The Iowa Hawkeyes will welcome in the 10th ranked Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday morning. They are looking to build off of their last two wins on the road against Minnesota and Purdue.
The Hawkeyes have a real shot to not only keep themselves close to the top in the race for the Big Ten West, but put their name back in the conversation in terms of national relevance.
The Badgers are coming off back-to-back losses to Michigan, which was on the road, and Ohio State, which came at home. Those are two very emotional losses for Wisconsin and you have to wonder if there could be any sort of let down from the Badgers on Saturday.
One of the reasons the Badgers are ranked inside the top 10 has been their defense. They make life extremely hard on opposing offenses, especially when it comes to running the football. They are currently third in the Big Ten in terms of rushing yards given up per game at 106. They basically try to make games as ugly as possible because their offense hasn't been anything to write home about this season.
The Hawkeyes on the other hand had an extremely impressive day on the ground last Saturday against Purdue. Both Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels went for over 100 yards as Iowa scored 49 points and beat Purdue by two touchdowns.
Derek and I discuss whether or not we think Iowa can breakthrough this tough Wisconsin run defense.
DEREK: Fiction. I don't think either team will move the ball much on offense. This has all the makings of a defensive game. Neither the Badgers or Hawkeyes will likely find much success on the offensive side of the ball, especially in the first half. Both sides could find breathing room in the second half after banging their heads against the wall for most of the game.
Wisconsin's defense has been fantastic all season. Iowa's has been fantastic the last two weeks. They'll try over and over again and because of that, the yards may look good. But at the end of the day, the yards per carry for both Iowa and Wisconsin will probably both be below average. Remember last year's 10-6 Hawkeye win in Madison? Expect this game to be similar with turnovers, penalties and other mistakes deciding the outcome.
DYLAN: I'm going to side with Derek on this one, although I did think hard about it. After watching Wisconsin play against Ohio State, I came away extremely impressed. Their defensive linemen are big and they take up a lot of space, which allows their great linebackers to go to work in defending the run and getting to the QB. It's Vince Biegel, Jack Cichy, TJ Edwards, and TJ Watt and none of them quit pursuing the football. They are tough, mean, and physical.
They made it tough early on for Ohio State and as good as Iowa's run game is, I just don't see it happening. It's going to be another defensive struggle in Iowa City on Saturday. When you consider how good Iowa's run defense has been in the last few weeks, it makes you think Wisconsin is going to have trouble getting Corey Clement going as well.
One thing I did consider was the fact that the Badgers are coming off two very emotional losses and could be drained, but I don't think that'll play a huge role on Saturday.
These teams play similar styles of football and they know each other very well. If you like defensive slugfests, this will be your game.