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Recap: Tanner Mordecai’s injury leads list of woes for Badgers in 15-6 loss to Iowa

It wasn’t a pretty game for the Badgers against the Hawkeyes on Saturday.

The Wisconsin Badgers and Iowa Hawkeyes faced off in a low-scoring defensive battle on Saturday, with Iowa taking home the win 15 to 6.

The game featured a total of only 24 first downs combined and a combined 6/32 on third downs, while both offenses lost top players in Iowa’s Erick All and Wisconsin’s Tanner Mordecai.

Here’s the recap of Wisconsin’s 15-6 loss to Iowa.

First Half

The Hawkeyes began the game with the ball, electing to receive after winning the toss.

They started with seven straight run plays, getting all the way down to the Wisconsin 43-yard line, battling for every yard they could get, before being shut down there and punting the ball.

The Badgers began their first drive fast and attacked the Iowa secondary, despite starting backed up in their own territory.

With big plays to Bryson Green and Will Pauling to put the Badgers deep in Iowa territory, Wisconsin showed promise, but bad decision-making with a false start and playcalling ended the drive with a turnover on downs inside the redzone.

Since that drive, the Badgers didn't get anything going offensively, tallying only 50 yards and five three-and-outs through the first of the half.

Similarly, Iowa struggled greatly on offense in the first half totalling five three-and-outs as well.

However, they scored the only touchdown of the game in the first half, coming off of an 82-yard rush by Leshon Williams where he broke through multiple tackles and put a nasty stiff arm on Badgers safety Austin Brown.

Just before the half, the Badgers offense had the ball in great field positioning near midfield.

But, on the second play of their drive, Tanner Mordecai came out of the game and went straight to the locker room with what looked to be a hand injury that came off a hit from an Iowa defender’s helmet.

The reins were then passed to redshirt freshman Braedyn Locke, who finished out the game.

Second Half

Following the disappointing first half, the Badgers started the third quarter strong.

On their first drive, they took the ball down the field 60 yards, entering the red zone before ultimately kicking a field goal.

They followed that drive with another 60-yard drive, despite starting deep in their own territory once again, which ended in a long 52-yard field goal by kicker Nathanial Vakos.

Both these drives showcased Braelon Allen’s power running, which was displayed primarily in the second half, and a couple of quick throws from Braeyden Locke.

Iowa, however, did not back down.

Following the 52-yarder from Vakos, the Hawkeyes drove just far enough, 28 yards to be exact, to kick a field goal, extending their lead to four.

Following that drive, the Badgers got the ball back, but were backed up to their own 7-yard line. A huge issue in this game for the Badgers was field positioning, as Iowa consistently looked to pin them deep near their own endzone.

They started three straight drives behind their own 10-yard line, which led to the easy field goal from Iowa, as well as a safety.

Late in the fourth quarter, following multiple three-and-outs from both teams, the Badgers had the ball at their own 13-yard line with a chance to put together a methodical drive and take the lead with a touchdown.

They started strong, with a Braedyn Locke pass to Bryson Green and a strong run with Braelon Allen, but struggled to move the ball past that before drama ensued on a fourth down.

Allen appeared to fumble on a toss play, but Wisconsin recovered and the running back got just enough for the first down.

However, after completing the 4th down, the Badgers' first play was a forced fumble sack that gave the ball away and essentially ended the game.

This battle really showed the weakness in the Badgers' offenses when playing against much better defensive teams.

In his first extended action as a Badger, Locke did not do as badly as expected with the circumstances he was given.

He came in midway through the game and tried to fit the system quarterback role to the best of his abilities; however, it was quite clear that Phil Longo had to change his playcalling and essentially dumb down the playbook.

The RPO action that helped create some variation in the offense was basically non-existent in the second half, as the Badgers had to adjust to Locke’s level of athleticism.

Additionally, Iowa placed more pressure on Locke, especially on longer third downs, which led to some three-and-outs, which stalled the Badgers offense as well.

In the unfortunate loss, the Badgers dropped to 2-1 in conference play, while the Hawkeyes improved to 3-1, placing even more pressure on Wisconsin to perform down the line as the team looks to make the Big Ten Championship this season.

For now, those hopes are looking bleaker and bleaker, and Saturday was a setback at a time where Wisconsin was hoping to break out on both sides of the ball.