Much like the Badgers the Hawkeyes of Iowa are always punching above their weight but have never been able to punch their way into the truly elite levels of the Power 5. Sure they’ve made it to New Year Six bowl games but when it comes down to it no one puts them in the same category as say Alabama, Oklahoma, USC, Notre Dame, Clemson, etc. This year has been especially rough for the Hawkeyes as it has been for the Badgers. They’ve already had as many losses more than halfway into this year as they did at the end of last season where they finished with ten wins. Hopefully, for the Badgers, Iowa will have one more loss than last year by Saturday’s end.
After a rocky start to their season, the Iowa offense seems to have rebounded enough to help their team get victories in their last two matchups. The Hawkeye's offensive attack is still based more around their ground game than their ariel attack. In previous years this has helped them by playing it safe, controlling the clock, and limiting penalties. However, this is a new NCAA and even the Badgers have learned that they can’t be the same ground-and-pound team as they once were without mixing things up a little bit.
Because of this lack of creativity, the Hawkeyes are dead last in points scored in the Big Ten. They’re not even putting up more than 20 points a game. On top of that, they’re also dead last in total yards averaging a little over 250 a game. But like Wisconsin, things have seemed to bump up a little bit more in the past two weeks. In fact last week alone Iowa had almost 200 yards rushing. Well, one player had over 200, but Iowa still found a way to lose enough yards from unplanned QB rushes and ended up losing almost 40 yards from their overall total. Either way, it’s nothing new from Iowa that Wisconsin hasn’t seen for the previous 100 years.
They’re just as good as they’ve ever been. The problem is the Iowa offense is so awful that no matter how tight this defense can keep things there are still never enough points on the board for Iowa following the final whistle. Their total defense is allowing just over ten yards more than their offense is creating; the Hawkeyes are giving up a little over 250 yards a game.
While they’re not phenomenal against the pass their run defense is as tight of a unit as the Badgers have ever seen. It’s certainly not going to be easy for the Badgers to do their thing. I love Braelon Allen and Isaac Guerendo but this Iowa run defense is keep almost everyone below 100 yards a game. While the Badgers do have more flexibility through the air, a solid ground game threat is needed to utilize the play-action offense.
This is a team that unlike Wisconsin hasn’t been able to break free of its old identity in this new age of NIL, flexible offenses, and utilizing the transfer portal successfull. Honestly, if the Badgers can score anything more than 25 points it’s almost certainly going to end in a victory. The Hawkeye offense has put up points the last two weeks, but I imagine Leonard will be able to outmaneuver anything that Iowa throws at this Badgers defense. I think the Badgers get a victory and keep a firm grip on The Heartland Trophy.