Kickoff is in just a half hour for the biggest matchup of the week in the Big Ten. Iowa (6-0!) takes on Wisconsin (5-1) in a battle that could help decide the conference champion. Wisconsin has a very easy road ahead with the toughest game against Michigan, where Iowa still plays at Michigan State and at Ohio State. But a 1 or 2 loss team could definitely win the Big Ten this year.
The need to know:
What: #11 Iowa at Wisconsin
Where: Camp Randall, Madison, WI
When: 11:00 AM, October 17, 2009
IOWA DEFENSE vs WISCONSIN OFFENSE
Looking at the stats, Wisconsin looks like it would have the edge when running the ball. They average just over 200 yards a game, best in the B10, average 4.6 yards per carry. Iowa, on the other hand is giving up 134 yards per game and 4.2 yards per carry. However, Iowa thus far has been content putting only 5 or 6 guys in the box against all the spread looks they've seen. Against Wisconsin though, they will see a more traditional look with TEs and HBs. This will allow Iowa to use their 4-3 under/over type looks on D and cram the box (as much as Iowa ever does). I don't expect Wisconsin to have a huge day on the ground.
Wisconsin has had good success throwing the ball this year as well. Scott Tolzien has completed 64.1% of his passes and has a 9:5 TD:INT ratio. It's no secret though how good Iowa has been defending the pass though and the one game (OSU last week) that Tolzien faced a good defense he struggled. He threw 2 interceptions returned for TDs and never really got the offense going.
IOWA OFFENSE vs WISCONSIN DEFENSE
Interesting stat alert: Wisconsin gives up 25.7 points per game and Iowa scores 25.7 points per game. Actually if you look down all the Iowa O vs Wisconsin D stats, they look pretty even. It should be a good challenge for both teams. Hopefully Iowa's offense comes together this week. It was this time last year, that everything started clicking. The offensive line continues to shuffle, but I think Ferentz may have found a winning combination in Bulaga, Rieff, Eubanks, Richardson, and Calloway. Wisconsin has been okay against the run (giving up 122 yards per game), but this could be the week that Iowa breaks out.
Obviously Ricky Stanzi is going to need a good game and needs to avoid interceptions. Wisconsin's defense has giving up a lot of passing yards, but like Iowa, has been taking advantage of poor throws with 9 interceptions on the year. Iowa also needs to worry about the Badger pass rush with two excellent defensive ends.
THE SPECIAL TEAMS
Wisconsin has been pretty solid on ST this year. Their kicker, Welch, has been about like Murray and is 7-12 on the year. Most of his misses have come from beyond 40 yards. Their punter has also been good averaging over 44 yards a punt.
Let's hope this doesn't turn into a battle of the pick six as both Stanzi and Tolzien are prone to throw. I think this is the game that Iowa's offense starts clicking and is able to ground out some yards with Robinson and Wegher. Field position will also play a big roll and I think Iowa has the edge there. Lastly, I think Tolzien will get rattled by Iowa's excellent secondary. Hopefully an early interception will shake his confidence.
Iowa 27 - Wisconsin 20