Yeah, that's what I started the column with. Iowa may fancy themselves a smash-mouth football team, but the Hawkeyes really live and die by No.12. The Badgers showed they could chase down the big and mobile Terrell Pryor, but Iowa has a superior offensive line. With the weapons that Stanzi has in Marvin McNutt and leading receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, prevention might be the key to stopping the pass.
2. Bring the thunder and lightning
There's no secret to stopping the Wisconsin offense. Iowa has proven that in the last two meetings between the schools. The Hawkeyes took out the run and as a result, took home the Heartland Trophy. With James White in the mix, however, the Badger rushing attack is more dynamic than it has been since the days of Terrell Fletcher and Brent Moss. A big day for either running back could make up for a mediocre day for the other. A big day for both, and look out Hawkeyes.
3. Battling for position
Field position that is. While both teams can pass (and as I mentioned earlier, that may be Iowa's strength) I would be willing to bet it's a battle of the trenches for much of the game. That means starting field position will be crucial. David Gilreath showed the the Badger return game is nothing to sneer at.
The return defense also had a good game against a quality return man in Jamaal Berry. Could it be that the Badger special teams could now be a strength? We will see come Saturday.
4. Here's to you, Mr. Robinson
Yes, I've been saying that stopping the Iowa passing game is priority number one, but the other man in the backfield is no slouch. Adam Robinson has rung up 623 yards and eight touchdowns on the season. Arizona was able to hold him to only five yards on 10 rushes in Iowa's only loss. The Hawkeyes finished with only 29 yards rushing, leaving Stanzi's 278 yards passing as Iowa's only real source of offense. If the Badgers struggle with the passing game, stopping the run completely could also net them a win.
5. Title time
There's a good chance that the winner of this game gets at least a share of the Big Ten crown. Iowa has Michigan State and Ohio State at home and Wisconsin has already split with the two. You can bet that both teams know that and the adrenaline will be pumping. Add in the rivalry and the unique situation of former Hawkeye and current Badger head coach Bret Bielema, and you've got yourself a recipe for a great game.
I'm going to stop calling it fearless pretty soon. Iowa seems to have Wisconsin's number as of late and the game is being played at Kinnick. Not a good combo if you are a Badgers fan. I think this Wisconsin team is slightly better than last year's squad and the Hawkeyes have digressed a little since last season. The Badgers aren't a stellar road team and after the euphoria of last week, Wisconsin may be in for a hangover of sorts.
Iowa 26 Wisconsin 24