It wasn't the prettiest game to ever watch but the Iowa Hawkeyes leave Madison with a 5-0 record after defeating the Badgers 10-6 in a defensive tussle.
Not only did Iowa hold the Badgers just to six points and without a touchdown, but they only allowed Wisconsin to reach the red zone twice (and one was because of a turnover inside their own 30 yard line), caused four turnovers, and help Paul Chryst's offense to just 86 yards rushing. To give perspective, Wisconsin went for over 300 against Hawaii alone and Iowa had 99 yards rushing in the first half.
Another startling stat was Wisconsin's red zone offense. Though they only made two appearances inside the 20 yard line, they were unsuccessful each time, one resulting in a turnover and the other a turnover on downs. Iowa wasn't innocent in terms of their red zone offense, either, failing on their first two trips inside the Wisconsin 20. They scored on their other two possessions they entered the red zone, though, converting on 50 percent of their opportunities for the game.
Wisconsin often was operating their offense on a short field but each time was unable to muster or sustain any momentous drives. Credit the Iowa defense which has left their mark in each game they have played.
It's time to name some standouts for the Hawkeye defense and an obvious selection will be cornerback Desmond King, and deservedly so. He recorded two interceptions in the contest, just like his matchup against Pittsburgh, giving him five picks on the year. He's not just picking on inferior competition, King is shining in the biggest moments of the biggest games. He brought his best against the Panthers and Badgers.
Defensive ends Nate Meier and Drew Ott are a couple others who were huge for Iowa. The Hawkeyes got a lot of disruption from their edge defenders. Ott had one sack, two and a half tackles for loss, and forced a fumble. Meier had five tackles and was instrumental in causing the fumble by Stave in the fourth quarter.
Josey Jewell and Cole Fisher both recorded double digit tackle numbers, with Fisher coming up with 14 and Jewell recording 10. I thought Jaleel Johnson had an impactful game as always.
Offensively, there just wasn't too much to speak of. Some of that may be due to health and some of it may be due to the wind factoring in, particularly in the passing game.
C.J. Beathard and Joel Stave were both off the mark today. Beathard admitted after the game that it was hard to judge and predict what the wind was going to do from play to play. The Hawkeyes' signal caller was 9-21 for 77 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He did just enough, and made fewer mistakes than Stave.
Beathard's leading receiver was Matt VandeBerg. The always reliable wideout had six of the nine Iowa receptions, totaling 61 of the 77 yards.
The running game fared much better as senior running back Jordan Canzeri continued the year's early success by rushing the ball 26 times for 125 yards. He had four touchdowns against North Texas but was unable to find the end zone against the Badgers.
Iowa was outgained in the total yards column but made fewer mistakes and turned the ball over less, ran the ball better, and was more efficient in the red zone. Winning the turnover margin, playing smarter, and running the ball is a good recipe for success and it got the job done in Madison.
The Hawkeyes improve to 5-0 as they enter homecoming. They'll host Illinois next Saturday in Kinnick Stadium.