Last week BadgerNation hit the right notes in predicting an easy two touchdown victory over Nebraska. We emphasized the disparity in yards-per-carry between Melvin Gordon and Ameer Abdullah and the disparity in the tackles for loss between the leaders on UW's squad and NU's defense.
On to Iowa
1, No Poor Decisions by UW QBs
Our first key is the same as last week. UW enjoys an overwhelming advantage in the basic units coming into the game. To bring home the win, UW's quarterbacks need to make smart decisions, as they did against Nebraska. Simply protect the ball, run when open, be cognizant of field position and find unguarded receivers. More than anything, don't make throws against multiple coverage.
2, Outside the Tackles
Iowa possesses a different kind of defense than Nebraska, which had fast safeties and linebackers. Iowa has a decent front four but a mediocre (at best) "middle 5". Our prediction: offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig emphasizes plays outside the tackle, asking tight ends Sam Arneson and Troy Fumagalli to execute seal blocks while multiple receivers block down. It is a very simple plan, yet Melvin Gordon showed just how effective a well-executed plan can be.
3, Stout Linebacker Tackling
Vince Biegel had his moment to shine against Purdue, and Joe Schobert had his moment in the snow last week. This week against a different kind of back, Marcus Trotter will be called on. Iowa's leading rusher can, without fear of contradiction, be called plodding. Mark Weisman has run for 676 yards (roughly 1,000 fewer than MGIII) and his 4.0 yards per carry is lower than any of Iowa's top four tailbacks. His leading characteristic is having a strong running style that makes him more difficult to tackle. Up steps Trotter, who last year had a big game at Iowa while subbing for Chris Borland.
4, One More New Look
If unforeseen circumstances keep Iowa in the game, it will be up to quarterbacks Jake Rudock and C.J. Beathard to capitalize. UW defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's scheme last week did not emphasize safety Michael Caputo at the line of scrimmage, so expect Caputo to be very active this week as Aranda targets some poor blitz protection. If momentum is needed in the first half, Caputo is a good bet to deliver, either on a sack, a hurry or a forced interception.
5, One Last Road Game
The point here is to emphasize just how well the Badgers have been able to focus on the game at hand all year. This can be seen in how deftly the team switches strategies depending on opponent, week to week. Expect that to happen at Kinnick as the Badgers line things up for a season ending game with Minnesota. It is important to note that Iowa under Kirk Ferentz has always emphasized a fundamental approach that keeps them in the game, especially early on. There won't be many unusual circumstances or schemes from Iowa. Instead the Badgers will need to survive a close first half as Iowa's talent deficiency is slowly exposed.
Fearless Predictions: UW pulls away in the second half to win 28-12.