Front Seven - Iowa

Badger Nation's popular feature - the Front Seven - is back, ranking the top seven players based on performance, expectations and need for this week's game at Iowa.

Wisconsin used its first bye week perfectly by coming out strong against Northwestern to get a victory. They'd be well advised to do the same this week against an Iowa team suddenly holding some momentum.

Note to consider: Wisconsin has done a good job of being balance on offense since Big Ten play started. The Badgers have rushed for 1,067 yards in the first four games (266.7 yards a game) and thrown for 220.7 yards through the air.

The rankings for the Front Seven are determined based on performance from last week, expectations this coming week, and need. It was not easy determining who would be important in helping the Badgers to a victory on Saturday.

Last Week's Rankings in Parentheses

1, Melvin Gordon RB (3): After being a one-time Iowa commit, Gordon will certainly hear some boos on Saturday. Despite the possible distraction, Gordon will still go out there and play his game. The Hawkeyes on the season are giving up just 128.6 yards rushing, but are giving up 190.3 yards in their three losses on the season, including 273 yards in a 10-point loss at Ohio State two weeks ago. With Wisconsin wanting to have its running game open up the pass, Gordon will be key in accomplishing that and should see plenty of carries.

2, Joel Stave QB (1): Stave was able to help Wisconsin to its first road victory on the year against Illinois by allowing the game come to him. Despite having six interceptions on the year, Stave has done a good job of protecting the football on the road - only throwing one interception against Ohio State. There should be opportunities for Stave against Iowa, which is giving 191.9 yards a game.

3, Darius Hillary CB (NR): Hillary struggled against Illinois, allowing a 51-yard play and being called for two penalties. Teams are starting to figure that Sojourn Shelton is the Badgers' best cornerback and are going away from him. Iowa is averaging 208.8 yards through the air. If the secondary hasn't solved their issues, they will continue to give up big plays.

4, Beau Allen NT (NR): In order to help the secondary, the Badgers are going to need to get a good push up front and that starts with Allen. If Allen can consistently win his battles, it will allow the linebackers to blitz and will make sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock's job difficult. Rudock has thrown eight interceptions this year. If Wisconsin can get pressure, the secondary has to be ready.

5, Jared Abbrederis WR (5): Whether it's blocking or receiving, Abbrederis has been playing some really good football, currently ranking third in the Big Ten with 752 yards. Abbrederis was able to get involved early against the Illini, and Wisconsin will need that type of production throughout the remainder of the year. If Abbrederis can get behind the Iowa secondary consistently, Stave is going to have to make sure he hits him in stride.

6, Chris Borland ILB (4): If the defensive line can win the battle in the trenches, Borland will benefit greatly from it. He'll be able to shoot the gaps and get to Rudock or to the tailback. Borland like normal should be able to make plenty of plays to help slow down the Iowa offense.

7, James White RB (NR): White has stepped up this season in the passing game and helped take some pressure off of Abbrederis. Not surprising but White has done well when he catches the football out of the backfield, averaging nine yards per catch. White will also help take some pressure off of Gordon by helping open up the perimeter for Gordon.

Others to Note

CB Sojourn Shelton: Shelton didn't see much action against Illinois because he was able to shut his man down. Even though Rudock may go after Peniel Jean and Hillary, Shelton will still have to be ready because he's become the secondary's best playmaker.

TE Jacob Pedersen: Pedersen has provided the target most Badgers fans thought he would for Stave - hauling in seven catches for 77 yards and a touchdown the last two weeks. Pedersen stepping up has allowed Stave to distribute the football better.

LT Ryan Groy: Iowa's defensive line has 14 sacks and 40 tackles for loss on the season, meaning Wisconsin's offensive line, including its one senior starter, will have to make sure that he allows Stave sometime to get rid of the football.

NT Warren Herring: Herring has been one of the more consistent defensive linemen getting after the opponents quarterback; leads the team with three sacks and four tackles for loss. If Herring can get after Rudock it will allow the defensive backs to make some plays.

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