing performances in seven games, with junior RB Chez Mellusi (four) and freshman RB Braelon Allen (three) both topping the century mark multiple times.
- The tandem of Wisconsin senior CBs Faion Hicks and Caesar Williams combined to limit Purdue WR David Bell to six catches for 33 yards last Saturday — more than 100 yards below his Big Ten leading average of 135.8 receiving yards per game. We haven’t talked about this enough. Hicks and Williams played REALLY well last week against the best receiver they’ll probably see all season.
- Wisconsin has allowed opponents to reach the red zone just 13 times (1.8 per game). Only Georgia (11) has allowed fewer red-zone trips.
- UW has limited opponents to 1.87 yards per rushing attempt, the best mark nationally. Iowa ranks 6th nationally and 2nd-best in the Big Ten, giving up 2.73 yards per rush.
- Over the last two games, Leo Chenal has tallied 26 tackles, 8.0 TFLs and 4.5 sacks.
- Jake Ferguson ranks No. 3 among active FBS tight ends, with 121 career receptions. He trails only Iowa State’s Charlie Kolar (133) and Colorado State’s Trey McBride (129) among active tight ends.
- Senior K Collin Larsh is enjoying a career season in his third year as the Badgers’ fieldgoal kicker. The Madison-area native is 10-for-12 (.833) on the season, with a long of 43 he has connected from twice.
- Iowa ranks second in the Big Ten and ties for third in the country in scoring defense (14.6). Iowa’s total defense (301.3) ranks fourth in the Big Ten and 13th in the country. Iowa’s rush defense ranks third in the Big Ten and seventh in the country (89.9).
Good morning from Madison #Hawkeyes pic.twitter.com/6Q6lEFSwQf— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) October 30, 2021
- Iowa leads the country in interceptions (16) and takeaways (21) and ranks third in turnover margin (+15). The Hawkeyes have 80 interception since 2017, more than any team in the country. Nine different Hawkeyes have at least one interception this season.
- Hawkeyes P Tory Taylor ranks fourth in the Big Ten averaging 46.2 yards per punt. Taylor has 12 punts of 50 or more yards, including a career-long 69-yard punt at Iowa State in Week 2. Twenty one of his punts have been downed inside the 20 this season.