Badger Nation's Five Keys to Victory

Badger Nation's Brad Fedie takes his look at the Five Keys to Victory against the Iowa Hawkeyes, where the winner will take possession of the Heartland Trophy.

1. Ball Hawks

Last year the Badgers were derailed by (along with Shonn Greene) three interceptions. They came out of halftime and got it to a manageable 14-9 deficit, but couldn't really get much going from there. The problem was Pat Angerer getting in the way of Badger points. With Tolzien at the helm, there is a little more patience and quick pass ability, but if he has an off game, this could turn ugly.

2. A Tale of Two Backs

It was the best of rushing attacks, it was the worst of rushing attacks. The Badgers really seem to be feast or famine in terms of the run game. A lot of that has to do with John Clay. When Clay is on, the Badgers can play balanced, smash-mouth football, basically anything they want. Against a quality front seven? Well let's just say Clay will have to do a better job powering through Iowa's tough line than he did in Ohio. There is reason, however, to be optimistic. Clay rushed for 89 yards on 16 carries against the Hawkeyes last year. I'm sure Bielema would take 5.6 yards per carry any day.

3. A big plate of Stanzis O'Brien

This year's Hawkeye offense has a bit of a different feel than version 2008. The departure of Shonn Greene to the New York Jets and Jewel Hampton to season ending injury has put more pressure on Ricki Stanzi to perform from the quarterback position. Stanzi has had some big games (like against Michigan: 284 yards, 2TD) and some flops (like against Penn State: 11-26, 135 yards, 0TD, 2INT). If the Badgers can keep pressure on him and get him thinking about O'Brien Schofield, Wisconsin can capitalize on Stanzi's penchant for throwing to the defense. He has thrown a pick in each game since the opener, averaging 1.6 interceptions per game in that time.

4. Clash of the tight-en's

Get it, like clash of the titans? Golden. Anyways, both the Badgers and the Hawkeyes love to throw to their tight ends. Wisconsin went into last week with a big lead in yards and touchdowns from the tight end position, but after Moeaki's big game (105 yards, 2 TD) against Michigan, the difference is 474 yards and 6 touchdowns for Wisconsin to 308 yards and 4 touchdowns for Iowa. With the run defenses of both squads playing so well, the winner of this game may be whoever is able to use their tight ends more effectively.

5. Shake it off

Above all else, the Badgers need to come out hungry. After a tough, if not absolutely bizarre loss, it is important not to fall apart like Wisconsin did last year after the heartbreaking loss at Michigan. With this squad's emphasis on teamwork and accountability, I think a collapse is less likely. That doesn't mean it's impossible to have a letdown game.

Fearless Prediction

This is a tough call, as both teams are very similar. You have to agree with the oddsmakers (Iowa is a 1 point favorite on some, UW a 2.5-point favorite on others) that it's going to be a close game. I think Clay's performance against Iowa last year is a beacon of hope that the Badgers can break through the tough front seven of Iowa. I also think that too many people are underestimating the run defense of the Badgers. It's a messy game, but Wisconsin pulls it out.

Wisconsin 24, Iowa 23

Fedie's Fearless Predictions: 6-0


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