What: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Iowa Hawkeyes
Where: Camp Randall Stadium (Madison, WI)
When: Oct. 3, 11:00 AM CT
Radio: Badger Sports Network
Odds: WISC -7; O/U 46

Scouting Report: Iowa

Iowa rolls into Madison Saturday with a 4-0 record after beating four underwhelming opponents: Illinois State, Iowa State, Pittsburgh, and North Texas. Kirk Ferentz’s team has a dynamic offense that averages 37 points per game along with the nation’s 27th best defense according to points against.

Quarterback C.J. Beathard is an intriguing player due to his ability to throw down field and his mobility that gives defense fits. He has passer rating of 157.8 with a 68.2% completion rate and six passing touchdowns, along with three rushing touchdowns while running for over five yards per carry.

Along with Beathard, Iowa has a strong tandem of running backs in Jordan Canzeri (eight rushing touchdowns) and LeShun Daniels, Jr. Wide receiver Matt VandeBerg leads the team with 25 receptions and wide receiver Tevaun Smith averages 19.6 yards per reception.

On defense, Iowa is 12th in the country against the run, which will be an interesting test for Wisconsin running backs Dare Ogunbowale and Taiwan Deal. Although they’ve played against four average teams, they will still test the Badgers. Drew Ott, who may not play due to an injured elbow, and Nate Meier will anchor the pass rush as well for the Hawkeyes.

Kicker Marshall Koehn is one of the Big Ten’s best, as the nation saw when he beat Pittsburgh on a 57-yard kick as time expired two weeks ago.

Wisconsin: Keys to Victory

  1. Containing Beathard: The Badgers will have to contain the mobility of Beathard. Iowa has only given up five sacks so far this season, so outside linebackers Joe Schobert and Vince Biegel will be called upon per usual to get some pressure on Beathard. Schobert and Biegel, along with back-ups Jesse Hayes, Jack Cichy, and T.J. Watt, will need to set the edge and prevent Beathard from beating the Badgers with his legs. With added pressure on the quarterback, the Badgers will be able to disrupt Beathard’s usual composure in the pocket. I see this as the Badgers’ biggest key to victory.
  2. Running game: Corey Clement is officially in Germany to get sports hernia surgery, so his return is not by any means imminent. The Badgers will continue to rely on Ogunbowale, but Deal will be receiving the bulk of the carries after his breakout game last week. Again, Iowa is 12th in the nation against the run, so the Badgers’ offensive line will need to run block like they did last week. Walker Williams is expected to play, which will add more flexibility to the offensive line and give Micah Kapoi or Jacob Maxwell a breather here and there. The Badgers will need to establish the run early, or it could be a long day for them.On the other side, the Hawkeyes run a lot of play action established by the running game. Canzeri runs very strong for his size (he’s only 5’9″), and sets the tone for the offense and Beathard. The Badgers’ defensive line, safety Michael Caputo, and inside linebackers Chris Orr, T.J. Edwards, and Leon Jacobs will need to stop the Hawkeyes’ running game early to avoid any chance of Beathard getting comfortable.
  3. Stave: Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave quite frankly did not look very good last week against Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors do have a pretty good defense as we saw, but Stave will need to improve upon his Week 4 game against Iowa. In his career, Stave is 22/33 for 283 yards and two touchdowns and one interception. Surprisingly, he’s also rushed for 27 yards on eight carries. The Hawkeyes have a pretty strong secondary, led by cornerback and NFL prospect Desmond King. Stave will hope to continue to find Alex Erickson, but he will hopefully get a boost from Rob Wheelwright, Jazz Peavy, Reggie Love, Austin Traylor, and Troy Fumagalli, who is expected to return from injury. Per usual, the Badgers’ offensive line will need to protect Stave, who always plays poorly under duress. The right side with inexperienced right guard Micah Kapoi and newly inserted right tackle Jacob Maxwell (Hayden Biegel is out with an undisclosed injury) needs to limit the edge rushes and penalties, especially considering Iowa has 14 sacks on opposing quarterbacks this year. A strong game from Stave usually indicates a Badgers’ victory in Madison.
  4. Turnover battle: When teams are so evenly matched and similar, games like this often come down to the turnover battle. If the Badgers can force takeaways and limit their mistakes, they should be able to bring home the Heartland Trophy.

Prediction: Wisconsin 27, Iowa 21

Key Notes from the Game Notes

  • Since 2004, Wisconsin has compiled a 61-27 (.693) record in the Big Ten. Only Ohio State (74-14, .841) has a better conference record over those 11 years.
  • Senior OLB Joe Schobert and the Badgers rank fourth nationally in scoring defense at 9.5 points per game.
  • Senior QB Joel Stave owns a record of 24-8 as Wisconsin’s starter, matching the second-best winning percentage among active FBS quarterbacks.
  • Senior OLB Joe Schobert is tied for the national lead in tackles for loss, with 9.5, and is tied for fourth nationally in sacks, with 6.0.
  • Wisconsin is the only team in the nation to have not allowed a touchdown over the past three weeks. The Badgers are riding a streak of 188 minutes, 2 seconds without giving up a TD.
  • Riding a 10-game win streak at Camp Randall Stadium, Wisconsin is 71-7 (.910) at home since the start of the 2004 season. Nationally, only Boise State (69-2, .972) has won a higher percent- age of its home games in that time frame. Only Ohio State (73) has won more home games.
  • Wisconsin hosts Iowa in its Big Ten home opener for the 11th time in the modern era (since 1946), and the first time since 2007. The Badgers are 6-3-1 in their previous Big Ten home openers vs. the Hawkeyes, including a 17-13 win in 2007.
  • 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.
  • The Badgers own a streak of nine straight wins in trophy games, dating back to 2009. Between its rivalries with Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska, UW hasn’t lost a game with a trophy on the line since the Hawkeyes claimed a 20-10 win in their last visit to Camp Randall Stadium on Oct. 17, 2009.
  • Iowa sophomore TE Peter Pekar and Wisconsin redshirt freshman OL Jacob Maxwell were high school teammates at Greendale (Wis.) high school.

    Sources: ESPN, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Iowa
    Image: Helmets