Wisconsin linebacker Joe Schobert nearly carries the Badgers to victory over Iowa

Wisconsin senior outside linebacker Joe Schobert fills the stat sheet in the Badgers' 10-6 loss to Iowa in the Big Ten opener.

MADISON – Senior Joe Schobert could only do so much to lift Wisconsin to a victory.

The story of Wisconsin’s defense in the 10-6 to Iowa Saturday, Schobert tallied eight tackles (3.5 for loss) three sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a staggering five quarterback hurries.

“Coach (Dave) Aranda does a great job of putting us in the situations on defense where we have matchups in our favor,” said Schobert. “When those opportunities to make plays present themselves, you just got to take advantage of it.”

Entering the game tied for the national lead in tackles for loss, Schobert increased his season total to 13 and his sack total – which entered the game fourth nationally – to nine. Emerging as the keystone of Wisconsin’s defense, Schobert delivered a tackle for loss on the first play of the game, a foreshadowing of things to come.

“I’ve been impressed with Joe ever since I started watching tape of him,” said head coach Paul Chryst . “The moment he does them in, it’s really impressive.”

Schobert seemingly made a play on every Iowa drive. When the Hawkeyes went for it on fourth-and-2 from UW’s eight, Schobert’s quarterback hurry helped deliver an incompletion. In the third quarter, when UW desperately needed some momentum, another Schobert quarterback hurry forced a Michael Caputo interception over the middle, eventually leading to a field goal.

He also forced and recovered a fumble against Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard in the fourth quarter, giving UW prime field position, and sacked Beathard again with 3:03 remaining, giving UW’s offense the opportunity for one last ditch effort.

“He’s playing at a very high level and that’s something we’ve come to expect from Joe,” said outside linebacker Vince Biegel, who led UW with nine tackles. “Joe elevated our whole defense. Joe makes a play, I’m trying to get on my horse and make a play and vice versa ... We thrive off one another.”

Erickson, Traylor Injured

Already without Corey Clement, its biggest running weapon, for likely the next month, Wisconsin lost its best receiver when senior Alex Erickson suffered a head injury following an aggressive suplex-like tackle from Iowa cornerback Desmond King with 13:18 remaining in the third quarter.

Down for several minutes, Erickson eventually walked off the field under his own power before going into the locker room to be evaluated for a possible concussion. Erickson returned to the sideline later in the game but did not return to the field.

“It changes a lot, timing,” said receiver Rob Wheelwright, who had four catches for 33 yards but unofficially three drops. “Knowing that he’s the leader out there and not having him out there, it hurts.”

To make matters worse, senior tight end Austin Traylor hurt his shoulder on the second-to-last drive, forcing UW to try to find the end zone without its two players who were responsible for four of UW’s eight passing touchdowns this season.

“That is not ideal for us of course,” said quarterback Joel Stave. “We like having Alex in there, we like having Traylor in there, but I thought guys did a good job kind of stepping in. Everyone knows their roles and everyone know where they’re supposed to be and what routes to run.”

Missed Target

Having seen three targeting ejections in the previous two games, including two of its own, Wisconsin thought it had a clear-cut case in the third quarter. On second-and-14 at the Iowa 28, Stave’s pass over the middle was initially caught by tight end Troy Fumagalli around the 5-yard line, but was jarred loose when free safety Jordan Lomax lowered his head and made contact with Fumagalli’s helmet. Fumagalli’s helmet was lowered after the catch.

Instead of UW getting a penalty to move them into the red zone and Lomax being ejected, no flags were thrown. UW had to settle for a 46-yard field goal. When asked about it after the game, Chryst was evasive.

“We’ve been told that the officials will err on the side of player safety,” said Chryst. “So that’s all I’d say.”

EXTRA POINTS: The road team has won seven of the last nine meetings in the series … Jacob Maxwell made his first career start for Hayden Biegel (unknown) at right tackle … Senior Jack Russell and redshirt freshman punter P.J. Rosowski handled kickoffs for the Badgers in place of Andrew Endicott  … Freshman Olive Sagapolu made his first career start at nose tackle and redshirt freshman nose tackle Jeremy Patterson made his collegiate debut. 

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