Preview: Needing A Similar Effort

Knocking off Ohio State was one thing, but coming back the next week and trying to do it again is another. No.10 Wisconsin doesn't have to beat the Buckeyes, but the Badgers will need a similar effort if it wants to down No.13 Iowa and become kings of the Heartland.

MADISON - The Badgers did it. After three years of close calls and heartbreak against Ohio State, Wisconsin got over the hump with a thrilling 31-18 punch-them-in-the-mouth victory over the then-number one team in the country that sent an estimated 35,000 fans screaming on to the turf and on the crossbar of the goal posts.

So with students and professors patting them on the back and saying congratulations, members of the 10th-ranked Badgers quickly pointed that while they got rid of the gorilla, the monkey still remains.

The Badgers will hope to avoid an emotional letdown when they travel to Iowa City and take on No.13 Iowa Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

"You can't control what outsiders are saying to you," fifth-year senior Scott Tolzien said. "We've got to really take pride to focusing on Iowa and it's all business when we come over (to Camp Randall). It was a great weekend and a great win, but now it's time to move on to the next game."

Preparation hasn't been a problem for Wisconsin (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) since the start of the season, a point UW coach Bret Bielema made and gave the example of his team going about its business in handling an inferior Austin Peay, 70-3, to close out the non-conference season.

"We talked all week about not having a letdown against a team that you're better than or that you should go out and focus," Bielema said. "They had the right response that week. They had the right response (last) week. I think they'll have the same response this week."

There's a big difference though between playing the Governors in front of an uninterested Camp Randall crowd and playing in Kinnick Stadium, which can be every bit as hostile as what the Buckeyes experienced Saturday.

"I graduated from Iowa," Bielema said. "They treat me very badly ... They're right on top of you. I think our kids will embrace the challenge. ... We have to explain to them and make them understand how that noise has got to make them play harder, play longer, play faster."

Iowa (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) is in the much better position than Wisconsin, excluding the fan support. Iowa is well rested, having had its bye two weeks ago and looked fresh after beating Michigan, 38-28, in Ann Arbor last week. The Badgers will take their bye next week after playing eight straight weeks.

Starting to get into a similar rhythm that they did at the midpoint last season, regrouping from some shaky non-conference wins to finish 11-2 and beat Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl, the Hawkeyes will know a lot more of themselves after this two-week stretch, as eighth-ranked and first-place Michigan State comes to Iowa next week.

Iowa also has Ohio State looming down the road, meaning the conference title will probably be decided through Iowa City.

"In our conference, the Big Ten is a lot like the NFL," 12th year Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. "There's absolutely no way to predict who is going to do what. That's just how football is. It doesn't always work out the way you predict."

Even though many consider the Hawkeyes front four to be even better than Ohio State's, the Iowa unit uncharacteristically surrendered more than 500 yards against the Wolverines (522). Still, the unit leads the Big Ten in scoring defense (13.2 ppg) and rushing defense (83.8 ypg), and it all starts on the defensive line.

Tackles Karl Klug and Mike Daniels have been clogs in the middle. Daniels is first on the team with eight tackles for loss followed closely behind by Kulg (six), who is also fifth on the team with 29 tackles. Then there is senior defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who is a class all by himself. Clayborn was projected as a first day draft pick, but came back for one more year and has registered 28 tackles and 1.5 sacks, mostly facing double teams.

Clayborn and his front line make up for a back seven that is still trying to recover from the loss of NFL linebackers Pat Angerer (145 tackles) and A.J. Edds (78 tackles) and cornerback Amari Spievey.

"He does everything," Tolzien said of Clayborn. "Physically he's a specimen and he's a worker. He doesn't take plays off and he's a special talent. He's a playmaker and finds his way to the football."

For years, the Hawkeyes' defense has been far ahead of the offense. That's not the case anymore with senior Ricky Stanzi having a breakout season. Throwing 25 interceptions through his first three seasons (an average of one of every 22.5 attempts), Stanzi has thrown 13 touchdowns and only two interceptions (only one of which Ferentz said was his fault).

Utilizing key receiving targets like wide receivers Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (25 catches, 404 yards and seven TDs), Marvin McNutt (19-353-2) and tight end Allen Reisner (19-229-1), Stanzi completed 70.8 percent of his passes and helped his offense go a perfect 5-for-5 in the red zone against Michigan.

"I think it's just he's a fifth-year senior and he's work extremely hard for a long time," Ferentz said. "He's playing with real confidence and confidence that he's earned. Ricky is a physically tough guy and, more importantly, a mentally tough guy."

Over the last few years, there have been fewer people mentally tougher than Tolzien. Completing 13 of 16 passes in UW's OSU victory, Tolzien has completed 70.9 percent of his passes this season, ranking second in the Big Ten and fourth in the country.

The Badgers are 16-4 with Tolzien as the starter over the past two seasons, two of those losses coming against Ohio State and Iowa last season. After writing one of his wrongs, Tolzien is focused on Iowa, a game in which he completed just 15 of 25 passes for 143 yards, no touchdowns and three costly interceptions in a 20-10 defeat at Camp Randall.

"It's going to be an old-fashioned Big Ten game," Tolzien said. "We know it, they know it."

For added incentive, the Heartland Trophy, given to the winner annually since 2004, will be up for grabs and will represent bragging rights for the next three seasons. With Nebraska joining the league next season, the Badgers and Hawkeyes will be in separate divisions and will not face each other until 2013.

With the trophy being in Iowa's possession two more seasons, the Badgers can't stand the thought of having it sit quietly there for the next three years.

"It's kind of disappointing because it is such a great rivalry," said Tolzien of the two teams not playing each other. "The teams are so similar year in and year out because of the type of football we play. It's going to be big, but the biggest reason it's going to be big is that it's the next game on our schedule. As the season progresses, the season gets that much more important."

No.10/11 Wisconsin (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) vs. No.13/12 Iowa (5-1. 2-0 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Saturday, October 23 at 2:30 p.m. CT

Stadium –Kinnick Stadium (70,585/Field Turf)

Television - ABC (Sean McDonough, Matt Millen and Heather Cox)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas) and Satellite Sirus (ch. 90) and XM (ch. 196)

Series – Iowa leads 42-41-2 (Iowa leads 24-15-1 in Iowa City)

Last Meeting – Iowa won, 20-10, on Oct. 17, 2009 in Madison

Series Notes:

Since snapping an 18-game winless streak against the Hawkeyes with a 13-10 win in 1997, Wisconsin has won seven of the past 13 meetings.

Including this year's game, one or both of the teams have been ranked in eight of the last nine meetings between the teams.

The two teams meet for the Heartland Trophy. Debuted in 2004, the trophy is the statue of a bull that measures 30 inches tall, 36 inches long and 18 inches deep. Iowa has won four of the six meetings for the Heartland Trophy.

Wisconsin Notes:

John Clay and James White are one of just two running back duos in the country to each average at least 80.0 yards per game. Their 1,356 combined rushing yards is the best in the country among RB tandems.

Not counting the two end-of-game possessions when UW knelt on the ball to kill the clock, the Badgers have posted touchdowns on their last 23 trips inside the red zone (3 vs. Ohio State, 6 vs. Minnesota, 2 vs. Michigan State, 9 vs. Austin Peay, 2 vs. Arizona State and 1 vs. San Jose State). Their TD percentage of 80.6 inside the red zone is second-best in the country. Last year, UW set a school record by scoring touchdowns on 75.0 percent of its red zone trips.

Wisconsin leads the country in fewest penalties per game, averaging just 3.29 penalties per game. The Badgers' 31.4 penalty yards per game are fourth-fewest in the country.

In 20 games under Tolzien's direction, UW is averaging 33.4 points and 422.9 yards of total offense. Wisconsin has also converted 124 of its 254 third-downs (48.8 percent) in those games. In the red zone, UW is 85 of 92 (92.4 percent), including 71 touchdowns (77.2 percent).

With its win over Ohio State, UW is now bowl-eligible for a school-record ninth-straight season, including all five of head coach Bret Bielema's seasons. Entering this season, only 12 schools in the country had a longer current streak than Wisconsin, including just one Big Ten team (Ohio State).

Iowa Notes:

Iowa has won 20 of its last 23 games and 22 of 26, dating back to the middle of the 2008 season. Iowa had a 19-4 stretch from the 2001 Alamo Bowl through the first nine games of the 2003 season. Iowa posted a 19-2-2 mark between 1956-58 and also won 21 of 25 games in that stretch. Iowa's school record of 20 straight wins occurred between 1920-23.

Iowa has won 48 of its last 57 games (.842) in Kinnick Stadium, dating back to the 2002 season, including a perfect 4-0 mark this season. One of those losses was to Wisconsin (24-21 in 2006).

Iowa ranks sixth nationally in scoring defense (13.2) and seventh in rushing defense (83.8). The two rushing touchdowns by Michigan were the first allowed by Iowa this season. The Iowa defense was the last unit in the nation to allow a rushing touchdown this season. Iowa had not allowed a rushing score for 24 straight quarters, dating back to the 2010 FedEx Orange Bowl.

Wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos ranks first in Iowa career receiving yards (2,275), tied for second in receptions (152) and tied for seventh in touchdowns (14). He has led Iowa in receiving in each of the past three seasons, becoming just the third receiver to accomplish that feat. Had 45 receptions for 750 yards in 2009.


The last time Wisconsin defeated ranked teams in back-to-back weeks was Oct. 9 and 16, 2004 when the Badgers defeated No. 18 Ohio State and No. 5 Purdue. Both games were on the road and required a near perfect effort. Times change, results don't.

Wisconsin played near perfect in beating the Boilermakers that day and still needed Scott Starks to scoop and score from 40 yards and the Boilers to miss the tying field goal. A little luck never hurts, and the Badgers will need some of that luck to escape Iowa City.

The UW offense has been impressive, turning the ball over just five times (three interceptions and two fumbles) this season, tied for second-fewest in the country. The Badgers' top three running backs (John Clay, James White and Montee Ball) have combined for 262 carries and fumbled the ball just once. That will need to continue to have a chance.

The Badgers have scored a touchdown the first time they have touched the ball in five of their seven games this season. The Badgers have also scored on their opening drive of the second half in five of its seven games. They success will be tested against the best front four in the conference.

Iowa is a six-point favorite, a number that is what it is because of the Hawkeyes playing at home and potent offense, especially with Stanzi becoming a new-look quarterback. The Badgers are like two different programs - 15-3 at home in Big Ten play since 2006 and 7-10 on the road. In four road halves this season, Wisconsin has looked good in the second half of those games, but not the first half. That has to change.

This is a coin flip for me. I was thoroughly impressed with how Wisconsin used the electric home crowd environment to its advantage and punched Ohio State in the teeth. Can they play perfect for two weeks in a row? That's what needs to be done, and it likely will have to be done through the air. I have my doubts, but I think Iowa will use its raucous home crowd to its advantage and knock off UW.

Iowa 28, Wisconsin 27

Worgull's Predictions

Straight up: 5-2

Against the Spread: 5-2

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